SCLC exhibit opens Thursday at Emory University

A treasure trove of photographs, letters, posters and other documents that lay out the work of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will be on display through Dec. 1 at Emory University’s Schatten Gallery.

“The historical value of the material is immeasurable,” said Sarah Quigley, one of the co-curators and former SCLC project archivist. These items, she said, “tell a story about SCLC that most people don’t know.”

The organization, founded in 1957, tackled issues that are still relevant today, like gun violence, health care and international human rights.

About 200 items in “And the Struggle Continues: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Fight for Social Change” were culled from a larger, more extensive SCLC collection. The collection has been available for nearly a year at Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library.

The exhibit, which opens Thursday, focuses on the ongoing struggle for civil and human rights after the death of co-founder the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

On Friday, a number of opening events will celebrate the display, including a noon to 2 p.m. lecture, discussion and book signing with Dorothy Cotton, who once served as SCLC’s education director. Cotton is the author of “If Your Back’s Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement.”

Also on Friday, from 6-8 p.m. in the Schatten Gallery, several civil rights leaders are scheduled to talk about the SCLC and the movement, including Cotton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, who was also a Freedom Rider.

The collection was originally acquired from the organization for an undisclosed price in 2007.

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