… honoring the badass data managers of the American civil rights movement
Behind every megaphone, there are dozens of clipboards. These are archival profiles of civil rights heroes who kept data flowing, from fundraising to recruitment to voter registration to legal defense, and so much more. The culmination of years of original, independent research, this project showcases my passion for archives, social movement history, and data management.
Browse themed blog posts
- We should thank our front line data entry staff. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did!Who enters data? To what extent does their opinion matter? How often do we thank them? I look into these questions, and more, in this post about Dr. King’s secretaries.
- expository notes on record keepingIn my quest to study archival resources from the American Civil Rights Movement, this morning I encountered two parallel documents that illuminate multiple perspectives on the administrative history of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Council), the main organizing platform of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- what about the master’s tools?What role should technologists play in social movements? Let’s check in with some movement all stars. Spoiler alert – it depends!
- exposition on building a civil rights outcomes tracking databaseReading about the SCLC’s impact in their voter registration efforts leads to a fantasy about how to build a database for civil rights metrics. Hats off to my personal hero, Jack O’Dell.
- to bob moses, rest in powerDid you know that one of the Civil Rights Movement’s most dynamic leaders was a mathematician? Read more in this post dedicated to Bob Moses z”l.
- did ella baker have a rolodex?Ella Baker, brilliant organizer and relationship builder, must have kept a list of names and addresses – but exactly where and how are still a mystery. Musings on this and much more about Ella Baker’s legacy (including some primary source documents!).
- clipboard + megaphone: a new perspective on dr. king’s legacy5 lessons from Dr. King and his entourage on movement building through problem solving and behind-the-scenes system crafting.
- behind the seenThis catapulted Mrs. Dungee beyond simple accounting and into visionary/badass/changemaker territory. And of course – underscores lessons that I’m learning more and more every day – there is no such thing as “back office” in social movement organizations. All of our grievances – and all of our work – are connected.
- unsung heroes of a singing movementIn the latest installment of civil writes, mailing lists! solidarity! Angela Davis! and a special appearance by Francois Clemmons!
- from bus boycott to badass bureaucracyThe Montgomery Boycott lasted 382 days – and throughout that time, staff and volunteer leaders coordinated intricate carpools with 32 different stops, shepherding 40,000 people to their destinations. I want to learn the story of how they orchestrated such a sophisticated system, so I’m following a breadcrumb trail, and I’m going to share some of that story with you here.
- care work is system thinkingA new take on the Civil Rights Movement that centers women and reproductive justice. A badass crew of ordinary chefs take the Montgomery bus boycott by storm. And a skeevy dude becomes a famous Lefty (?) for being a mail appeal expert. All that, and more…
- bread scare: the story of Jack O’Dell and resourcing the SCLCStanley Levison and Jack O’Dell were operations masterminds, fundraising trailblazers, and behind-the-scenes brains-and-brawn who kept the SCLC afloat during some tough times. And I’m not the only person who thinks so! Yet, these figures loom obscure despite their utter brilliance. Read on to learn the history of SCLC fundraising in the early 60’s.
- fieldnotes on contested elections and membership dataIn this post, mobilizing during a contested election and the behind-the-scenes Civil Rights admin prowess of Reverend Nelson H. Smith, Jr.
- how? do? you? know?!Today, I want you to “meet” Septima Clark. When I think about bad ass, behind the scenes, stalwart, visionary, get-shit-done program and operations leaders from freedom movements of the 1960’s, I think of her. Part two in my “Civil Writes” series.
- fieldnotes on kayfabe and spreadsheetsHis is a story of spreadsheet skill badassery, deep commitment to relationship, earning a reputation of showing up when it counts, and long-term, follow-through solidarity that lights my fire. An ESSAY about social movements, pro wrestling, and spreadsheet superstars.