As America prepares to celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday later this month, the Library of Congress also will have two offerings in February in commemoration of African American History Month.
On Feb. 3, the Library will launch a new online exhibition about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization that has donated its records to the Library, where they are the most-consulted collection. That exhibition will be launched with a ceremony in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium at 10 a.m. featuring Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, joined by NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous and AARP Vice-President, Multicultural Markets Edna Kane-Williams.
On Feb. 26, the Library of Congress also will hold a symposium on the NAACP in room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 10 a.m. to noon. The symposium will be free and open to the public. Both the online exhibition and the symposium are made possible by the generous support of AARP.
The new website will feature nearly 70 treasures from the NAACP’s storied history, including the “Call,” Oswald Garrison Villard’s manifesto that launched the NAACP; the organization’s constitution and bylaws; photos of such key events as the New York Silent Protest of 1917, the Marian Anderson concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 and Rosa Parks’ 1955 arrest; documents about investigations of lynchings; President Harry Truman’s executive orders barring discrimination in the federal government and military; the Supreme Court decisions on discrimination; the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and background on seminal figures in the NAACP.
Speaking at the symposium “The NAACP: Reflections on the First 100 Years” will be Patricia Sullivan, associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of South Carolina; Robert L. Zangrando, professor emeritus of history at the University of Akron; and Kenneth W. Mack, professor of law at Harvard University. The symposium will explore both the history of the NAACP, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009, and its future.
In addition to the NAACP records, the Library also houses a vast array of materials useful in the study of African Americans’ struggle for equal rights: the original records of organizations including the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the National Urban League, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the microfilmed records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Also, the Library holds the personal papers of major figures in black American history, including those of Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Arthur Spingarn, Moorfield Storey, James Forman, Patricia Roberts Harris, Edward W. Brooke, Thurgood Marshall, Robert L. Carter and Joseph Rauh.