Skip to main content

Virginia Student Civil Rights Committee Oral History collection

Identifier: M 559

Content Description

Oral histories taken for the VSCRC 50th Reunion Oral History Project in Blackstone, VA. Professors Brian Daugherity and Ryan Smith interview former members of the VSCRC to obtain information about their work with the organization in the 1960s, in addition to their work with Civil Rights in general.


  • Creation: 20 June 2015
  • Creation: 09 April 2016


Biographical / Historical

The Virginia Student Civil Rights Committee (VSCRC) grew out of the December 1964 conference The Movement- The Student- Upper South, organized by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Although the committee evolved from a SNCC sponsored event, the VSCRC was not formally or officially affiliated with any other organizations. The purpose of the VSCRC was to increase communications among black and white college students involved in the civil rights movement in Virginia by holding monthly meetings of the elected representatives from participating colleges and universities. The original members realized that they did not have to go into the Deep South to encounter the major civil rights violations as there were many problems in the Commonwealth, particularly in the more rural counties of Southside Virginia. The committee planned for a conference in the spring of 1965 and assigned people to research and plan for a summer project in Virginia. The committee ultimately focused on empowering local people and groups in Southside to make changes in their own communities themselves.

The leadership of the VSCRC felt there was not enough focus on local, people-oriented, and self-led organizing. They decided to focus on Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, working in six Southside counties to empower local Black residents to agitate for change. They were encouraged to demand better services from their city and local government, to advocate for the desegregation of businesses and community groups, and to register Southside residents to vote. White supremacists and the local Klan noticed the VSCRC’s work and attempted to intimidate or threatened the civil rights activists. Despite this, the VSCRC prevailed, successfully forging ties with the Southside community. Their success was short-lived. Differences of opinions among the membership and ideological disagreements about the escalating war in Vietnam and the emergence of black-power groups like the Black Panthers divided the VSCRC. The changing membership further damaged group cohesiveness and the VSCRC disbanded in 1966.

Further Reading Hall, Simon. Peace and Freedom: The Civil Rights Antiwar Movement in the 1960s. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 2005

Hall, Simon “Civil Rights Activism in 1960s Virginia,” The Journal of Black Studies vol. 38, no 2 (Nov 2007), pp. 251-267

Virginia Students Civil Rights Committee, “A Brief History of the Virginia Students Civil Rights Committee,” The Movement in the Archive, accessed October 30, 2018, Article link.


21.2 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Collection arranged alphabetically by interviewee first name.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The materials are .mp4 files, with each interviewee having their own interview file. The materials must be accessed using a computer or tablet, and can be accessed online through this finding aid under "Collection Organization."

Transcript Information

If you need assistance with access through a transcript, please contact Special Collections at

A Guide to the Virginia Student Civil Rights Committee Oral History collection
A Collection in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University,
Jessica E. Johnson
2018 by Virginia Commonwealth University. All rights reserved.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the VCU James Branch Cabell Library Repository

Special Collections and Archives 901 Park Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23284 USA US
(804) 828-1108