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Collection Title: Miller (Michael J.) Civil Rights Collection

Collection Number: M368

Dates: 1958-1988

Volume: 1.8 cubic feet

Provenance: Materials in this collection were donated by Michael J. Miller in June of 2002.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Michael J. Miller graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1958. After Berkeley, he worked as a tenant organizer for the Henry Street Settlement House on New York’s Lower East Side. In 1960, he was fired from the job “for being too militant as a tenant organizer.” He subsequently returned to the San Francisco Bay Area.

By late fall of 1962, Miller had joined the fulltime staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area. In December of 1962, Sam Block and Willie McGee, two SNCC Mississippi Project staff who were on a fund-raising tour to the San Francisco Bay Area, invited Miller to participate in the voter registration campaign in the northwestern plantation counties of the Mississippi Delta.

In 1963, Miller went to Mississippi to serve as a field secretary in Greenwood, in Leflore County, where he worked in a variety of support functions for the Movement there. Typically, SNCC began their campaigns by exploring the economic and political history of a target community. Field workers were supplied by SNCC’s own research office with detailed information on a community’s economic and financial power structure.

By the spring of 1963, SNCC had 20 staff members and six offices in Mississippi. By August of 1963, SNCC had projects and permanent staff in a dozen Mississippi communities. Furthermore, there were 12 workers in SNCC's Atlanta headquarters, and 60 field secretaries and 121 fulltime volunteers working in projects in the Black Belt counties of Arkansas, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as SNCC projects in Danville, Virginia and elsewhere in the deep South.

Like other SNCC staff, and other members of the Mississippi Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), an umbrella organization set up to end duplication of efforts among local and national civil rights groups, Miller faced acts of lawlessness from whites who wished to keep the status quo. For example, Miller and two companions were run off the road in Tchula, in Holmes County, Mississippi. The local hospital refused to provide the needed medical treatment for the three so the town’s African American undertaker took them to the University Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, for the medical treatment that saved their lives.

Despite acts of lawlessness, SNCC decided to send volunteers to Mississippi for Freedom Summer 1964. According to SNCC’s Mississippi Project Director, Bob Moses, Freedom Summer’s goals were to expand black voter registration in Mississippi, organize a legally established “Freedom Democratic Party” to challenge the whites only Mississippi Democratic Party, to establish “freedom schools;” and to open community centers to help African Americans obtain legal and medical assistance.

Miller worked for a short time in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1963, but did not participate in Freedom Summer. In October of 1966, Miller took a job working for the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) with Saul Alinsky in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1968, he returned to San Francisco, his hometown, where in 1972, he started the ORGANIZE Training Center (OTC), which initiates new organizing projects and trains people in a variety of community and labor organizing efforts. Miller has also been active in efforts which opposed U. S. intervention in Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

In addition, he has served as editor and has contributed numerous articles to Social Policy, the periodical, which “seeks to inform and report on the work of labor and community organizers who build union and constituency-based groups, run campaigns, and build movements for social justice, economic equality, and democratic participation in the U. S. and around the world.” Of his earlier experiences, Mike Miller writes, “My own work since founding OTC has been an effort to wed my Berkeley, SNCC and Alinsky experiences.”



Contents of the Collection
Miller, Mike. "Mentors." Social Policy 39, no. 2 (Winter 1999): 39-42.
Miller, Mike. "Mississippi Musings: Freedom Summer Revisited." Social Policy 25, no. 1
(Fall 1994): 46-61.

Related Collections:

M345 Adams (Victoria Gray) Papers

Scope and Content:

The inclusive dates of the collection are 1958 to 1988, but the bulk of the collection consists of correspondence and materials from 1964 to 1966, which document Michael J. Miller's tenure as a fulltime staff member on the Student Nonviolent Student Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1962 to 1966 in Mississippi. Specifically, the collection contains correspondence and materials on the Mississippi Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), Freedom Summer of 1964, Freedom Schools, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), and on other SNCC-related activities in Mississippi and in other states.

Box and Folder List

Box 1    
Folder 1 Information Relating to Michael J. Miller undated
Folder 2 Letters By Michael J. Miller and Letters to Michael J. Miller (general) December 19, 1963 - November 2, 1966; undated
Folder 3 SNCC-Related Addresses January 7, 1977; undated
Folder 4 SNCC-Related Materials 1963-1964; undated
Folder 5 Stokely Carmichael 1966-1967; undated
Folder 6 SNCC: Leadership Related 1964-1965; undated
Folder 7 Bob Moses 1964-1965
Folder 8 Fannier Lou Hamer 1988; undated
Folder 9 Southern Justice: An Indictment 1965
Folder 10 Civil Rights in the South undated
Folder 11 Federal Civil Rights Authority undated
Folder 12 SNCC: Campus Programs undated
Folder 13 SNCC: Alabama 1964-1966; undated
Folder 14 SNCC: Lowndes County, Alabama ca. 1966
Folder 15 SNCC: Arkansas 1965-1966
Folder 16 SNCC: Cesar Chavez and Farm Workers ca. 1966
Folder 17 SNCC: Los Angeles, California ca. 1965-1966
Folder 18 SNCC Correspondence: West & Bay Area, California 1964-1966
Folder 19 SNCC: Bay Area, California 1965-1966
Box 2    
Folder 1 SNCC Correspondence: Georgia 1964-1966
Folder 2 SNCC: Atlanta, and Atlanta projects ca. 1963-1966; undated
Folder 3 Atlanta, Georgia- Related 1965-1974
Folder 4 SNCC: Georgia and Southwest Georgia 1964-1965
Folder 5 Mississippi: A Chronology of Violence and Intimidation in Mississippi Since 1961 ca. 1963
Folder 6 Mississippi Government Around The Civil Rights Era 1962-1965; undated
Folder 7 Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) 1963-1964
Folder 8 Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman Murders June 21, 1964
Folder 9 SNCC: Mississippi 1962-1965; undated
Folder 10 Revolution in Mississippi ca. 1962
Folder 11 Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964
Folder 12 SNCC: A Special Report on Southern School Desegregation ca. 1966
Folder 13 Issaquena - Sharkey Consolidated School District (Rolling Fork, Sharkey County, Mississippi) 1965
Folder 14 Freedom Schools 1964; undated
Folder 15 Freedom Schools 1963; undated
Box 3    
Folder 1 SNCC and Mississippi Summer Project 1964
Folder 2 Freedom Centers and Freedom Information Service 1964-1966
Folder 3 SNCC: Community Centers undated
Folder 4 Medical Committee for Human Rights and Related Information ca. 1964
Folder 5 Mississippi Proverty and Efforts to Alleviate Poverty 1963-1966
Folder 6 Free Southern Theater undated
Folder 7 Voter Registration in the South 1966
Folder 8 Contested Elections Statutes undated
Folder 9 Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) Challenges 1963-1965; undated
Folder 10 Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) Challenges 1965-1966; undated
Folder 11 WATS Reports 1965-1966
Folder 12 SNCC Research (Reports on Mississippi Counties) 1965
Folder 13 Varied Newsletters on Mississippi Counties and Cities 1964-1965; undated
Folder 14 Varied Writings on Mississippi Counties and Cities 1963-1966
Folder 15 SNCC Correspondence: Mississippi 1963-1964; undated
Box 4    
Folder 1 Mississippi Student Union (MSU) undated
Folder 2 Mississippi Freedom Labor Union undated
Folder 3 Mississippi Freedom Corps (Proposal) undated
Folder 4 Mississippi Boycotts and Strikes undated
Folder 5 Non-Violence/Coercion undated
Folder 6 Highlander Reports August 28, 1961-December 31, 1964
Folder 7 SNCC: Mississippi File Index undated
Folder 8 Committe To Aid The Monroe, North Carolina Defenfents 1961-1964
Folder 9 SNCC: Northern Staff and The North 1965; undated
Folder 10 A Brief History of Duke Employees Local 77 AFSCME, AFL-CIO 1966
Folder 11 SNCC: Texas 1967
Folder 12 SNCC: Danville, Virginia June 10, 1963
Folder 13 The South undated
Folder 14 Letters To The Editors 1964-1966
Folder 15 SNCC Newsletter and The Student Voice 1964-1967

Folder 16

Life With Lyndon In the Great society

More Life With Lyndon In The Great Society

January 22, 1965-December 2, 1965

February 3, 1965

Folder 17 SNCC-Related Poetry/Songs/Writings 1963-1966; undated
Folder 18 SNCC: Vietnam 1965-1966; undated
Folder 19 Voter Education Project 1972 Annual Report 1972
Folder 20 Southern Student Organizing Committee 1964; undated
Folder 21 Political Rehabilitation Center (Proposal) undated
Folder 22 Free University (Proposal) undated


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