The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom opened at the Library of Congress on September 10th. This exhibit draws from collections across the library to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the act. It covers America’s long history of discrimination and segregation, the grassroots movement for civil rights, and the efforts of President Lyndon Johnson, lobbyists, and key congressmen and senators to get the bill passed in 1964. The exhibit features many objects from the American Folklife Center and the Veterans History Project. Ten tablets throughout the exhibit include 25 oral history clips from our collections, along with news and documentary footage from the the library’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.
From the National Visionary Leadership Project, we chose clips from interviews with author Toni Morrison, Tuskegee Airman Lee Archer, U.S. Senator Edward Brooke, lawyer and U.S. Assistant Attorney Roger Wilkins, NAACP lawyers Benjamin Hooks, Derrick Bell, and Constance Baker Motley; and Clifford Alexander, chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Many new interview clips from the Civil Rights History Project are featured, including those with Korean War veteran Bill Saunders, NAACP secretary Mildred Bond Roxborough, Professor Freeman Hrabowski, journalist Moses Newson, and activists Joyce and Dorie Ladner, Ruby Sales, Courtland Cox, Chuck McDew, Marilyn Luper, Sam Mahone, Purcell Conway, and Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons. We also included clips of Fountain Hughes from the WPA Slave Narrative collection, Alan Lomax’s interview with blues musician Big Bill Broonzy, a Veterans History Project interview with Samuel Tucker, and photographs and letters from the Voices of Civil Rights collection, the Wayne Anderson Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964 collection, and the Kenje Ogata collection from the Veterans History Project.
The exhibit will be in the Southwest Gallery on the 2nd floor of the Thomas Jefferson building until September 12, 2015. Digital copies of all of the objects will be available soon on the exhibit website. Please check the Library of Congress schedule of events for upcoming gallery talks and related events.