Celebrating Civil Rights

By: Brad Miller, graduate assistant

Today marks the last day of the “We Shall Overcome” Civil Rights Summit at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The 2014 summit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964. That law prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Among the keynote speakers are former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, with President Barack Obama set to speak this morning. Please visit the summit’s official site if you would like to know more about what happened at the summit or listen to any of the speeches.

Resistance to change characterized the response of many Americans to the debate over the Civil Rights Bill, and Tennesseans were no exception. Here at the Albert Gore Research Center we have a great deal of evidence, which documents the ongoing struggle for civil rights throughout the state of Tennessee and on the MTSU campus.

The papers of Albert Gore, Sr., contain a large collection of constituent mail sent to the senator expressing opinions on the Civil Rights Act. The majority of letters requested Gore to vote against the bill, which he followed in 1964, however he later voted in favor of the subsequent Voting Rights Act and Fair Housing Act.

 

The oral histories of Olivia Woods and Sylvester Brooks detail the atmosphere of the Civil Rights Movement at MTSU and the efforts for integration at the school. Find these recollections and others in our Middle Tennessee Oral History Project.

We also have a large collection of Sidelines newspapers that reveal the opinions of MTSU students and chronicle the events—both for and against—the fight for civil rights and equality.

Sidelines Collection

Sidelines Collection

Sidelines Collection

The papers of the League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro includes correspondence, reports, membership lists, clippings, minutes, surveys, and other documentation of the last fifty years in Murfreesboro. The collection primarily documents the non-partisan activities of the local league from the organization’s founding in 1957 to the 1990s.

Reproduction poster of one placed in windows by proud women who first registered to vote in the United States of American in 1921. From the papers of the League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro

Reproduction poster of one placed in windows by proud women who first registered to vote in the United States of American in 1921. From the papers of the League of Women Voters of Murfreesboro

In the future we hope to acquire more documents pertaining to the fight for civil rights, including documentation of the continual efforts of Lambda, MTSU’s only all-inclusive LGBTQ student organization.

 

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