AARP and LCCR Donate Civil Rights Collection to Library of Congress

Feb 23, 2005, 00:00 ET from AARP

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- AARP and the Leadership Conference on
 Civil Rights (LCCR) will donate more that 4,000 firsthand accounts of the
 struggle for civil rights to the Library of Congress during an official
 ceremony on February 24, 2005.
     The collection of firsthand written accounts, audio and video interviews
 and photographs, form the world's largest archive of civil rights memories and
 marks a major milestone of the Voices of Civil Rights, a collaboration of
 AARP, LCCR and the Library.
     The stories were contributed by people of all backgrounds and walks of
 life and paint a broad mosaic of the quest for freedom and equality in
 America. Many of the stories were gathered during the Voices of Civil Rights
 Bus Tour, a 70-day, 12,000 mile journey across America last summer.  In
 addition, approximately 7,000 original photographs were shot during the tour,
 a selection of which will be exhibited at the Library from February 24 through
 March 26.
     The Voices project was launched a year ago to create the world's largest
 permanent repository of firsthand civil rights memories -- a deep and lasting
 resource to educate and inspire Americans of all ages.
     The ceremony marks the transfer of the project to the Library of Congress,
 which will continue to gather personal accounts and expand the collection.
     "This archive is a testament to many thousands of people who stood up for
 civil rights, often risking their own well-being to bring about social
 change," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli.  "This effort served as a healing process
 for some, a remembrance for others, and a time to rejoice for many more.  It
 created a 'safe haven' for the storytellers, while bringing history alive for
 current and future generations."
     LCCR Executive Director Wade Henderson noted that the stories reflect both
 the price of progress and the need to continue the push for equality and
     "For LCCR, the Voices of Civil Rights project is more than just an
 archive," said Henderson.  "As the 40th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights
 Act and the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education were commemorated
 last year, we were sadly aware that civil rights are still among the
 unfinished business of this country.  These stories and personal accounts
 underscore the victories we have won, but also serve as an important reminder
 of the work that remains to be done."
     "We are delighted to receive this contribution of firsthand accounts of
 the struggle for civil rights during the 20th century, not only because it
 will complement the Library's extensive collections of civil rights materials
 but also because it will add to our ever-growing collection of oral histories,
 which provide unique insights into different facets of American society," said
 Librarian of Congress Dr. James Billington.
     A book, My Soul Looks Back in Wonder: Voices of the Civil Rights
 Experience (Sterling, 2004) which contains a compilation of civil rights
 experiences, was written by Juan Williams as part of the Voices project.  It
 has already sold over 60,000 copies.
     The History Channel sent a video crew on the entire 70-day bus tour to
 develop a powerful one-hour documentary entitled "Save Our History: Voices of
 Civil Rights."  The History Channel also produced Voices of Civil Rights
 educational materials and made them available to more than 85,000 schools
 across the country.
     "These firsthand accounts provide a highly personal and emotionally
 compelling perspective of the civil rights struggle," said Dr. Libby
 O'Connell, senior vice president and chief historian at The History Channel.
 "We are proud to bring such important voices to our viewers and to the
 nation's schools. These voices must never be forgotten."
     An online archive of personal stories, essays, interviews, videos and
 photographs is accessible at
     About AARP
     AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people
 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and
 affordable to them and society as a whole.  We produce AARP The Magazine,
 published bimonthly; AARP Bulletin, our monthly newspaper; AARP Segunda
 Juventud, our bimonthly magazine in Spanish and English; NRTA Live & Learn,
 our quarterly newsletter for 50+ educators; and our website,  AARP Foundation is our affiliated charity that provides
 security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support
 from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors.  We have staffed offices
 in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin
     About LCCR
     The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is a coalition of more than 180
 organizations committed to social justice and equality.  Founded in 1950, it
 is the nation's oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights
 coalition.  LCCR member organizations represent persons of color, women,
 children, labor unions, individuals with disabilities, older Americans, major
 religious groups, gays and lesbians, and civil liberties and human rights
 groups.  Its mission: to promote the enactment and enforcement of effective
 civil rights legislation and policy. (
     About the Library of Congress
     The Library of Congress is the world's largest library and the national
 library of the United States.  Its 530 miles of shelves house 130 million
 items in nearly every language.  The library was founded in 1800, making it
 the oldest federal cultural institution in the nation.  The mission of the
 Library of Congress is to make its vast holdings available and useful to
 Congress and the American people, and to sustain and preserve a universal
 collection of knowledge and human creativity for future generations.