The SNCC Digital Gateway is Online

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Humanities Writ Large

Announcing the new documentary website SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work. It is the product of collaboration between the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project, Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, and Duke Libraries. The site was unveiled on what would have been the 113th birthday of Ella Baker, the woman who brought SNCC into being and one of the 20th century’s most influential activists.

Made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the SNCC Digital Gateway tells the story of how young activists in SNCC united with local people in the Deep South to build a grassroots movement for change that empowered the Black community and transformed the nation.

Using documentary footage, audio recordings, photographs, and documents, the site portrays how SNCC organizers, alongside thousands of local Black residents, worked so that Black people could take control of their lives. It unveils the inner workings of SNCC as an organization, examining how it coordinated sit-ins and freedom schools, voter registration and economic cooperatives, anti-draft protests and international solidarity struggles. It is a story of unsung heroes: domestic workers and sharecroppers, young organizers and seasoned mentors, World War II veterans and high school students.

Features of the new site include:

  • historic materials including documents, photographs, oral history interviews, and audiovisual material hosted in digital collections at repositories across the country,
  • profiles examining individuals’ contributions to the Movement,
  • events tracing the evolution of SNCC’s organizing,
  • Inside SNCC pages unveiling the inner workings of SNCC as an organization,
  • Perspectives, presenting aspects of SNCC’s history from the eyes of the activists themselves, and
  • a Map connecting users to the people who worked—and the events that happened—in a specific place.

In 2013, the SNCC Legacy Project (SLP) and Duke University formed a partnership to chronicle the historic struggles for voting rights and to develop ongoing programs that contribute to a more civil and inclusive democracy in the 21st century. SNCC veterans have been integral to the project and to the vision and framework of the SNCC Digital Gateway, working collaboratively with historians of the Movement, archivists, and students to weave together grassroots stories, digitized primary source materials, and create new multi-media productions to bring this history—and its enduring legacy—to life for a new generation.

The SNCC Digital Gateway is a work in progress. Throughout the next year stories will be added and the content will be filled out. The site is not only an unprecedented and valuable window onto past civil rights struggles, it is also a valuable tool for anyone interested in social change in all of its present-day forms. It is the organizers' hope that this digital resource will help sustain the SNCC’s legacy of self-determination and democracy for the generations to come.

Photo from the Bob Fitch photography archive, © Stanford University Libraries.

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