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Anti-Racism, #BlackLivesMatter, and Civic Action

Readings and resources on topics of anti-racism, white supremacy, abolition and prisons, policing, protest, and civic activism.


Please note that some of the books, papers, and other materials in our holdings will contain offensive language or imagery. The Special Collections Research Center collects materials created over many centuries, or as recently as last month, to document the experiences, attitudes, and social context of a specific time.  As our archivists describe items physically and in finding aids or catalog records, we are continuing and expanding our efforts to move towards non-offensive archival description where it does not take away from the historical context.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything in our collections regarding race, racism or anti-racism but will be added to over time.

Primary Sources

James H. Laue C0055

James H. Laue was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, in 1937. After earning his Bachelor's degree in 1959, Laue was admitted to the Harvard graduate program in sociology with a Danforth Fellowship, where he studied race relations and the sociology of religion under such distinguished sociologists as Talcott Parsons, Gordon Allport, and David Riesman.

During his graduate studies, Laue became involved in the Civil Rights movement, attending lunch counter sit-ins, church "kneel-ins," and protests organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Laue's 1966 doctoral dissertation, "Direct Action and Desegregation: Toward a Theory of the Rationalization of Protest," grew out of a combination of diligent sociological analysis and first-hand experience in the Civil Rights movement. 

Northern Virginia oral history project C0030

The Northern Virginia Oral History Project Collection is comprised of just over 200 interviews conducted between 1958 and 1996. The interviews document community and family life, and careers in the Northern Virginia Area as well as changes in Northern Virginia since World War II. Some topics also include Black communities and segregation in Northern Virginia.


Oliver F. Atkins photograph C0036

Oliver F. Atkins was born February 18, 1916 in Hyde Park, Massachusetts. He earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Alabama in 1938. After the war, Atkins joined the staff of the Saturday Evening Post. As the Washington correspondent for the Post, he photographed many important leaders of the United States and the world. Among them were Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard M. Nixon, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Gamel Nasser, Nikita Kruschev, Josip B. Tito, and Jawaharlal Nehru. He was the Post's Far East correspondent in 1951, and also enjoyed a personal and working relationship with the magazine's famous illustrator, Norman Rockwell. 

Philip Levy civil rights C0121

Philip Levy was a government official in several capacities, serving on the legal staff of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and as counsel to Senator Robert F. Wagner. Levy practiced private law in Washington, D.C. during a career that spanned 1934-1970. He was directly involved with the development of national labor policy in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, and maintained a continued interest in labor policy throughout his long career. This collection contains meeting minutes and grant proposals from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as well as correspondence on civil rights and race relations between senators and NAACP members. Many of the materials deal with the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), issued by Franklin Roosevelt in 1941 as executive order 8802 partly in response to protests organized by A. Philip Randolph.

Reston Black Focus C0137

Reston is a planned community in Northern Virginia. Robert E. Simon, Jr., the founder of Reston, purchased the land with the proceeds from the sale of Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1961. Construction began in 1963 with the building of Lake Anne. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Reston Black Focus was established to encourage black citizens to participate more in Reston and to promote black culture and lifestyles. The collection consists of papers from the Reston Black Focus, such as correspondence, advertisements, financial information and general information. Also included in the collection is a series on the Reston Homeowners Association (RHOA) with papers and other information from the Association.

Works Progress Administration oral histories C0153

The interviews in the WPA Oral Histories Collection were conducted between 1961 and 1984. The majority of the interviews were done in the 1970s and 1980s by Lorraine Brown and John O'Connor as part of the Institute on the Federal Theatre Project and New Deal Culture. Cassettes of cast recordings and conferences were also created by the Institute on the Federal Theatre Project and New Deal Culture. Many people working within what they termed at the time the "Negro unit" are interviewed. SCRC recently received a grant to digitize the audio and transcripts to be put online for the public by early 2021.


Armistead L. Boothe C0268

Armistead Lloyd Boothe (1907-1990) was a lawyer and state legislator from Alexandria, Virginia. Boothe served as a Democratic Virginia state legislator from 1948-1963. He was a prominent member of a group of legislators known as the "Young Turks" who opposed the entrenched establishment politicians of Virginia government (Smith 17). As noted in a 1970 press release in folder 4 of box 1 of the Boothe collection, "he became perhaps best known for his consistent political fight, from 1954 on, to keep the public schools of the State open" after Virginia threatened to eliminate the mandate for public schools in order to oppose the Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision requiring school integration.

Smith, Douglas. '' 'When Reason Collides with Prejudice': Armistead Lloyd Boothe and the Politics of Desegregation in Northern Virginia, 1948-1963.'' The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 102:1. Jan, 1994, 5-46.

George Mason letters to John Augustine Washington III C0315

The collection consists of two letters from George Mason to John Augustine Washington III. Both letters were written in the weeks after John Brown attempted to begin a slave insurrection at Harper's Ferry in what is now West Virginia. In the first letter, dated October 25, 1859, Mason is concerned about slaves and freed blacks in possession of guns in Fairfax County; he implores Washington to coordinate the seizure of these weapons using "a good and efficient patrol - all of native born men" raised specifically for the job. In the second letter, dated November 2, 1859, Mason suggests forming a Volunteer Company in the wake of John Brown's raid, and he inquires whether Upton Herbert, the Superintendent of Mount Vernon, would be willing to take command of it.

Howard University Digital Collections

Digital Howard is an online repository curated by the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and the Howard University Libraries.