University Library News
Georgia State University

Georgia State University Library announces the opening of “Fighting for Freedom: Labor and Civil Rights in the American South” Exhibition, Panel Discussion, and Digital Collection.

ATLANTA, September 25, 2023 – Georgia State University Library is proud to announce the opening of the “Fighting for Freedom: Labor and Civil Rights in the American South” exhibition and the launch of the digital collection “AFL-CIO Southeast Division Civil Rights Department Records.”These collections of photographs, newspaper clippings, departmental records, audiovisual recordings, and more document the story of the labor unions and civil rights activists who fought together for the freedom of working people in the South.  

“Fighting for Freedom” highlights events such as the impact of school integration on labor union integration, the March on Washington, the push for full employment in the 1970s, civil rights issues, strikes, etc., between 1943 and 1999 and showcases the impactful contributions of figures from prominent organizations such as the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).The exhibition also recognizes the often-overlooked efforts of local employees, union organizers, religious leaders, educators, students, and volunteers. Materials for the exhibits come from the papers of the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department’s Southeast Division and National Office, held respectively by Georgia State University and the University of Maryland. The GSU and UMD Libraries have digitized these papers over the past two years through a $350,000 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

“Digitizing the records and creating the exhibit on the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Southeastern Department supports our mission of providing access to the experience of work and workers in the South, especially the stories of minority workers whose experiences are often overlooked and untold,” says Lisa Vallen, Southern Labor Archivist. “Our goal is to provide the greatest possible access to as much material as possible.”

“Fighting for Freedom” comprises a physical exhibit opening on September 28th and a digital exhibit. The digital exhibit is co-hosted by the GSU Library and Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) with content support from the New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE). The physical exhibit can be viewed on the 8th Floor of Library South on GSU’s Atlanta Campus. The digital collections that support the exhibits will become available for public use on September 25th through the GSU Library and UMD Library digital collections platforms and will also be accessible together in October through the Civil Rights Digital Library hosted by the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG).

To celebrate the opening of both versions of “Fighting for Freedom: Labor and Civil Rights in the American South,” Georgia State University Library is hosting a panel discussion on September 28th from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the 8th floor of Georgia State University Library South. Author and historian Dr. Maurice Hobson, Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Georgia State University, will moderate the panel. The discussion will feature experts who will explore themes in “Fighting for Freedom.”

The panel discussion is free and open to the public. To RSVP, please visit


About the Georgia State University Library

The Georgia State University Library houses over 1.9 million physical volumes, 700,000 ebook titles, 230,000 serial titles, and 280 online databases. The libraries on each of the six campuses provide access to the expertise of librarians and staff dedicated to student success. Special Collections and Archives documents the history of the university, Atlanta, and life in the South, with particular strengths in social change movements during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The 300,000 sq. ft. Atlanta Campus location offers seating for over 2,000, 55 group study rooms, an outdoor terrace, and access to leading-edge computing and visualization technology. To learn more about the University Library, visit