Project Background

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is accepting proposals for an oral history partner for LDF’s new oral history initiative, a three-year first phase project to begin in January 2022. The oral history initiative will be administered by the Archives team of LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI), a multidisciplinary center within LDF. The initiative aims to document, archive, and share the human stories and impacts of LDF’s racial justice litigation and advocacy. The oral history partner will be responsible for coordinating, conducting, finalizing, and reviewing professional quality video oral history interviews with 30 to 40 individuals who have played important roles in LDF’s racial justice litigation and advocacy efforts since the earliest days of the Civil Rights Movement. Prospective interviewees will be former LDF clients, cooperating counsel, local and national civil rights advocates, and community activists located throughout the Southern United States, where LDF has litigated and continues to litigate most of its cases. Interviewees are also located in other areas, including but not limited to Washington, D.C., California, New York State, and Massachusetts. Although LDF plans for all oral history interviews to be in-person, the oral history partner will work closely with LDF’s Archives team throughout the project period to monitor safety risks and travel restrictions due to COVID-19 or climate related emergencies and determine the safest course of action for everyone involved with the project.

About LDF & TMI

LDF is the country’s first and foremost civil and human rights law firm. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who subsequently became the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, LDF was launched at a time when the nation’s aspirations for equality and due process of law were stifled by widespread state-sponsored racial inequality. From that era to the present, LDF’s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality, and an inclusive society. Launched in 2015, TMI complements LDF’s traditional litigation strengths and brings critical capabilities to the fight for racial justice, including research, public education, and targeted advocacy campaigns.  TMI also houses LDF’s Archives, a collection of materials chronicling the history of LDF. To learn more, visit www.naacpldf.org.

Role of the Oral History Partner

The oral history partner will be responsible for coordinating, conducting, finalizing, and reviewing professional quality video oral history interviews with 30 to 40 individuals who have been directly involved with LDF’s racial justice litigation. Many of the interviews will require multiple interview sessions. The LDF Archives team has identified an initial list of prospective interviewees. The oral history partner will work with the LDF Archives team to identify additional interviewees and coordinate outreach. The oral history partner will also coordinate with the LDF Archives team on general project design and question development and to access research materials for interview preparation, including travel to the Library of Congress to access early LDF records.

The oral history partner will be responsible for interviewee communication, interview coordination, research preparation, travel coordination, developing and implementing consent/release protocols, and post-interview processing (transcription, auditing, editing). The oral history partner will also be responsible for conducting reviews of all finalized oral histories to make recommendations to LDF for topics, themes, segments, and quotes that may be used by LDF for educational, communications, or promotional purposes. Finally, the oral history partner will be responsible for delivering all interview materials and related work product to LDF by agreed upon deadlines throughout the three-year project period. Segments from the oral histories will be featured on a new LDF Archives website set to be launched in 2023.

Download the Request for Proposals here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I contact LDF if I have questions about the project or request for proposals?

Yes. All questions related to the oral history project or the request for proposals must be sent to [email protected]. The LDF Archives team will respond to questions until the submission deadline. Please do not contact LDF about the status of your proposal.

I’m an independent oral historian, can I submit a proposal?

Yes. We encourage proposals from organizations, institutions, and independent oral historians and memory workers passionate about oral history, public memory, and racial justice. We also recognize that this is a major oral history project that will require significant project management, coordination, communication, and travel, so we encourage independent practitioners to submit proposals as part of a team (for example, a team might consist of an oral historian, a legal history researcher, a professional videographer, and project manager). We strongly encourage BIPOC oral historians and memory workers to submit proposals.

Are there educational requirements?

No. Although serious candidates must have extensive experience in oral history project management and cultural memory work, applicants are not required to have undergraduate or advanced degrees. Key qualifications also include relevant lived experience and deep interest in U.S. racial, cultural, and legal history, specifically the role of the LDF in civil rights and racial justice movements throughout the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Is there a limit for the project budget?

No. In asking for a detailed project budget, LDF is looking for budgets that reflect a clear understanding of what resources will be required to successfully carry out a major nationwide oral history project. LDF supports fair and equitable compensation for oral historians and memory workers and is strongly committed to ensuring fair and equitable compensation for all labor undertaken as part of this project.

Is the oral history partner responsible for archiving the oral histories?

No.The oral histories and related project materials will initially be archived in the LDF Archives and may be preserved at other archival repositories in the future. 

Who will own the oral histories and other project materials?

Although the oral history partner will be publicly acknowledged for their role, LDF will own and hold copyright to all oral history interviews conducted as part of the oral history project. LDF will also own all materials generated as part of the oral history project, such as interview research notes, project blueprints, interview guides, correspondence, etc. All work done on this project will be deemed a “work made for hire” and/or all intellectual property resulting from this project will be assigned to LDF by the oral history partner. 

How will project funding be allocated?

Once the contract, project budget, and scope of work have been finalized by LDF and the oral history partner, an initial installment of funds will be disbursed to the oral history partner at the start of the contract period. Subsequent funding installments will be on a quarterly basis and will be contingent on the oral history partner submitting quarterly progress reports to LDF and meeting agreed upon benchmarks and deliverables.

Submitting Your Proposal

Proposals are due by Friday, October 29, 2021. Please create a single PDF document that includes your responses to the proposal questions and all supplemental materials. Submit the document to [email protected] with a subject line that includes the name of your project lead. We look forward to reviewing your proposal.

Project Timeline

Proposal Questions

Please limit each response to 300 words or less.

Tell us about you. Are you submitting as an individual, team, organization, or institution? Why you would be the best oral history partner for this project? Please tell us about your past experiences managing oral history projects as well as your oral history ethics and principles.

Tell us who would be involved. Who will be on your team? What will their responsibilities be? Why did you build this team? Please also identify the project lead who will serve as the main point of contact.

Tell us how you would plan and execute the project. How would you manage this project? How would you be sure to meet the project goals, deliverables, and timelines?

Tell us what being involved with this project would mean to you. Why do you want to be the oral history partner? What is your understanding of the role of oral history and public memory to advance racial justice and equality?

Supplemental Materials

Project Budget. Please provide a detailed three-year project budget that demonstrates a clear understanding of the resources needed to successfully carry out the oral history project and all of the responsibilities of the oral history partner. You may include notes or explanations in the budget document.

Work Samples. Please provide a transcript of a complete oral history interview conducted by the person or people on your team that would conduct interviews for this project. Please also provide up to 20 pages of past project blueprints, project designs, and/or interview guides. You may also provide hyperlinks to online portfolios, relevant writings, and digital exhibits.

CVs/Resumes. Provide CVs/resumes of no more than two pages each for every person on the core project team.