Scope and arrangement
The Catherine Clarke Civil Rights Collection, 1936, 1962, 1966-1969, is an accumulation of material and notes which Clarke collected while working for various civil rights organizations and researching film projects about poverty and racism during the 1960's. The bulk of the material covers the years from 1964-1968. Divided into ten series: THE MISSISSIPPI SUMMER PROJECT--COUNCIL OF FEDERATED ORGANIZATIONS; ALABAMA; GEORGIA; CHURCH AND CIVIL RIGHTS; EDUCATION; FARM WORKERS/RURAL POVERTY; THE STUDENT NON-VIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE; THE SOUTHERN REGIONAL COUNCIL; THE SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE; AND CATHERINE CLARKE, the collection consists primarily of mimeographed and printed matter (press releases, leaflets, etc.) distributed to and by Civil Rights workers, as well as newspaper and magazine clippings, and Clarke's handwritten and typed notes.
The bulk of the collection documents projects run by various organizations working to establish racial equality in the South, primarily through school desegregation and voter registration. Many of the groups acted both independently and in conjunction with other organizations, in one state or in several simultaneously.
The role of the church in the Civil Rights Movement is well documented in this collection, not only in the CHURCH AND CIVIL RIGHTS SERIES, but throughout the collection. For example, there is church-related material in the Koinonia Communities Cotton Patch interpretations of the scriptures (see ALABAMA), Harcourt Klinefelter's paper on the church's role in Civil Rights (see SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE) and in Catherine Clarke's notes for a projected film for the Lutheran Film Associates (see CATHERINE CLARKE).
There is also considerable information about the relationship between the media and the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to Clarke's notes, there are transcripts of discussions at the TV and Film Center at Resurrecton City (see SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE).
Because of the overlapping subject matter, the researcher should be aware that subjects such as education, voter registration, violence and racial tension, farm laborers, and poverty are documented throughout the collection. In addition, the specific civil rights organizations are often referenced in series other than those devoted to the particular group.
The Civil rights collection is arranged in ten series:
- 1962), 1964-1965
The MISSISSIPPI SUMMER PROJECT--COUNCIL OF FEDERATED ORGANIZATIONSseries contains printed flyers, mimeographed handouts, press releases, memos and reports describing the summer project, the freedom schools, voter registration programs, community centers, the Medical Committee for Human Rights, Free Southern Theater, and the White Community Project. Included are two mimeographed publications from the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO): The General Condition of the Mississippi Negro and What is COFO? In addition, there is a security handbook for summer volunteers and a typewritten running summary of incidents, June 16-August 26, and other material documenting the often violent confrontations experienced by Southern blacks and civil rights workers.
There is also considerable material from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and their participation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.
The ALABAMAseries documents the Selma to Montgomery March, which took place March 23-25, 1965, with material from the SCLC March on Montgomery Committee, maps of both cities, and notices of two events commemorating the March one year later.
Included in this series are tourist brochures from Selma and a copy of the staff study by the Alabama Legislative Commission to Preserve the Peace, June 1964, which linked the National Council of Churches (N.C.C.) with “...direct involvement in the often violent and always lawless social demonstrations” and to the Communist Party. Also included is a copy of The Story of Selma or `The Other Side of the Coin,' a collection of newspaper clippings with added commentary calling for law and order and segregation, which was distributed by the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce after the Selma to Montgomery March.
In addition, there is a collection of campaign material concerning the May 3 Alabama primary in 1966, including sample ballots for various counties, statements by renters who were evicted from their homes after registering to vote in the primary, and a copy of U.S. vs. Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Dallas County, Alabama, et al., contesting the Democratic Party's official count in the election.
The GEORGIAseries contains information most likely gathered by Kit Clarke while she was working for SCOPE in Atlanta and Americus in the summer of 1965. Along with her handwritten interview notes and two notebooks from Americus, there is documentation of the considerable violence and racial tension in Southwest Georgia at that time, including two copies of the privately printed Voice of Americus and Southwest, Georgia and a flyer produced by the Georgia Council on Human Relations, Albany Georgia, Police State? There is also a collection of items from the Koinonia Farm Community in Americus, including Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch interpretations of the scriptures which were made to relate to current events.
The CHURCH AND CIVIL RIGHTSseries is divided into four sub-series: The Delta Ministry, The Philadelphia Sister City Project, the Selma Inter-Religious Project, and Newspaper and Magazine Clippings, 1964.
The EDUCATIONseries consists of information about school desegregation in general, with a quantity of material from the School Desegregation Task Force of the American Friends Service Committee and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, as well as material from Alabama, including Catherine Clarke's interview notes which were probably collected in 1965 when she was working for SCOPE. There is also a report on school desegregation by the Greater Atlanta Council on Human Relations Committee and items concerning the efforts of Miles College, a black school in Alabama, to obtain accreditation and library books. In addition, there are miscellaneous notes about education in Clarke's hand, and a report of an investigation by the National Education Association, Wilcox County, Alabama, a study in social economic and educational bankruptcy, which details with illustrations and charts the educational situation in Alabama in 1966-67.
- 1963), 1965-1968
The FARM LABORERS/RURAL POVERTYseries contains flyers, leaflets, and typewritten material relating to the problems resulting from racial discrimination against farm workers. A good deal of the material is from the National Sharecroppers Fund (NSF) and the National Advisory Committee on Farm Labor, including a report to the Board of Directors of the NSF, The Condition of Farm Workers in 1963. There is considerable information from various sources, including the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, specifically about poverty conditions in Mississippi. There are two items concerning organized labor's relation to the problem; a letter outlining the AFL-CIO's plan for a labor training program for minority workers in the Deep South, and a copy of the minutes of the Columbia University Seminar on Labor, Manpower Policy and the South, from 1965-66.
Also in this series is material about SWAFCA, including printed flyers, a copy of the Jan./Feb. 1969 issue of The Southern Cooperator and an announcement of a press conference to be held on June 12, 1968 to present the demands of the Poor People's Campaign to the Department of Agriculture. Additional information about SWAFCA can be found in the Selma Inter-Religious Project Newsletters.
The STUDENT NON-VIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE (SNCC)series includes press releases, statements, letters, reprints of published material distributed by SNCC, and clippings. The series is divided into two categories -- general material about the organization from 1963 to 1967 and specific material about the Atlanta Project, 1966-1967. The general material begins with the Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964 and to some extent traces the growing radicalization within the organization over the years. Also included are references to support from outside the organization, as well as typewritten copies of statements by John Lewis in 1965 and H. Rap Brown in 1967. In addition, there is a copy of the August 1964, Student Voice with the headline story referring to the murders of three civil rights workers (James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner) and a story about the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The Atlanta Project is described by two press releases and a copy of The Nitty Gritty, with stories about Julian Bond, the Greenville A.F.B. and Markham Street, Atlanta. There are two affidavits citing racial incidents in Atlanta and a notebook in Catherine Clarke's hand, marked “Atlanta.”
The SOUTHERN REGIONAL COUNCIL (SRC)series consists of press releases and typed proposals, an unofficial survey of southern black voter registration and some typed notes by Catherine Clarke which refer to the Voter Education Project. There is also a copy of Mississippi, the October 1962 issue of The New South, published by the SRC.
The SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE (SCLC)series contains general information about the organization and a considerable amount of material documenting the Poor People's Campaign. There are mimeographed sheets and a workbook from the SCLC Citizenship Training Program describing the program and the training of the teachers. There is a large volume of material from Clarke's work with SCOPE in 1965, largely lists of counties, volunteers, and staff, with references to county staff evaluations and to confrontations. In addition to an incomplete Report to the Board of Directors, April 1966, there is a great deal of general material about the SCLC, spanning the years 1964 to 1967.
In addition, there is a copy of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s statement to the press on August 20, 1965 concerning the Watts riots, notes from the Chicago staff retreat meetings during the SCLC's 1966 campaign there and an eight page booklet, Does Martin Luther King, Jr. have the right? the qualifications? the duty? to speak out on Peace? There are also two documents, a sermon and a paper by Harcourt Klinefelter, a staff member at Resurrection City. The sermon was given the Sunday after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. The paper is entitled, How Churches Can Help in Civil Rights, A Manual for Ministers.
Material from the Poor People's Campaign makes up a large portion of this series. There is almost daily documentation of events at Resurrection City, dating from April 17, 1968 to July 19, 1968, with a large amount of undated matter. Included is a copy of Jesse Jackson's speech given on May 23, a staff roster, programs for the Poor People's University, copies of speeches, press releases and notes in Catherine Clarke's hand. There is also a collection of typed material and notes about the proposed TV and Film Center at Resurrection City and notes of discussions about how to utilize the media for the purposes of the campaign. A set of typed transcripts of meetings held at the Poor People's Embassy in July can also be found here. Finally, there are three folders which detail the Poor People's demands to government agencies, the agencies' responses, and the Campaign's answers to the responses.
The CATHERINE CLARKEseries is composed of miscellaneous material collected by her, general notes and correspondence, and research material for a number of film projects, particularly for Lay My Burden Down, and Appalachia: Rich Land, Poor People. A copy of the transcript of Lay My Burden Down is included in this series.