The Civil Rights Movement Archive (CRMA) is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation based in California. We are a free, non-commercial, web-based archive created by civil rights workers active in CORE, NAACP, SCLC, SNCC and similar Southern Freedom Movement organizations during the 1950s and 1960s. We are part of the national African American Civil Rights Network. The CRMA has a Memorandum of Understanding with Duke University Libraries that they will assume stewardship over the archive to preserve and sustain it when the current managers are no longer able to carry the work forward.
This website has been (and is still being) created by veterans of the Southern Freedom Movement (1951-1968). It's an online archive to preserve and make available original-materials, histories, narratives, remembrances, and commentaries related to that movement. It is where we tell it like it was, the way we lived it, the way we saw it, the way we still see it.
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Our purpose is to make available to researchers, students, and the general public the history of our movement from the perspective of those whose boots were on the ground — what we refer to as "up-from-below" and "inside-out" history. In addition to narrative and analytic history, we provide an extensive (and still growing) online archive of original Civil Rights Movement documents, letters, posters, images, and other materials. We also make available personal stories, narratives and interviews, discussions and commentaries, a poetry section, and a Movement-related bibliography and list of web links.
All of the substantive materials in our archive were (and are) written or created by people who themselves actively participated in the Civil Rights Movement.
We charge no fees or payments to read or view our materials. We do not require any form of log-in or subscription. Nor do we accept or display commercial advertising.
For many years, the name of this site was "Civil Rights Movement Veterans." The name was changed in 2019 to "Civil Rights Movement Archive" to reflect its growing importance as a repository of up from below and inside-out history as seen and interpreted by the participants whose boots were on the ground.
In building the CRMVet website, we adhere to these guiding principles:
The textbooks and documentaries tell us that the Civil Rights Movement "began" in 1954 with the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v Board of Education, and "ended" with the call for Black Power in 1966 or with the assassination of Dr. King in 1968. But for us, our Freedom Movement grew out of all that came before and it has never ended, but rather, like a living organism, it has evolved and flowered into struggles of many kinds that continue to this day. In our view, for example, both the Black Lives Matter and the Fight for $15 movements in 2016 are direct descendants (grandchildren, if you will) of the Freedom Movement of the 1950s and '60s.
For the purpose of this website, we have arbitrarily chosen 1951 as the start date of our phase of the long struggle for freedom, justice and equality because in that year a 16 year old high-school girl named Barbara Johns led her Virginia classmates out on a student strike to protest segregated schools. And we have arbitrarily concluded our coverage of the Southern Freedom Movement at the end of 1968 to mark a cross-over year in which the struggle evolved into new phases, and nation-wide campus uprisings against the Vietnam War brought us full circle to our student roots and the beginning of the next cycle.
The mass media calls it the "Civil Rights Movement," but many of us prefer the term "Freedom Movement" because it was about so much more than just a few narrowly-defined civil rights. The essence of the Freedom Movement was first to defy, and then to overthrow, a century of systemic racial oppression and exploitation across all aspects of society. At heart, the Freedom Movement was a demand for social and political equality, an end to economic injustice, and a fair share of political power for Blacks and other non-whites.
Though the Freedom Movement failed to achieve all of these goals, it did decisively and permanently end the "Jim Crow" system of legally-enforced social inequality through segregation. It also brought to an close the century-long era of widespread, socially-sanctioned and judicially-tolerated lynching and violence against people of color to "keep them in their place." And by winning voting rights for all non-whites it obliterated the main legal mechanism used to restrict American racial minorities to a form of second-class citizenship. See The Civil Rights Movement Did Not Fail for a more thorough examination of our movement's successes and failures.
Today, from what you are taught in school, you would think that the Freedom Movement only existed in a few states of the deep South, but that is not so. The Freedom Movement lived and fought in every state and every city of America, North, South, East, and West. There were some differences between the Southern and Northern wings of the Movement, but those differences were minor compared to the Movement's essence. North or South, it was the same movement everywhere.
For us, the heart and soul of our website is emphasizing the central role played by ordinary people transforming their lives through extraordinary courage. The Civil Rights Movement was above all a mass peoples' movement people coming together to change their lives for themselves. But all too often that central fact has been quietly dropped out of history in favor of a "benevolent" court ruling, a few charismatic leaders, a handful of famous protests in a few well-known places, some tragic martyrs, and the gracious largess of magnanimous legislators.
Our purpose is to make sure that ere is a place where the Movement story is told by those who actually lived it. Where we set the record straight, that without the courage, determination, and activity of hundreds of thousands of men and women of all ages in cities, towns, and hamlets across the South (and the nation) there would have been no Civil Rights Movement, no famous leaders, no court rulings, no new laws, and no change.
We refer to our view of our history as we present it here as "Up from below and From the inside-out.
In addition to documenting the Southern Freedom Movement by telling it like it was and testifying to what we did and what it meant to us, this website is also a place to begin renewing the ties that once bound us together in a beloved community, a place for finding lost friends, and a tool for helping fellow Movement veterans in need. And it is a living memorial for our fallen comrades.
This website is about the Civil Rights Movement of 1951-1968 which we also call the "Freedom Movement" — a period of protests and political struggles thoughout America to win freedom from race-based discrimination, oppression, and exploitation, to end racial segregation, and to win voting rights for all regardless of race. Almost everything on this site was written by a veteran of that Freedom Movement. This is where we who were there tell it like it was in our own words.
Search allows you to search the site for specific materials. You can search by keywords, personal names, events, locations, and so on.
Information about the Freedom Movement
Information about Movement Veterans
The Civil Rights Movement Archive (CRMA) was created in 1999 by Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement (BayVet) member Bruce Hartford. It was originally called the "Civil Rights Movement Veterans" website (colloquially referred to as "CRMVet"). Initially, our purpose was to reconnect activists and freedom fighters and try to rebuild the Freedom Movement's "Beloved Community." To that end, our first page was the Roll Call of Freedom Movement Veterans which provides individual contact information and background.
With the aid of other BayVet members and movement activists, CRMVet took on role of collecting and providing free online access to original Freedom Movement documents, speechs, photos, articles, and other material created by those who were themselves movement participants. Over time, CRMVet evolved into a major online historical archive used by hundreds, then thousands of students, academics, authors, documentarians, and researchers. Today, CRMA provides one of the worlds' largest online collections of Civil Rights Movement information resources.
In recognition of CRMVet's growing historical-preservation importance, it changed its name to "Civil Rights Movement Archive" (CRMA) in 2019 and incorporated as a California non-profit in 2020.
The CRMA has been added to the National Park Service's African American Civil Rights Network and it is a recommended teaching resource. In 2022, CRMA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Duke University Libraries and their John Hope Franklin Research Center for them to assume stewardship over the archive to preserve and sustain it when the current managers are no longer able to carry the work forward.
Ronald (Cole) Bridgeforth
Midori Niikura Hartford
Civil Rights Movement Archive Inc.
2301 Harrison St. #205
San Francisco, CA 94110
The Civil Rights Movement Archive is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation.