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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 States
Political prisoners--United States
Prisons--United States
Revolutionaries
Contributors
Armed Clandestine Movement
Black Liberation Army
Manning, Tom
Ohio 7
Sam Melville/Jonathan Jackson Unit
Statewide Correctional Alliance for Reform
United Freedom Front
Williams, Raymond C.
Types of material
Photographs
Trials
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--History
Colonies--Africa--History
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
Harlem Renaissance
Historians--United States
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
United 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 Movement
Berkeley Oakland Women's Union
Communists--California
Feminism
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America
Labor unions--California
League of Revolutionary Struggle (M-L)
Prisoners--Massachusetts
Red Prison Movements
Students 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--History
Antislavery movements
Camps--New York (State)
Civil rights movements
Communists--United States
Depressions--1929
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt),1868-1963
Oberlin College--Students
Pioneer Youth of America
Race relations
World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
Braunthal, Gerard, 1923-
Types of material
Newsletters
Songbooks
Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Miscellaneous Manuscripts

1717-2003
6 boxes 3 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 century
Massachusetts--Economic conditions--19th century
Massachusetts--History
Massachusetts--Politics and government
Massachusetts--Social conditions--18th century
Massachusetts--Social conditions--19th century
Massachusetts--Social conditions--20th century
Types of material
Account books
Correspondence
Photographs
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 Hampshire
Civil rights movements--New Hampshire
Discrimination in housing--New Hampshire
Contributors
Cobbs, Thomas
Hill, Barney, 1922-1969
Hill, Betty (Eunice)
Types of material
Minutes (Administrative records)
Paynter, Robert

Robert Paynter Papers

ca. 1970-2015
17 boxes 25.5 linear feet
Call no.: FS 175

After graduating from Brown University with an A.B. in 1971, Robert “Bob” Paynter received his M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) from the Anthropology Department at UMass Amherst. He taught at Queens College and the Graduate Center at CUNY before returning to UMass in 1981 as an Assistant Professor, where he conducted research and taught for the remainder of his career. Paynter studied and practiced historical archaeology on sites throughout Western Massachusetts, most notably Deerfield Village and the W. E. B. Du Bois Homesite in Great Barrington. Throughout his tenure at UMass, he was active on several university and departmental committees, including service to the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP), as well as a member of the Historic Northampton Board of Trustees and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of Historic Deerfield. Bob Paynter retired from the Anthropology Department in 2015.

The Robert Paynter Papers span the length of his career from early articles and presentations given in the 1970s to his more recent research, writing, and teaching. Materials include grant applications, lecture notes, drafts of articles, and committee work, including contributions to the Massachusetts Society of Professors (MSP). Paynter’s ongoing efforts to preserve the Du Bois homesite in Great Barrington are also documented, both his archeological site work and his service on the Advisory Board of the W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation.

Gift of Robert Paynter, 2016
Subjects
Archaeology--Massachusetts
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963--Homes and haunts--Massachusetts--Great Barrington
University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Anthropology
Contributors
Paynter, Robert
Perry, Cynthia Shepard

Cynthia Shepard Perry Papers

1946-2010
7 boxes 10.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 842
Depiction of Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986
Cynthia Shepard Perry, ca.1986

An educator, diplomat, and expert on Africa, Cynthia Shepard Perry was the first recipient of a PhD from of the Program in International Education at UMass Amherst (1972). Born in Burnett, Indiana, in 1928, Perry was raising a family when she set a twenty-five year goal of earning doctorate and entering international service. One year after earning a bachelor’s degree at Indiana State University in 1967, she arranged for her first trip to Africa, leading a secretarial training project at the University of Nairobi, and over succeeding decades, her connections to the continent deepened dramatically. On faculty at Texas Southern University (1971-1982), Perry served as Associate Director of the university’s Peace Corps Program, which resulted in her leading educational projects in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Liberia, and Kenya. In demand for the expertise she had gained, she worked as a consultant to the US Information Service in Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia and as Staff Development Officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa. Having become a full professor and Dean of International Affairs, she left TSU in 1982 to take her first diplomatic post as an officer of the Africa Bureau of the US Agency for International Development, followed by successive appointments as Ambassador to Sierra Leone (1986-1989) and Burundi (1989-1993), as Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, and finally an appointment as U.S. Executive Director of the African Development Bank (1996-2001). Although officially retired, Perry remains active in supporting education and development in Africa from her home in Houston. Among many other awards she has received, Perry was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from UMass for her international work and was recognized by the Salute to Service Award.

A record of a life in international service in Africa, the Perry papers includes materials from Perry’s time as head of the African Development Bank and her two ambassadorial appointments, including speeches, some correspondence, and a handful of publications. The collection also includes a series of awards and plaques, some family photographs, and memorabilia.

Gift of Cynthia Shepard Perry, Oct., 2014
Subjects
Africa--Foreign relations--United States
Burundi--History
Sierra Leone--United States
United States--Foreign relations--Africa
Types of material
Memorabilia
Photographs
Primus, Pearl

Pearl Primus Collection

1995-2006
3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 912

A pioneer of African dance in the United States and a vital scholarly voice, Pearl Primus burst onto the scene in the early 1940s as a choreographer, performer, composer, and teacher. Born in Trinidad in 1919 and raised in New York City, Primus was introduced to performance through the National Youth Administration and the New Dance Group. Her interest in the dance cultures of Africa and the African diaspora formed the conceptual center of her work throughout her career, drawing upon her deep scholarly research. In addition to her creative work, Primus earned a doctorate in anthropology from NYU and taught at a number of universities, including the Five Colleges. She died in New Rochelle, N.Y., in October 1994.

Conducted with Pearl Primus’ fellow dancers, musicians, friends, and collaborators between 1995 and 2005, the interviews comprising this collection were recorded by Peggy and Murray Schwartz for use in their book, The Dance Claimed Me: A Biography of Pearl Primus (New Haven, 2011). The oral histories provide insights into Primus’s sometimes controversial life career, her performances, teaching, and legacy.

Gift of Peggy and Murray Schwartz, Dec. 2013
Subjects
Choreographers
Dance--Africa
Dancers
Contributors
Nash, Joe, 1919-2005
Washington, Donald
Types of material
Audiocassettes
Betacam-SP
Videotapes
Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade

Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade Minute Book

1789-1827
1 vol. 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 935

Founded in 1789, the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade was an early antislavery organization forged in the unique political and social climate of post-Revolutionary Rhode Island. An interdenominational organization with a membership comprised largely of Quakers, the Society served as a self-appointed watchdog for violations of the act abolishing the slave trade and they provided funds to prosecute violators and to support African Americans fighting for their rights in state courts. The Society lay essentially dormant from 1793 to 1824 , when it was revived as an all-purpose antislavery organization, and it appears to have ceased operations in 1827.

The minute book of the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade are an essentially complete record of the organization’s formal meetings. The volume begins by laying out the organization’s constitution and includes listings of officers and members and summary records of their activities.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
African Americans--Rhode Island
Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
Providence (R.I.)--History
Quakers--Rhode Island
Contributors
Brown, Moses, 1738-1832
Howell, David, 1747-1824
Types of material
Minute books