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
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 http://www.voicesofcivilrights.org.
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,
http://www.aarp.org. 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
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. (http://www.civilrights.org)
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.