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AFSC celebrates Black History Month


February is Black History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the hard won victories for civil rights and racial justice. It's also a time to reflect on how far we’ve come both as a nation and as a community, and how much work we still have to do. As part of this time of celebration and reflection, we’d like to share a few resources and highlights of AFSC’s work for civil rights and racial justice that continues to this day.

Participants hold an outdoor discussion at the Community Unity Conference
AFSC's Civil Rights Efforts, 1925-1950

Long before the civil rights movement, AFSC identified interracial tensions as an underlying injustice in U.S. culture, causing immense suffering and potentially leading to violence. That is why we set to work on this issue as early as 1925 and continue to this day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King sit on a couch, in conversation.
From India to Birmingham: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s connections with AFSC

A brief history of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s involvement with the Quaker organization, the American Friends Service Committee.

Letter from Birmingham City Jail cover from the original 1963 AFSC edition
Letter from Birmingham City Jail: What would King say today?

AFSC published Letter from Birmingham City Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr. in May, 1963. In this post for AFSC’s Acting in Faith blog, Victoria Greene, executive director of the EMIR Healing Center, which offers support to families of murder victims, writes about her first encounter with the letter and how it changed her relationship with King.

Martin Luther King Jr.
AFSC's history with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's Poor People’s Campaign

This collection of historical documents highlights AFSC’s involvement in the Poor People’s Campaign, which was organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The campaign addressed the issues of economic justice and housing for the poor in the United States. 

Eva Clayton
Looking back at 1963 voting rights project in rural North Carolina

In the segregated South, in the summer of 1963, the first interracial group to live together in Warren County took up residence in a tiny, sweltering apartment over Brown's Superette and Grill. 

Person from Youth Undoing Institutional Racism presents at the front of a class
Help eradicate racism through learning and reflection

Read and watch these resources with family, friends, and faith or community groups to foster dialogue and understanding about racism and racial privilege.

Virginia Margaret Alexander in her office, 1934 (From the Collections of the Uni
A story incomplete: Virginia Alexander's life among Friends

This post from AFSC's Acting in Faith blog is a summary of Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble's paper, "Medicine, Religion, and Social Activism: The Life of Dr. Virginia M. Alexander, A Forgotten Black Quaker." Dr. Alexander founded the Aspiranto Health Home in her own house in North Philadelphia, where she operated an integrated, socialized medical practice that provided much needed medical care to the black community.