The Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University contains important archives on the modern civil rights movement. These collections include the Gary Pomerantz Collection, which contains one of the most important oral history archives on civil rights in the southeast; the papers of Elaine Brown, former chair of the Black Panther Party; the papers of Doris A. Derby, founder of the Free Southern Theater; the papers of Constance Curry, former member of the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); the papers of Vincent Harding, historian of the Black freedom struggle; and the Hatch Billops Collection. New archival collections in civil rights include the papers of Alice Walker, prize-winning novelist and activist; and the papers of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Chief among the many rare collections of MARBL is the James Weldon Johnson papers.
Complementing MARBL’s resources, the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change is the custodian of the papers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), collections widely used by scholars interested in examining the role of student activism and grassroots organizations within the framework of the modern civil rights movement. Spelman College is the custodian of the papers of Audre Lorde, poet, novelist, essayist, activist and advocate for the rights of African American gays and lesbians. Through the leadership of Dr. Walter Massey, former President of Morehouse College, and the Honorable Shirley Franklin, former Mayor of Atlanta, Atlanta is the home of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. Acquired in spring 2006, the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection is housed in the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center. The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection is regarded as the premiere archival collection on civil rights in the nation. The Auburn Avenue Library for Research on African American History and Culture is another important resource for visiting scholars. A non-circulating library, the Auburn Avenue Library contains several archives that document the contributions of Atlanta-based organizations committed to civil rights. For scholars participating in the Johnson Institute’s Visiting Scholars Program, Emory’s MARBL, in combination with the collections at the King Center, Spelman College, Morehouse College, and the Auburn Avenue Library constitute an extraordinary opportunity for both research and teaching on the modern civil rights movement. These archival collections have burnished Atlanta’s claim as the spiritual home of the modern civil rights movement.
Emory’s Johnson Institute is located in Atlanta, Georgia, known throughout the world as the spiritual home of the modern civil rights movement. As the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta is the home of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, established by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Georgia’s capital is also the home of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site: the most visited national park in Georgia. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is also located in Atlanta: an organization established by Dr. King to advance the social justice movement of which he was the chief architect and spokesperson. Finally, Atlanta is the site of many historic civil rights institutions and organizations, including the newly established National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the custodian of a collection of lynching photographs. During the period of the residency, visiting scholars will have access to these institutions and their archives.
As a result of geography and rich archival collections, Atlanta has a community of scholars who are engaged in research on the modern civil rights movement. At Emory alone there are more thirty scholars pursuing research related to civil rights. These faculties include Emory College, the Candler School of Theology, and the School of Law. The great number of Emory faculty conducting research and teaching on civil rights and related areas is evidence of Emory University’s unmatched strength in this vital and dynamic field.
The research interests of Emory faculty members intersect in substantive and complementary ways with the modern civil rights movement. Through their participation in the Visiting Scholars Program, in particular the Faculty Seminar on Civil Rights, Emory faculty will be an important resource for visiting scholars. The result will be a dialogue on the modern civil rights movement that will be not only interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary in nature, but also comparative and transnational. The impressive constellation of archival collections and the research interests of Emory faculty bespeak the rigor and appeal of the Johnson Institute’s Visiting Scholars Program.
Except where otherwise noted, all images on this site are taken from material held in the James Weldon Johnson Papers in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL) of Emory University. Permission by Dr. Sondra Kathryn Wilson, Executress, the Estate of Grace and James Weldon Johnson.