Magazine article The Crisis

Alabama Unseals Papers Monitoring Those in Civil Rights Movement

Magazine article The Crisis

Alabama Unseals Papers Monitoring Those in Civil Rights Movement

Article excerpt

The remaining unsealed records of the Alabama Legislative Commission to Preserve the Peace were opened this year for public view. Founded in 1963 by an act of the Alabama legislature, the civil rights era organization investigated the moves of socalled militants, communists and subversives using informants to infiltrate such groups as the NAACP, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Black Muslims and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

According to Alden Moore, archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Ala., where the papers are housed, the agency was charged with studying, investigating, analyzing and interrogating "persons, groups and organizations who may be engaged in activities of an unlawful nature against the sovereignty of the state and against the peace and dignity of the state."

The commission, which disbanded in 1978, was composed of five unpaid members, three appointed by the Alabama Speaker of the House and two appointed by the state's Senate President Pro Tempore. Commissioners met in places that were "open or closed to the public" and shared their findings with Alabama's governor and the legislature.

The documents' release were stalled by court action for 20 years - well after the initial batch of papers was made public - because minors, including a White boy involved in a schoolhouse quarrel with two African American girls in Brundidge, Ala., were mentioned.

One report in the files, which were released this summer, describes plans for a demonstration and notes a Black informant named "Jim" from Birmingham. …

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