Civil Rights History Project

Explore Initiative

The Museum and the Library of Congress have produced an invaluable look at the Civil Rights Movement through the Civil Rights History Project (CRHP).

Over the course of five years, the personal histories and testimonials of unsung activists of the 1950s and 1960s, were captured, and now, this unique collection of stories is available to all.

The CHRP provides faces and voices to many of the previously unknown individuals who made valuable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. These members of The Freedom Movement were committed to eliminating racial segregation and inequality in the United States, sometimes at a great cost to themselves, their families, and their community. By organizing voter registration drives, providing, housing, food, and money among many other duties, they worked to transform America and make it a better place. These interviews bear witness to those efforts.

In May, 2009 the U. S. Congress enacted and President Barack H. Obama signed the Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (CRHP), Public Law 111-19. The legislation authorized the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress to collaborate to preserve the eyewitness accounts of grassroots participants and leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement. The legislation was sponsored by:

Representative Carolyn McCarthy (NY)
Representative Sanford D. Bishop (GA)
Representative William Lacy Clay (MO)
Representative John Lewis (GA)
Representative Mike Quigley (IL)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Senator Lamar Alexander (TN)
Senator Robert F. Bennett (UT)
Senator Thad Cochran (MS)
Senator Edward Kennedy (MA)
Senator Carl Levin (MI)
Senator Charles Schumer (NY)

A CRHP Advisory Committee was organized to guide the selection of interviewees. The Committee was composed of acclaimed Civil Rights scholars and activists:

Thomas C. Battle
Mia Bay 
Julian Bond
Taylor Branch
Millicent Brown
Tracy E. K‘Meyer
Clement A. Price
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Patricia Sullivan
Patricia Turner

The Southern Oral History Program in the Center for the Study of American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recorded and managed the logistical arrangements of the majority of the interviews under the guidance of Seth Kotch. The interviewers included:

Julian Bond
Taylor Branch
David P. Cline
Emilye Crosby
John Dittmer
Willie J. Griffin
Hasan Kwame Jeffries
Joseph Mosnier
LaFleur Paysour
Dwandalyn Reece
Patricia Sullivan 
Kieran Walsh Taylor

UNC-Southern Oral History Program
John Bishop
Noah Bishop
Petna Ndaliko 

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage staff
David Barnes
Aurélie Beatley
Cristina Diaz-Carrera
Leon Garcia
Charles Weber, coordinator 
David Whitfield 

Future View Inc.
Mark Stoddard
Christopher Simmons