It’s Black History Month, and now, more than ever, it’s important to explore the public history of the African diaspora in the US. Throughout the month, we will be sharing archives, oral history projects, public history initiatives, and other storysharing programs. With the richness of archives available, each post will focus on a specific theme. The Civil Rights Movement is the focus of many storysharing projects, suitable for both scholars and beginners, kids and adults. The resources here focus on both general Black history, with an emphasis on the Civil Rights Movement and on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, including archives we could not include in our MLK Day guide.
Take the time to experience storysharing with your family, colleagues, and neighbors this Black History Month. It’s a good way to bring important history to life. Before you are done, you will have lived the experience through words, pictures, and live recordings. Let's get started!
Located in Atlanta, GA, this is by far the largest repository of original resources pertaining to Martin Luther King, Jr. It includes not only his own papers but papers from the eight major civil rights organizations that have been active in this movement. You can start out by reading every speech he delivered and then move on to some of his most famous writings. This collection also includes over 200 oral interviews with those who knew this man the most. They include interviews with friends, family, teachers, and those who walked beside him. This is truly an extensive collection of source material.
This is a collection that is only half completed but still holds a wealth of information. The King's Institute has completed seven volumes of what is to be a fourteen-volume set when completed. It contains not only Martin Luther King's speeches, but it goes even deeper and gives you insight into the man's mind. It includes his sermons and his writings. There are copies of his correspondence and published works. This unique collection also gives you a chance to see many of the unpublished works that many will never be able to see. The collection is truly a great glimpse into this icon.
While the Internet Archive takes some digging, it’s a great place to access primary documents, video, and audio.The books include material that can be accessed and enjoyed by both adults and children, so you have the chance to make your adventure through this site a family project. We need to warn you about this one, however. Once you get started, time will disappear so quickly that you may wonder what happened. It is also a place where you can get lost in finding related materials that you want to check out. This is definitely a site to bookmark!
The collection at this archive is more specific than others regarding MLK. Martin Luther King visited the state of Washington in November 1961, at the height of his popularity. During his visit to Seattle, there were many photographs and recordings made of his speeches. His interviews were all recorded and preserved. His visits included such dignitaries as the Governor and these visits were also preserved. You can gain a perspective of the man from this archive as you get a chance to view many pictures and memories that are specific to the area and may not be found in other archives.
Since 1999, John Brown Lives! has tapped into and cultivated an appetite for humanities-oriented lectures, exhibits, commemorative milestones, author events and performances, community conversations and teacher-student programs that help people understand the intersection between history and human rights. This includes “Dreaming of Timbuctoo,” a traveling exhibit that told the story of a radical plan to give 120,000 acres of Adirondack land to 3,000 black New Yorkers—effectively circumventing state laws restricting the vote to landowners. Curated by historian Amy Godine, the exhibit has been seen by thousands as it has been installed in museums, schools, universities and even a penitentiary.
This archive was created to be an all-encompassing record of the civil rights movement. The information they hold on Martin Luther King is extensive and it also shows how he is so interwoven with the entire movement, even when not physically present. They offer a page that gives links to a variety of different information that includes a historical timeline, interviews with MLK, and interviews about him with the people who were closest to him during his life. There are videos, audio, and links to actual speeches. The links include links to articles by and about Martin Luther King and links to many photos that tell his story on their own.
Taking this journey through the beginnings of the civil rights movement is an excellent family activity but one you can also relish on your own. You will be able to experience history in a way you never have before. Even more, take note of how much this man accomplished in such a short period and know that you too could help move mountains, no matter how young or old you are. Keep the dream alive!