Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jack Rabin Collection: 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March

Martin Luther King leads a massive march of three thousand or more demonstrators to the Montgomery County Courthouse on March 17, 1965

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, we would like to highlight our Jack Rabin Collection on Alabama Civil Rights and Southern Activists. This collection is a compact but highly complex, multi-layered compilation of documents, sound recordings, and visual images. Some of its components include: copies of records of the Montgomery Improvements Association (MIA), many hours of oral history by Clifford Durr, an updated filmed interview of Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture), 450 black-and-white photographs created by the Subversive Unit of the Investigative and Identification Division of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, and surveillance tapes preserving speeches made  at an anniversary meeting of the MIA in 1963, the conclusion of the Selma-to-Montgomery March in 1965, and in Bessemer and Birmingham, Alabama, during the Poor People's Campaign of 1968. Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy are among many leading lights of the civil rights movement heard on these tapes.

This collection was formed by Jack Rabin, mainly between 1973 and 1975. While teaching public administration in Montgomery, Alabama, Rabin assembled most of the collection through contacts with public administration students who were then working for the Alabama Department of Public Safety and through primary-source materials from white activists and African-American civil rights leaders. He also toured the area, taking color slides of historically significant African-American churches and of the Selma-to-Montgomery march route, and he acquired three documentary films on civil rights topics. The resulting collection formed the core of his Center for the Study of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Having joined the faculty of Penn State Harrisburg in 1988, he donated nearly all of the collection to Special Collections at the University Park campus of Penn State on October 10, 2002, including several items acquired after 1975.

To learn more about the Jack Rabin Collection or other Civil Rights materials in Special Collections, visit our website here or contact Research Services (UL-spcolref@lists.psu.edu).