Neonta Williams (left) shares family letters dating back to 1901 with preservationist Kimberly Peach during the Smithsonian's Save our African American Treasures program at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Peach advises her to use archive-quality polyester sleeves to protect the fragile papers, rather than store them in a zip-lock bag. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

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Fannie Lou Hamer, a leader of the Freedom Democratic party, speaks before the credentials committee of the Democratic national convention in Atlantic City, N.J., on Aug. 22, 1964. AP hide caption

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Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group, launched a grass-roots effort to make the Deep South's culture more accepting of gays and lesbians. Brad Clark discusses the group's work in Mississippi. Rogelio V. Solis/AP hide caption

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Black demonstrators run down a Natchez, Miss., street in 1967 after a report that several white youths with a gun were near. The town's civil rights past informs author Greg Iles' crime fiction. AP hide caption

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