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Archives Unbound presents topically-focused digital collections of historical documents.
African America, Communists, and the National Negro Congress, 1933-1947
The National Negro Congress was established in 1936 to "secure the right of the Negro people to be free from Jim Crowism, segregation, discrimination, lynching, and mob violence" and "to promote the spirit of unity and cooperation between Negro and white people." It was conceived as a national coalition of church, labor, and civil rights organizations that would coordinate protest action in the face of deteriorating economic conditions for blacks.
Black Economic Empowerment: The Negro Business League
Booker T. Washington, founder of the National Negro Business League, believed that solutions to the problem of racial discrimination were primarily economic, and that bringing African Americans into the middle class was the key. In 1900 he established the League "to promote the commercial and financial development of the Negro" and headed it until his death.
Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Federal Government Records
The focus of these collections is on the political side of the freedom movement, the role of civil rights organizations in pushing for civil rights legislation, and the interaction between African Americans and the federal government in the 20th Century. Major topics covered: peonage, lynching, civil rights demonstrations, civil rights legislation, riots, and Black Power.
Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers
Consisting of records of civil rights organizations and personal papers, these collections also branch out to cover other aspects of African American life in the 20th century, like religion, sports, education, fraternal organizations, and even the field of entertainment.
The Black Liberation Army and the Program of Armed Struggle
The Black Liberation Army (BLA) was an underground, black nationalist-Marxist militant organization that operated from 1970 to 1981. Composed largely of former Black Panthers (BPP), the organization’s program was one of "armed struggle" and its stated goal was to "take up arms for the liberation and self-determination of black people in the United States." The BLA carried out a series of bombings, robberies (what participants termed "expropriations"), and prison breaks.
Black Nationalism and the Revolutionary Action Movement: The Papers of Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford)
This collection of RAM records reproduces the writings and statements of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and its leaders. It also covers organizations that evolved from or were influenced by RAM and persons that had close ties to RAM. The most prominent organization that evolved from RAM was the African People's Party. Organizations influenced by RAM include the Black Panther Party, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Youth Organization for Black Unity, African Liberation Support Committee, and the Republic of New Africa. Individuals associated with RAM and documented in this collection include Robert F. Williams, Malcolm X, Amiri Baraka, General Gordon Baker Jr., Yuri Kochiyama, Donald Freeman, James and Grace Lee Boggs, Herman Ferguson, Askia Muhammad Toure (Rolland Snellings), and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael).
Federal Surveillance of African Americans,1920-1984
Between the early 1920s and early 1980s, the Justice Department and its Federal Bureau of Investigation engaged in widespread investigation of those deemed politically suspect. Prominent among the targets of this sometimes coordinated, sometimes independent surveillance were aliens, members of various protest groups, Socialists, Communists, pacifists, militant labor unionists, ethnic or racial nationalists, and outspoken opponents of the policies of the incumbent presidents.
James Meredith, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Integration of the University of Mississippi
In the fall of 1962 the college town of Oxford, Mississippi, erupted in violence. At the center of the controversy stood James Meredith, an African American who was attempting to register at the all-white University of Mississippi, known as "Ole Miss." Meredith had the support of the federal government, which insisted that Mississippi honor the rights of all its citizens, regardless of race. Mississippi’s refusal led to a showdown between state and federal authorities and the storming of the campus by a segregationist mob. Two people died and dozens were injured. In the end, Ole Miss, the state of Mississippi, and the nation were forever changed.
"We Were Prepared for the Possibility of Death:" Freedom Riders in the South, 1961
Freedom Riders were civil rights activists that rode interstate buses into the segregated South to test the United States Supreme Court decision in Boynton v. Virginia. Boynton had outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel, but the ICC had failed to enforce its own ruling, and thus Jim Crow travel laws remained in force throughout the South. The Freedom Riders set out to challenge this status quo by riding various forms of public transportation in the South to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation.
Civil War Era Databases
Black Abolitionist Papers
Presents the massive, international impact of African American activism against slavery, in the writings and publications of the activists themselves.
ProQuest Civil War Era
Covers a vast range of topics including the formative economic factors and other forces that led to the abolitionist movement, the 600,000 battle casualties and the emancipation of nearly 4 million slaves.