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Civil rights archive opens to the public

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Protestors march in Nevada as part of Ralph David Abernathy’s War Against Repression, circa 1971.

The archive of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) will open to researchers and the public at Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) on May 1.

The collection of 918 boxes primarily covers the SCLC’s activities and business from 1968 to 2007 and includes administrative files with correspondence, reports, memos, notebooks and meeting minutes, as well as photographs, flyers, and audio and video recordings. MARBL purchased the SCLC’s records in 2008, and archivists began processing the collection in 2009.

The SCLC was founded in Atlanta in 1957 by a group of civil rights leaders from across the Southeast that included Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy and Joseph E. Lowery, each of whom also served as president. The organization continues to operate today.

Among those on the waiting list to view the archive are scholars and researchers from across the country as well as from England and Germany. There also have been inquiries from family members of individuals killed in race-related violence that the SCLC spoke out against, says Ginger Smith, interim director of MARBL and director of external affairs for the Emory Libraries.

An exhibition based on the SCLC materials is tentatively scheduled for spring 2013. For questions about accessing the collection, contact Sarah Quigley at or

For the complete story see "Civil rights archive opens to the public."

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