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Amistad’s Newest Digital Collection of Civil Rights Photography

Ronnie Moore, undated.

The Amistad Research Center has added a new digital collection to Tulane University’s Digital Library thanks to funding from the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. This collection consists of photographs from the Ronnie Moore papers located at the Amistad Research Center. Moore is a civil rights activist and community development consultant who trained leaders in community organization, youth development, cultural diversity, and team building. Moore was the field secretary in the South for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the executive director of the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality, Inc. (SEDFRE). These photographs were collected by Moore in his roles with CORE and SEDFRE.

Moore was born on December 31, 1940, in New Orleans, Louisiana. While a student at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Moore led a group of 2,500 students to the state capitol to protest the city's hiring policies and segregated lunch counters. Moore was arrested, jailed, and expelled from Southern University for his involvement in the demonstration. He began working full-time as a field secretary for CORE in 1961 after his release from jail. In this position, Moore worked on CORE's Southern program where he established voter registration initiatives in St. Francisville and Jonesboro, Louisiana and Williamsburg, South Carolina. He and other activists registered and recruited African Americans to vote and establish local CORE chapters. In 1965, Moore was appointed as the executive director of SEDFRE, a leadership training organization committed to serving civil rights organizations and producing community leaders. As executive director, Moore was responsible for staff recruitment and the development of leadership programs in more than 25 states.

Voter registration class, Philadelphia, Mississippi, 1964.

The Ronnie Moore digital collection captures the political and social empowerment of African Americans in the South during the 1960s. Images of CORE activists, and the African American populations they served, are displayed in photographs of voter registration drives in Florida and South Carolina, freedom schools in Mississippi, and direct protest demonstrations in Louisiana and North Carolina. Images from Moore’s work with SEDFRE emphasize the economic activism carried out by African Americans during the late 1960s and 1970s in Northern states such as New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, and Maryland. Other economic initiatives depicted are farming cooperatives in Louisiana, job training for youth and adults in Mississippi, and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in Washington D.C.

CORE workers making signs, circa 1960s.

Most importantly, Moore’s photographs exhibit a shift in the Civil Rights Movement from direct protests targeting disenfranchisement and segregationist practices in the 1960s, to federally funded programs that were created to raise the economic viability of African Americans in the 1970s. This digital collection will serve as a wealth of information for researchers, scholars, and K-12 educators interested in the Civil Rights Movement. Moore’s fascinating collection of photographs can be found here. The finding aid for the Ronnie Moore papers can be found here.

Images from the Ronnie Moore papers. Images from the Amistad’s website, newsletters, and blogs cannot be reproduced without permission.

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