What is the Before 54 Campaign?

 The Before 54 campaign is a national effort to record and archive as many first-hand accounts of life under U.S. segregation laws as possible before the last Black Americans to have lived under them pass away.

We are asking Black Americans to interview their family members and loved ones about their memories of segregation using their cell phone cameras and submit the testimonials for inclusion in our digital archive.

Our long-term goal is to create a digital database where future generations can learn more about what happened to their family members, and Black Americans in general, who lived under U.S. segregation laws before the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

What about people who were born after 1954?

While we recognize that segregation was not officially outlawed until 1964, and there continued to be Black Americans living under separate and unequal policies after its passage, up through today, we have limited this archive to people born before 1945, so that participants would have been at least 10 years of age before segregation was outlawed, and therefore would ideally have concrete memories of living under those stipulations.

What about people who experienced racism, discrimination, segregation or race-based persecutions after the passage of the Civil Rights Act?

We acknowledge that race-based discrimination continues through present time. While this initiative is designed to preserve human experiences prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we hope that these stories will provide lasting lessons that we may all learn from and apply as we continue to fight against racism and racist policies today and into the future.

Are you only looking for stories from people who were raised in the south?

No. Jim Crow laws were not only in the South. The most severe and comprehensive system of Jim Crow laws were enforced in the Southern states, and have had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of Black Americans living in those regions. However, some Northern and Western states also had their own versions of discriminatory laws and policies that targeted African Americans and other minority groups. These included segregation in housing, education, and public accommodations, as well as restrictions on voting rights and employment opportunities. We aim to preserve real life testimonials of Black people living under state-sanctioned segregation in the United States- wherever it occurred.

How can I submit my family’s videos?

To participate in the Before 54 campaign prior to our public launch, please send an inquiry to info@before54.com.

A video upload link will be added to this site following the public launch in 2024.

Can I submit more than one video?

Yes. You may submit as many testimonials as you are able to collect. Please submit a separate testimonial verification sheet for each video to help us better archive process and your submission.

How long should the video be?

There are currently no time restrictions on the videos.

What are you going to do with my family’s video testimonials?

Our long-term goal is to create a public, searchable digital database, where future generations can hear their family members’ segregation testimonials. Videos may also be used for research and storytelling purposes aimed to advance the conversation around race, segregation and policy in America.

Can we submit other items like photos, letters, other memorabilia from the time?

We are not accepting physical objects at this time, however if you have materials that you believe are rare and significant to the preservation of this history, please email us at info@before54.com. Please use the subject line Segregation Artifact Request.