Archives and Special Collections

Central to ASU's resources related to civil rights in particular, and African-American history and culture in general, is the university library's Archives and Special Collections, which contains more than 6,000 multimedia items. Several prestigious collections that support the Center's research are detailed below and can be further explored via ASU’s Library Catalog and the L.W.L.C. Digital Library.

The Ollie L. Brown African-American Heritage Collection is a compilation of multimedia materials representing the contributions of blacks to society. The collection consists of more than 6,000 individual books, exhibits, artifacts and audiovisual items depicting African-American Alabama and the life and history of African-Americans in the nation and the world. Noted collections within the Ollie L. Black African-American Heritage Collections include the following:

The E.D. Nixon Collection includes the papers, books, trophies, plaques, portraits and photographs of the noted civil rights leader, known as the father of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The E.D. Nixon Collection remains one of ASU's most acclaimed collections due to Nixon's prominence as a civil rights leader and to national and international interest in the civil rights movement.

The Collection of the Montgomery Improvement Association includes the papers and artifacts of the organization (MIA) formed in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 5, 1955, to direct the black bus boycott of the city's bus system.

There are also collections of two ASU presidents who figure prominently in the university's history – Dr. Haper Council Trenhom Sr. was ASU's fifth president, and Dr. Levi Watkins the university's sixth president. The Levi Watkins Collection includes original speeches and the working papers, drafts and gallery proofs from the publications of Watkins' two books – Fighting Hard and Alabama State University: The First One Hundred and Fourteen Years.

More recent collections chronicle the intricacies of the Knight vs. State of Alabama federal court case, which sought to remove vestiges of segregation from Alabama's higher education system. The Papers of James U. Blacksher include case documents covering the period of 1981 to the 1990s. Blacksher is the attorney for the ASU case. The Rep. John F. Knight Collection also includes documents relating to the case in which Knight was a lead plaintiff.

The Zelia Stephens Evans Collection covers Stephens' life as a pioneering educator at ASU and her activities in numerous civic, religious and social organizations. Included are manuscripts, photographs, books and awards.

The John L. Busky Collection includes correspondence relating to Buskey's position as ASU's library director, membership chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Montgomery chapter and state representative in the Alabama Legislature.

Oral histories are invariably fascinating because history comes alive with its telling by the participants who helped shape that history. ASU's Oral History Collection includes stories told by Robert Nesbitt Sr., a leading officer of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church who invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to pastor at the historic church and who was an activist in the Montgomery Bus Boycott; retired ASU professor Norman Walton and journalist Inez Baskin, who chronicled the riveting activities of the movement; and Hazel Gregory, who was a secretary of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the group that organized the bus boycott.

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Levi Watkins Library

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In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Alabama State University, the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University announces a call for entries for its juried art show in recognition of this milestone. The exhibit, "Celebrating Alabama State University's Sesquicentennial: 150 Years of Perseverance, Progress and Promise," will be featured at the National Center February 19, 2017 - February 19, 2018. Artists who wish to participate in this exhibit are asked to complete and sign the attached fillable form and submit to the National Center by October 29, 2016, via e-mail to or submit by mail to:

The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and
African-American Culture at Alabama State University
1345 Carter Hill Road
Montgomery, AL 36106

View the flyer >>.

Lift Every Voice:


A newsletter from The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University. Fall 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 1.

View the newsletter >>

The Journey to Freedom: A Mural in Eight Parts


A Visual Interpretation of African-Americans’ Struggle for Recognition as Human Beings and First-Class Citizens

Commissioned by The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African-American Culture at Alabama State University

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Cultural Spotlights

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