Google Cultural Institute Commemorates U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Google teamed with the National Archives to bring historic documents, photos and film clips on the civil rights movement to the online Google Cultural Institute.

The Google Cultural Institute is highlighting the U.S civil rights movement through a fascinating collection of documents, photographs and film clips in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The new online collection is being unveiled just as the LBJ Presidential Library holds a three-day Civil Rights Summit from April 8 through 10 in Austin, Texas, to mark and discuss some of the most monumental legislation of our nation's history.

The new online exhibit and the Civil Rights Summit were announced by Susan Molinari, vice president of public policy for Google, in an April 8 post on the Google Public Policy Blog. Google is providing technology to help support the summit by live streaming panel discussions, presentations and other activities that are ongoing at the event, she wrote. The presentations will also feature comments from four former U.S. presidents.

"Each day will also feature heroes from the civil rights movement, the sports arena and the music industry, as well as panels on new civil rights challenges around immigration rights, gay rights, women's rights and so much more," wrote Molinari. "We hope you can tune in, but if you miss the live stream, you can find all of the content on the LBJ Library's YouTube page."

For those who want to explore the history and eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Google Cultural Institute's new collection is a great starting point. "Much of the content on the site is from the LBJ Presidential Library and features images, letters, telegrams, and video from January 1961 when President Kennedy first takes office to July 1964 when President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law," wrote Molinari.

Among the highlights of the online collection is an emotionally worded telegram from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to President Kennedy from June 1963, as well as a personal request to meet with Kennedy on the day of the March on Washington in August 1963, from one of the organizers of the March. Also included is a copy of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 itself.

The collection, with its photos, documents and other content, is moving as it describes and re-creates the turmoil of the nation during the period, which also included the shocking assassination of President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.

"We are honored to be able to help capture this important event and this special exhibit highlighting one of America's most pivotal moments in history," wrote Molinari in her post.

The Google Cultural Institute has been actively adding to its growing collections.

In March, the Institute unveiled a new online exhibit about the fascinating colonial history of Nigeria as part of the Institute's efforts to preserve cultures that are in danger of being forgotten in the future. In that exhibit, Nigeria's Pan-Atlantic University presented its collection of rare historical documents and photographs spanning the years 1851 to 1914, to tell the story of Nigeria's formation as a colony.

A second exhibition traces the transformation of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, from a cosmopolitan colonial trading center to West Africa's largest metropolis. About half the world's 6,000-plus languages and cultures today will disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to preserve them, according to a recent study from UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). That's where the Google Cultural Institute and its exhibit came in, according to an eWEEK report.