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

Collecting area: African American

Lerner, Steve, 1946-

Steve Lerner Papers

1994-2011
22 boxes 22.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 673
Depiction of Diamond, La.
Diamond, La.

For decades, the writer Steve Lerner has been a significant contributor to public awareness of the issues surrounding environmental justice. Immersed in the environmental movement through his work as research director at Commonweal, a health and environment research institute founded with his brother Michael in 1976, Lerner earned wide recognition for his first book, Eco-Pioneers (1998), about “practical visionaries” who developed pragmatic solutions to environmental problems. In two subsequent books, Lerner turned to an examination of the impact of environmental toxins and industrial pollutants on low-income communities and people of color and the rise of grassroots opposition within those communities. In Diamond (2006), Lerner explored the impact of a Shell Chemical plant in Louisiana as a microcosm of the broader environmental-justice movement, and more recently, Sacrifice Zones (2010) traced the organization and resistance against industrial and chemical pollutants in a dozen communities in the eastern United States. In 2007, Lerner left his position at Commonweal, but continues his research and writing on environmental issues.

The research notes, interviews, photographs and other documentation comprising the Lerner collection form the basis for Lerner’s three major books.

Subjects

Environmental justiceEnvironmentalism

Types of material

AudiotapesPhotographs
Levasseur, Raymond Luc

Raymond Luc Levasseur Papers

1966-2017
10 boxes 12 linear feet
Call no.: MS 971

Raymond Luc Levasseur went underground with a revolutionary Marxist organization in 1974 and spent a decade in armed resistance against the American state. Radicalized by his experiences in Vietnam and by a stint in a Tennessee prison for the sale of marijuana, Levasseur became convinced that revolutionary action was a “necessary step in defeating the enemy — monopoly Capitalism and its Imperialism expression.” As a leader of the Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson Unit, later called the United Freedom Front, he took part in a string of bombings and bank robberies targeting symbols of the state including government and military buildings and corporate offices. All active members of the UFF were arrested in 1984 and 1985 and sentenced to long prison terms, although the government’s effort to prosecute them (the Ohio 7) on separate charges of seditious conspiracy ultimately failed. Levasseur served twenty years of a 45-year prison sentence, approximately thirteen years of them in solitary confinement, before being released on parole in 2004. He continues to write and speak out for prisoners’ rights.

The Levasseur papers are an important record of a committed revolutionary and political prisoner. Beginning with his work in the early 1970s with the Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform (SCAR), a prisoners’ rights organization, the collection includes communiques and other materials from revolutionary groups including the UFF, the Armed Resistance Unit, and the Black Liberation Army; Levasseur’s political and autobiographical writings; numerous interviews; selected correspondence; and a range of material on political prisoners and mass incarceration. Consisting in part of material seized by the FBI following Levasseur’s arrest or recovered through the Freedom of Information Act, and supplemented by newsclippings and video from media coverage, the collection has particularly rich content for the criminal and seditious conspiracy trials of UFF members (also known as the “Ohio 7”) in Brooklyn, NY and Springfield, MA, as well as Levasseur’s years in prison and his work on behalf of political prisoners.

Gift of Raymond Luc Levasseur, 2017

Subjects

Anti-imperialist movements--United StatesPolitical prisoners--United StatesPrisons--United StatesRevolutionaries

Contributors

Armed Clandestine MovementBlack Liberation ArmyManning, TomOhio 7Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson UnitStatewide Correctional Alliance for ReformUnited Freedom FrontWilliams, Raymond C.

Types of material

PhotographsTrials
Lewis, David L., 1936-

David Levering Lewis Papers

ca.1955-2012
54 boxes 81 linear feet
Call no.: MS 827
Depiction of David Levering Lewis
David Levering Lewis

The historian David Levering Lewis is the author of eight remarkably diverse monographs. Raised in an academic family, his father was president of Morris Brown College, Lewis enrolled at Fisk University at the age of 15 and was only 26 when he was awarded a doctorate in modern European history from the London School of Economics (1962). Through an academic career that has included numerous stops, including Morgan State, Notre Dame, Howard, the University of the District of Columbia (1970-1980), and Rutgers (1985-2003), Lewis remained consistently productive. Author of the first academic biography of Martin Luther King (1970) and a history of the Dreyfus Affair (1974), he wrote an influential study of the Harlem renaissance (1981) and important works on colonialism in Africa (1987) and Islamic Spain (2008), but he is best known for his two monumental biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois (1993, 2000), each of which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. One of the most lauded African American historians of his generation, Lewis was recipient of the Bancroft Prize, the Francis Parkman Prizes, the 2009 National Humanities Medal, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and he was elected as a Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Lewis was Julius Silver University Professor in History at New York University from 2003 until his retirement.

The papers of David Levering Lewis document a long and productive career as an academic historian and scholar of African American history and culture. Beginning with his years in college and graduate school, the collection offers a rich perspective on the evolution of his career. Lewis’s essential biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois are particularly well documented, however the collection includes abundant materials for each of his earlier projects, including correspondence, research notes, and drafts.

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryColonies--Africa--HistoryDu Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963Harlem RenaissanceHistorians--United StatesKing, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968United States--History--20th century

Types of material

Photographs
Mann, Eric

Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann Papers

1967-2007
22 boxes 11 linear feet
Call no.: MS 657
Depiction of Eric Mann, Dec. 1969<br />Photo by Jeff Albertson
Eric Mann, Dec. 1969
Photo by Jeff Albertson

Revolutionary organizers, writers, and theorists, Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann have been active in the struggle for civil rights for decades. The son of Jewish Socialist and labor organizer from New York, Mann came of age during the early phases of the Civil Rights movement and after graduating from Cornell (1964), he became field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality. Increasingly radicalized through exposure to Black revolutionary nationalists, Mann took part in the Newark Community Union Project and became a leader in anti-imperialist opposition to the war in Vietnam as a New England regional coordinator for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and later with the Revolutionary Youth Movement I — the Weatherman above-ground tendency of SDS. Following a militant demonstration at the Harvard Center for International Affairs late in 1969, Mann was convicted of assault on the basis of perjured testimony and sentenced to two years in prison. An organizer of his fellow prisoners even behind bars, he was “shipped out” often in the middle of the night, from prison to prison, spending the last year at Concord State Prison. After being released early in July 1971, he continued his prison activism through the Red Prison Movement. At the same time, as a writer, he earned a national audience for his book Comrade George: an account of the life, politics, and assassination of Soledad Brother George Jackson. Feeling himself at a low point in his radical career, Mann met Lian Hurst while vacationing in Mexico during the summer 1974. Hurst, a leader in the Berkeley Oakland Women’s Union, architect, and a strong Socialist Feminist, soon became his partner in life and politics, and Mann left Massachusetts to join with her in Berkeley. Hurst lead a group of women from BOWU who formed a “Thursday night group” and left the organization with the polemic, “socialist feminism is bourgeois feminism” all of whom moved towards integrating women’s liberation and Marxism-Leninism. At her urging, the two took part in Marxist Leninist party building, becoming union organizers with the United Auto Workers, and eventually moving to Los Angeles. Hurst was elected shop steward by her fellow workers as a known revolutionary. There, Mann led a campaign to keep the Van Nuys assembly plant open (1982-1992) — captured in his book, Taking on General Motors. They joined the August 29th Movement and its successor, the League of Revolutionary Struggle. They left LRS in 1984. In 1989, Mann and veterans of the GM Van Nuys Campaign formed the Labor/Community Strategy Center, which has been a primary focal points for their work ever since, helping to build consciousness, leadership, and organization within communities of color. Hurst became editor of AhoraNow, an innovative bilingual left publication that featured articles by Black and Latino working class leaders and helped initiate the center’s National School for Strategic Organizing. In 2003 Hurst wrote, “Socialist Feminism: Thoughts After 30 Years” for AhoraNow, a critical re-engagement of those important debates from an historical perspective after a 30 year reunion of BOWU’s key leaders. Mann’s latest book is Playbook For Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. Hurst and Mann continue to write and agitate in the cause of revolutionary change, particularly for oppressed communities of color.

The Mann-Hurst collection contains the records of two lives intertwined with one another with the cause of liberation of Black and Latino communities, women, and an internationalist pro-socialist anti-imperialism. Containing a nearly complete set of publications, the collection also contains early materials on Lian Hurst’s work with BOWU and the both Eric and Lian’s time as organizers for the UAW and their participation in the August 29th Movement and League of Revolutionary Struggle. Of particular interest are a series of letters home written by Eric during his imprisonment. The collection contains comparatively little on Hurst and Manns’ more recent work with the Labor/Strategy Strategy Center or Bus Riders Union

Subjects

August 29th MovementBerkeley Oakland Women's UnionCommunists--CaliforniaFeminismInternational Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of AmericaLabor unions--CaliforniaLeague of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L)Prisoners--MassachusettsRed Prison MovementsStudents for a Democratic Society (U.S.)

Contributors

Mann, Lian Hurst
Meier, August, 1923-2003

August Meier Collection

1837-1984
3 boxes, 329 titles 34.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 844
Depiction of

A pioneer in African American history, August Meier was a model of an engaged academic, a prolific writer, active participant in the civil rights struggle, and staunch member of the NAACP, SNCC, and CORE. While pursuing graduate work at Columbia under Henry Steele Commager, Meier taught at a succession of Historical Black Colleges, including Tougaloo (1945-1949), Fisk (1953-1956), and Morgan State (1957-1964). His dissertation, completed in 1957, became the first of eleven books he wrote or edited, Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1963), with much of later work conducted in collaboration with Elliott Rudwick and John Bracey. Meier joined the faculty at Kent State University in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 1993. His much-anticipated monograph on the history of the NAACP had not been completed at the time of death in 2003.

Organized in two discrete parts, the Meier collection bookends a long career in the study of African American history. The first part of the collection is centered on Meier’s association with the Pioneer Youth summer camp in Rifton, N.Y., and his growing consciousness of the fundamental problems of race and class in American society, with some materials from his wartime years as an undergraduate at Oberlin College. The second part of the collection includes books collected by Meier during his academic career, mostly on African American history and culture. Titles range from works on the Civil Rights movement to literature and poetry of the late nineteenth century and Harlem Renaissance, works on slavery and antislavery, race theory, the South, and African American education and religion.

Subjects

African Americans--HistoryAntislavery movementsCamps--New York (State)Civil rights movementsCommunists--United StatesDepressions--1929Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt),1868-1963Oberlin College--StudentsPioneer Youth of AmericaRace relationsWorld War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-

Types of material

NewslettersSongbooks
Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Miscellaneous Manuscripts

1717-2003
10 boxes 8 linear feet
Call no.: MS 719

Miscellaneous Manuscripts is an artificial collection that brings together single items and small groups of related materials. Although the collection reflects the general collecting emphases in SCUA, particularly the history of New England, the content ranges widely in theme and format.

Subjects

Massachusetts--Economic conditions--18th centuryMassachusetts--Economic conditions--19th centuryMassachusetts--HistoryMassachusetts--Politics and governmentMassachusetts--Social conditions--18th centuryMassachusetts--Social conditions--19th centuryMassachusetts--Social conditions--20th century

Types of material

Account booksCorrespondencePhotographs
Moore, Robert B., 1947-

Robert B. Moore Collection

1974-2019
1 box .20 linear feet
Call no.: RG 050/6 1969 M66

An educator and activist for understanding race awareness, racial bias, and racism, Robert B. Moore created white-on-white awareness training as a way to help white educators and other white people confront and understand the white chauvinism and distorted white self-image that American culture conditions and perpetuates. Born on February 18, 1947, in Haverill, Mass., Moore also lived in Bangor, Me., as a child. At UMass, he majored in government, graduating in 1969. He returned to pursue his doctorate in the School of Education and received his Ed.D. in February 1974. Moore’s dissertation, “A rationale, description and analysis of a racism awareness and action training program for white teachers,” formed the basis of his presentation and training program, “The Cultural Perpetuation of the Rightness of Whiteness,” which was used by him and other trainers from 1974 into the early 2000s. Moore worked as a consultant specializing in antiracist behavior and focusing on the impacts—social, economic, political, and more—of racism on both victims and oppressors, and he was also involved in SISA (Sisters in Support of Sisters in South Africa). His work took him all over the U.S. and into Canada and New Zealand. He died in New York in 1991.

The heart of the Moore Collection is a digitally recreated version of his original presentation, encompassing a slide show and a recording of Moore’s voice. Also included are a draft transcript of the presentation, some documentation of Moore’s life and work, and an appreciation by his colleague and friend Jim Edler. Moore’s and Edler’s dissertations are available in the Libraries’ ScholarWorks digital repository.

Gift of James M. Edler, Dec. 2019

Subjects

Race awareness--Study and teaching--United StatesRace discrimination--HistoryRace identity--Study and teaching--United StatesStereotypes (Social psychology)Stereotypes (Social psychology) in mass media--United States

Contributors

Edler, James M.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Portsmouth Branch (Portsmouth, N.H.)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Portsmouth Branch (Portsmouth, N.H.) Records

1963-1966
1 box 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1006

The first New Hampshire branch of the NAACP was formed in Portsmouth in 1958, meeting initially in the home of its first president, the local businessman Thomas Cobbs. Growing steadily during the 1960s, the Portsmouth membership were engaged in addressing local concerns over discrimination in housing and employment and were stalwart supporters of the national civil rights struggle.

This small collection of records from a local New England branch of the NAACP consists of minutes of meetings between 1963 and 1966 and a relatively miscellaneous assortment of fliers and other materials from the national organization. Although the collection is slight, it includes records NAACP actions in Portsmouth and, notably, the minutes were kept by Betty Hill and her husband Barney, who became well known for their claim to having an encounter with a UFO.

Subjects

African Americans--New HampshireCivil rights movements--New HampshireDiscrimination in housing--New Hampshire

Contributors

Cobbs, ThomasHill, Barney, 1922-1969Hill, Betty (Eunice)

Types of material

Minutes (Administrative records)
Neill, D. Monty

D. Monty Neill Collection

1986 Feb.-Apr.
2 boxes 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1061

An educator and scholar of educational assessment, Monty Neil is the Executive Director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest). For his doctorate at Harvard in the mid-1980s, Neill examined the impact of the 1974 desegregation order affecting Boston’s public schools and the ongoing search within the city’s African American community for quality and equity in education. He completed his dissertation, The Struggle of Boston’s Black Community for Quality and Equality in Education: 1960-1985, in 1987.

The 33 audiocassettes in this collection include interviews with 29 activists and educational and political leaders in Boston, predominantly from the city’s African American community, include in-depth discussions about the busing crisis in Boston during the late 1970s and early 1980s, its aftermath, and the ongoing search for educational equity and quality. The tapes were recorded between January and April 1986 as part of Neill’s dissertation research.

Gift of Monty Neill, Dec. 2018

Subjects

African Americans--Massachusetts--BostonBoston (Mass.)--History--20th centuryBoston (Mass.)--Politics and government--20th centuryBusing for school integration--Massachusetts--BostonCivil rights movements--Massachusetts--BostonPublic schools--Massachusetts--BostonSegregation in education--Massachusetts--Boston

Contributors

Breeden, James P. (James Pleasant)Haskins, Kenneth, 1923-1994Jones, Hubie, 1933-King, Melvin, 1928-O'Bryant, John D., 1931-1992Owens, Bill, 1937-Owens-Hicks, ShirleySmith, Mary EllenSnowden, Muriel S. (Muriel Sutherland), 1916-

Types of material

Audiocassettes
New York Anti-Klan Network

New York Anti-Klan Network Records

1977-1983
4 boxes
Call no.: 1160

Sandy Smith, one of the Communist Workers' Party activists killed at the Death to the Klan March, Nov. 1979

The National Anti-Klan Network (NAKN) was founded in Atlanta, Georgia by Rev. C.T. Vivian and Anne Braden in 1979, following attacks by armed members of the Ku Klux Klan during a march organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Decatur, Alabama, and the murder of five demonstrators of the Communist Workers Party in Greensboro, North Carolina in November 1979. The organization grew throughout the 1980s, working with other anti-Klan organizations to spread awareness of the continued violence and growing influence of the Klu Klux Klan.

In 1984, NAKN leadership began examining and reconsidering what the organization stood for, trying to ensure it was focused on working to end white supremacy. In 1985, after this year-long reassessment, the National Anti-Klan Network changed their name to the Center for Democratic Renewal to articulate their broader goals towards fighting racism.

This small collection contains correspondence, contact lists, anti-Klan handouts, and sources of information used by the New York chapter of the Anti-Klan Network, some of which pertain to the NAKN. It also includes newspaper clippings documenting KKK activity and other examples of racism in the early 1980s, and numerous reports of KKK activity and newsletters from other anti-klan groups. There is also a series of color slides used as part of an organizing slide show entitled “Greensboro Massacre – Turn the Country Upside Down to Avenge the CWP5” that documents the Greensboro murders of the Communist Workers’ Party activists and anti-racist/labor organizing.


              

Gift of Jeff Perry, 2021.

Subjects

Activists--United StatesCivil rightsGreensboro Massacre, Greensboro, N.C., 1979Political activists--United StatesRacism against Black people

Contributors

Speigel, Mike

Types of material

Color slidesCorrespondenceHandbillsNewslettersNewspaper clippingsOfficial reports
Restrictions: none none