The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

Collecting area: African American

Clark, Gloria Xifaras, 1942-

Gloria Xifaras Clark Papers

1943-2015
21 boxes 10.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 865
Depiction of Gloria Xifaras Clark and student, 1964
Gloria Xifaras Clark and student, 1964

Gloria Xifaras Clark was working as an elementary school teacher in her home town of New Bedford in 1964 when she answered the call to enlist in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. A recent graduate of Wheelock College, she was assigned to teach in the Benton County Freedom School in Holly Springs for several months, and stayed on to help organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and to teach literacy and Negro history in Benton, Tippah, and Union Counties. She continued on the activist path after returning to Massachusetts, devoting her energies to economic justice initiatives and work with the Friends of SNCC and the NAACP, and diving headlong into the antiwar movement as head of the Greater New Bedford Draft Information Center. After spending three years in England with her family in 1972-1975, she resumed her civic and educational work in New Bedford, eventually earning appointment as head of the Commonwealth’s Office for Children under Michael Dukakis in 1983. With a keen awareness of the historical importance of the civil rights struggle, Clark became a key organizer of an oral history project during the 1990s that included her fellow veterans of the civil rights movement in northern Mississippi. The results are available digitally through the University of Southern Mississippi.

Documenting the evolution of one activist’s career, the Clark Papers offer valuable information on the Freedom Summer and Freedom Schools in northern Mississippi, particularly in Tippah and Benton Counties, and civil rights activism more generally. The collection includes communiques among civil rights workers in the region, a variety of correspondence, pamphlets, newsletters, and ephemera, plus a small, but noteworthy collection of photographs. Of particular significance among the later materials is a thick body of material from the Draft Information Center in New Bedford (1967-1968), the Vietnam Summer project (1967), and relating to Clark’s role in the Harvard Strike of 1969.

Subjects

American Friends Service CommitteeCivil Rights movements--MississippiCouncil of Federated Organizations (U.S.)Draft resisters--MassachusettsHarvard University--Student strike, 1969Mississippi Freedom Democratic PartyMississippi Freedom ProjectPeace movements--MasachusettsStudent Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)Students for a Democratic Society (U.S.)Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements--Massachusetts

Types of material

Photographs
Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris Collection

Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris Collection

1973-1983 Bulk: 1974-1979
5 5 linear feet
Call no.: 1171

Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris pamphlet

Administrative records of the Committee to Defend Johnny Imani Harris, which supported efforts to free Imani (aka Johnny Harris) from death row in Alabama in the late 1970s early 1980s. Originally sentenced to five life terms for 4 small robberies and an alleged rape in 1970, Imani was eventually given the death penalty under Alabama’s capital offenses law due to an inadequate defense by his court appointed lawyers. Harris was put in the brutal Atmore Prison, where he experienced extreme racism, poor medical care, overcrowding, and slave wages. In 1972 the inmates organized a group called Inmates for Action (IFA) and led a work stoppage of over 1,200 prisoners. The prisoners were beaten by guards and the strike leaders were placed in isolation. Two years later, in 1974 an IFA member was beaten to death by guards. The prisoners reacted by capturing a cellblock and taking two guards hostage. In the ensuing take-back by the prison, a guard and IFA leader were killed. Harris and others were charged with the guard’s death. Imani was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death.

The Committee worked throughout the 1970’s and 1980s for Harris’ freedom through endorsements, fundraising, and networking to national and international groups. Thanks to the participation of Amnesty International and other groups, Harris’s murder conviction was dismissed in 1987 after a new trial and he was given parole.

The records reflect the dedicated work of Tom Gardner, a civil rights and union organizer/journalist, and others on the Committee who tirelessly toiled on behalf of Harris to secure his freedom. Contained in the collection are the fruit of those efforts, including: fliers, clippings, correspondence, photographs, donor appeals, posters, buttons, legal documents, and additional administrative records of the Committee as well as material from Inmates for Action.

Gift of Tom Gardner, 2022

Subjects

African American prisonersDeath row inmatesPolitical prisoners--United StatesPrisoners--United StatesPrisons

Contributors

Johnny Imani HarrisThomas N. Gardner

Types of material

CorrespondenceFliersMailing listsPamphletsPosters
Cooley, Bertha Strong

Bertha Strong Cooley Collection

1901-1949
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 506

An educator, farmer’s wife, and resident of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, Bertha Strong Cooley was an ardent Socialist who published regularly in local newspapers on topics ranging from anti-imperialism, democracy, capitalism, Communism, Russia, World War II, and civil rights.

The Cooley scrapbooks reflect the views of a teacher and farmer’s wife who used the newspapers to express her passion for social justice. Cooley ranged widely in responding to the news of the day, espousing Socialism and opposing racial injustice, war, imperialism, economic oppression, and Capitalism. One scrapbook contains writings by Cooley, the other clippings of articles dealing with topics of interest.

Subjects

African Americans--Civil rightsPacifists--MassachusettsRace relations--United StatesSocial justice--MassachusettsSocialists--MassachusettsWorld War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Cooley, Bertha Strong

Types of material

Letters to the editorScrapbooks
Cosby, Bill, 1937-

Bill Cosby Radio Program Collection

1968 Jan-Jul
12 phonograph records .3 linear feet
Call no.: MS 981

“The Bill Cosby Radio Program” was a daily syndicated radio series of roughly 5-minute comedy inserts by Cosby and produced by Frank Buxton (who also served as the show’s announcer and comedic “straight man”). Along with sound man Gene Twombly, Cosby and Buxton improvised the episodes, which were syndicated to more than 200 top-40 radio stations around the nation on transcription discs by The Coca-Cola Company and distributed by McCann-Erikson (Coke’s ad agency). The show marked the beginning of Cosby’s long association with Coca-Cola and was the debut of many characters from Cosby’s comedy.

This collection features twelve radio broadcast transcription discs (one 12-inch disc and eleven 16-inch discs) of “The Bill Cosby Radio Program” containing programs #21-130 (1968 Jan 29-Jun 24) and programs #141-145 (1968 Jul 15). The disc labels contain the original program description and art.

Gift of Jerry Reed, June 2017.

Subjects

African American comediansBuxton, FrankCoca-Cola CompanyCosby, Bill, 1937-Radio comediesRadio programs

Types of material

Phonograph records
Restrictions: SCUA does not currently have the appropriate media to play these records.
Davis, Chester

Chester Davis Papers

ca. 1945-2016
24 boxes 36 linear feet
Call no.: FS 201

Chester Davis was a scholar of African American education and media, one of the first core faculty members of the Afro-American Studies Department at UMass Amherst and a major architect of that department’s development, and an avid photographer. Davis was born in Gary, Indiana and attended Roosevelt High School. He was among the first African American graduates of the University of Chicago, where he earned his BA and MA, and then earned his PhD from Syracuse University. After several positions in academia, Davis joined the African American think tank Institute of the Black World, right after its establishment by Coretta Scott King in 1969. His work there influenced the growth of Black Studies programs across the US and he was soon recruited by the University of Massachusetts to help build its newly founded Afro-Am. department. Davis retired from the University in 1992 and moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where he passed away in 2016.

The Chester Davis Papers reflect his research, teaching, and administrative work as a member of the Afro-American Studies Dept. at UMass. In addition to UMass-related lecture notes, correspondence, and research materials, the collection documents his post-retirement activities in Tallahassee and a longstanding research project on Roosevelt High School, which includes a rich cache of historical materials. There is also a significant collection of Davis’s photographs, including prints, negatives, and slides. Davis was an avid amateur with an artistic eye and his topics range from family photographs to concerts, demonstrations, and other activities at the University.

Gift of Penny Ralston, 2019

Subjects

African Americans--Study and teachingJazz musicians--PhotographsUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst . FacultyUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst . W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

Types of material

Photographs
Du Bois Homesite

Du Bois Homesite Dedication Video

1969
1 item

As a child, W.E.B. Du Bois lived for several years on a five acre parcel of land on the Egremont plain near Great Barrington, Mass. Although barely five when his family moved into town, Du Bois never lost his feeling for this property that had been in his family for six generations, and when presented with the opportunity to reacquire the site in 1928, he accepted, intending to build a house there and settle.

Walter Wilson and Edmund Gordon purchased the Du Bois homesite in 1967 with the intention of erecting a memorial to Du Bois’ life and legacy. On October 18, 1969, the site was formally dedicated as the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Park, with civil-rights activist and future Georgia legislator Julian Bond giving the keynote address and Ossie Davis presiding as master of ceremonies. Nineteen years later, the Du Bois Memorial Foundation donated the property to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, designating the University of Massachusetts Amherst as custodian.

Narrated by Davis and including Bond’s keynote address, this documentary (originally shot on 16mm motion picture film) depicts the 1969 dedication ceremonies. For additional information, please visit the website for the Du Bois boyhood homesite.

Subjects

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Homes and hauntsGreat Barrington (Mass.)

Types of material

Motion pictures (Visual works)
Du Bois, David Graham

David Graham Du Bois Papers

1972-1996
7 boxes 6.5 linear feet
Call no.: FS 034

David Graham Du Bois was a visiting lecturer in the Journalism and African-American Studies Departments from 1983 until his retirement in 2001. Du Bois was the son of activist and artist Shirley Graham Du Bois, who married W.E.B Du Bois in 1961. Du Bois earned his B.A. at Hunter College in 1950 and a Masters in American Civilization from New York University in 1956. After studying at Beijing University, he traveled to Cairo, Egypt, fell in love with the city, and settled there in 1961, working as a foreign correspondent for the Pacific News Service, Variety, and as an assistant editor for several Egyptian news publications. An activist, like his step-father and mother, Du Bois became the spokesperson for the Black Panther Party, and agitated for racial liberation throughout his life. After his mother’s death in 1977, he became the custodian of W.E.B Du Bois’ legacy and founded the W.E.B. Du Bois Foundation to continue working toward his step-father’s goals. While at the University, Du Bois played an essential role in naming the University Library after his step-father. Du Bois died on January 28, 2005.

The David Graham Du Bois Papers document his later life and his managing of W.E.B. Du Bois’ estate. The papers include a selection of David Du Bois’ correspondence, speech manuscripts, clippings describing his step-father, as well as seleced personal financial records from his time in Amherst, Massachusetts. Additional Du Bois materials remain with the family.

Transferred by the Department of Journalism, 2007

Subjects

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963University of Massachusetts Amherst--FacultyUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American StudiesUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of JournalismW.E.B. Du Bois Foundation
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

W.E.B. Du Bois Papers

1803-1984
328 boxes 168.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 312
Depiction of W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois

Scholar, writer, editor of The Crisis and other journals, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, the NAACP, and the Pan African Congresses, international spokesperson for peace and for the rights of oppressed minorities, W.E.B. Du Bois was a son of Massachusetts who articulated the strivings of African Americans and developed a trenchant analysis of the problem of the color line in the twentieth century.

The Du Bois Papers contain almost 165 linear feet of the personal and professional papers of a remarkable social activist and intellectual. Touching on all aspects of his long life from his childhood during Reconstruction through the end of his life in 1963, the collection reflects the extraordinary breadth of his social and academic commitments from research in sociology to poetry and plays, from organizing for social change to organizing for Black consciousness.

Acquired from Shirley Graham Du Bois, 1973

Subjects

African Americans--Civil rightsAfrican Americans--History--1877-1964Crisis (New York, N.Y.)Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Views on democracyNational Association for the Advancement of Colored PeoplePan-AfricanismUnited States--Race relations

Contributors

Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963

Types of material

Photographs
Economic Research and Action Project (New Haven, Conn.)

Economic Research and Action Project (New Haven, Conn.) Records

1965
1 box .05 linear feet
Call no.: MS 949
War on Poverty Cartoon from ERAP Newsletter
War on Poverty cartoon from New Haven ERAP Newsletter, July 23, 1965

The Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP) was a community organizing project sponsored by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Begun in 1963, SDS activists began working in low-income urban neighborhoods to help residents come together to identify and agitate for shared needs. While practical goals included education and advocacy for welfare rights, youth programing such as free school lunches, and increasing minority participation in local politics, the program as a whole had grand aspirations of abolishing poverty and ending racial inequality through an interracial and community organized movement of the poor in America. The largest and longest lasting projects were located in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Newark, but multiple cities had ERAP groups. While none achieved an ongoing interracial movement of the poor, all had lasting effects in bringing minority and urban resident voices to the SDS platform, in teaching the skills, obstacles, and possibilities of community organizing, and in encouraging individuals, both from SDS and local neighborhoods, to participate and engage with diverse people in seeking social change.

New Haven ERAP Records are a small but rich collection, mainly consisting of three summer of 1965 issues of the ERAP Newsletter from the New Haven Project. Additional materials include a clipping from the April 30, 1965 Life issue featuring photographs of New Haven ERAP members working in a “slum called The Hill;” two printed photographs from Life not used in the article; and a written report and supporting research interview on the failure of a New Haven corporation, Community Progress, Inc. to provide good services and comply with the requirements of the Economic Opportunity Act and the Community Action Program Guide.

Gift of Liz Blum, November 2016

Subjects

Activists—United StatesCommunity development, Urban -- United StatesSocial service—United StatesStudent movements – United StatesStudents for a Democratic Society (U.S.)

Contributors

Economic Research and Action Project

Types of material

NewslettersPhotographs
Evans, Cheryl L.

Cheryl L. Evans Papers

1946-2019 Bulk: 1960-2015
3 boxes, 1 oversized folder 3 linear feet
Call no.: RG 050/6 E93

Cheryl Evans singing at Medford High School, ca. 1962

A lifelong activist, performer, and educator, Cheryl Lorraine Evans was born in 1946 in west Medford, MA, the eldest of five. As a high school student, Evans attended the march on Washington in 1963, and was then the first in her family to attend college, in 1964 joining the largest class at UMass Amherst to date. She graduated four years later as a pivotal organizer of African American students across campus, the Five Colleges, and in the region – during the period when Black student groups, the Black Cultural Center, and the Black Studies department all had their origins at UMass. Evans was the first elected president of an African American student organization at UMass, and remains an organizer to this day, particularly as a key connector for Black alumni and through her UMass Black Pioneers Project.

Evans went on to work at UMass as an assistant area coordinator of Orchard Hill, an area housing the majority of the students of color and CCEBS students on campus at the time, and then for the Urban University Program at Rutgers University. She worked for over a decade in early childhood education, mostly in New Jersey and New York City, then while working for the State of Massachusetts received her MA in Communication from Emerson College, partially to help her public radio show, “Black Family Experience.” Evans was the first African American woman to run for City Council in Medford, and was appointed to the Massachusetts Area Planning Council by Governor Dukakis. She taught for five years at Northshore Community College, received her PhD from Old Dominion University in 1997, and ended her career at Bloomfield College, where she was a professor for 18 years until her retirement in 2016. A prolific singer as a child and young adult, Evans was, and continues to be, a performance artist, with several theater pieces focused on Black history, all in addition to her outreach, organizing, and workshops, many focused on increasing the number of Black graduate and doctoral students.

The Cheryl Evans Papers document over 60 years of the life of the educator and activist, including childhood report cards and essays, clippings from the civil rights movement she followed and joined as a high school student, undergraduate records and ephemera, documentation of Black UMass alumni events, and records from her careers in public advocacy, education, and the theater. Evan’s time at UMass is especially well documented, including schoolwork, numerous photographs of student life on campus, social and political organization records, including contact lists of and correspondence with Black students, and the original protest demands from the 1970 Mills House protest and march to Whitmore.

Gift of Cheryl L. Evans, 2018

Subjects

African American college students--MassachusettsAfrican American women teachersUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst--AlumniUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst--Students

Types of material

Photographs