POLL POWER: THE VOTER EDUCATION PROJECT AND THE FINANCING OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, 1961-1992 Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 20, 2019
Creator
  • Faulkenbury, T. Evan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
Abstract
  • The Voter Education Project (VEP) was a discreet civil rights agency that funded African American registration campaigns throughout Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Formed in 1961 by civil rights leaders, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, and philanthropists, the VEP operated within the Southern Regional Council (SRC) to finance local movements and collect data on black disfranchisement. Headquartered in Atlanta, the VEP solicited grants from foundations—including the Taconic Foundation, the Field Foundation, the Stern Family Fund, and the Ford Foundation—and disbursed the money to activists conducting registration drives across the American South. The VEP supported the “Big Five”—the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Urban League (NUL)—as well as independent grassroots organizations. The VEP empowered activists by giving them funds for everyday expenses for an indigenous movement, including money to pay for office rent, flyers, salaries, food, utilities, mass meetings, car fuel, and canvassers to knock on doors. The VEP funded the southern civil rights movement, focused the struggle onto voting rights activism, and united a southwide social movement that ended Jim Crow at the ballot box. Between 1962 and 1964, the first VEP helped register approximately 688,000 African Americans, stoking a groundswell of registration enthusiasm that laid the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The second VEP ran from 1966 through 1969 continuing to fight for power at the polls, until conservatives undercut the VEP by complicating philanthropic donations to registration fieldwork through the Tax Reform Act of 1969. The VEP survived until 1992, but struggled after director John Lewis resigned in 1976.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Leloudis, James
  • Sturkey, William
  • Waterhouse, Benjamin
  • Korstad, Robert
  • Jackson, Jerma
  • Brundage, W. Fitzhugh
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016
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