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Civil Rights Organization Places Historical Records with Emory University


Historical records for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including sympathy cards when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, have been placed with Emory University’s Manuscript Archives and Rare Book Library.

“Emory is delighted to care for, catalog and share this unique intellectual resource with visitors from around the city and the world,” Emory Provost Earl Lewis said Thursday in a statement.

Highlights of the collection include photographs documenting events such as voter registration workshops during the civil rights movement, and drafts of speeches by Ralph David Abernathy and others, many annotated in the hands of their authors.

The SCLC was co-founded in 1957 by King and other African-American leaders from across the South with the purpose of advancing the cause of racial equality.

The archive acquired by Emory contains 1,100 boxes, the second-largest collection placed with the manuscript archives behind former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn’s congressional archive.

Lewis said Emory purchased the material but added, “We never disclose the price.”

The announcement was made jointly with SCLC President Charles Steele.

Most of the SCLC materials date from 1968-1977 during the terms of the organization’s two longest-serving presidents, Abernathy and Joseph Lowery.

“Placing the SCLC archive with Emory ensures that the organization’s materials will enrich understanding of history, culture and nonviolence for generations to come,” Steele said.

Included in the archive are correspondence, press releases, speeches and other SCLC staff writings. Also there are SCLC publications, membership records audio cassette tapes and videotapes.

The archive will complement the SCLC papers, most pre-1968, that are held by the King Library and Archives at the King Center.

The SCLC said recently it has caught up on its late tax returns and plans to file its 2007 taxes on time.

Last month, the civil rights organization acknowledged that it had not filed a financial report with the Internal Revenue Service since February 2005, for the tax period ending in June 2004. Nonprofit groups like the SCLC are required to file such reports annually to account for donations.

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