Ben Wright

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced on Monday he has donated his political and professional papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies at UT. The donation will help the Briscoe Center continue to expand their political collection.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Monday he has donated his political and professional papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American Studies. 

Richardson’s papers — his letters, and press releases and news clippings from throughout his political career — will help the Briscoe Center expand its political collection, according to Ben Wright, public affairs officer for the Center.

“The Richardson collection fits in with some of the other collections we have, [from] congressmen and even Texas governors,” Wright said. “Adding his collection helps us continue to grow.”

The collection coming to UT consists of 300 boxes of material currently being processed and catalogued at the Collections Deposit Library on campus.

Wright said Center officials began attempting to acquire Richardson’s collection about a year ago, and said they are happy to continue developing the center’s existing collections. 

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico State University began pursuing Richardson’s documents back in 2008. New Mexico State University spokesman Justin Bannister said at the time, Richardson told the university he would respond to their request for the documents, but he never did.

Cinnamon Blair, spokesperson for the University of New Mexico, said University officials did not try to acquire the collection.

“The University of New Mexico has never pursued those particular papers, and Gov. Richardson never contacted UNM to discuss leaving them to the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections,” Blair said.

In accordance with New Mexico state law, papers from Richardson’s days as governor must go the New Mexico State Archives. Wright said he feels the items that should be in the archives according to state law are already there. 

Wright said he believes the Center is a better location for the documents because it has digital collections and allocates Smith Research Travel Awards, so that researchers outside of Austin can come see the collections.

“With these collections here at the Center, we are working to digitize collections, so students and other researchers can access this information across the country,” Wright said.   

During Richardson’s time as governor from 2003–2011, New Mexico improved in clean energy, education, transportation, healthcare and immigration and succeeded $1 billion in tax cuts for the citizens. 

Richardson also served as a U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy for President Bill Clinton.

Social work professor Yolanda Padilla’s UGS class ‘How To Change the World’ tours the March to Freedom exhibit at the Lyndon Baynes Johnson Presidential Library on Tuesday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

An exhibit honoring the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, one of America’s most pivotal civil rights events, is now on display at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. 

The first half of the exhibit, “March to Freedom,” features photos, documents and videos from the Selma-to-Montgomery marches that occurred from March 7–25, 1965. The marches, which civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis led, were vital to the national support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that ultimately led to its passage. 

The second half of the exhibit displays photos from the 2014 Civil Rights Summit in Austin, which took place at the LBJ Library. President Barack Obama and Lewis, who is now a U.S. representative from Georgia, both attended the Civil Rights Summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Don Carleton — the executive director of the Briscoe Center for American History, which houses many of the photos that were selected for the exhibit — said it was symbolic to show photos from both the 1965 marches and the Civil Rights Summit. 

“There’s beautiful symmetry in having a photo [at the exhibit] of John Lewis, who was beaten in those marches, hugging President Obama 50 years later,” Carleton said. “[The University] has been in the business of promoting African-American history and documenting it for a long time.” 

The exhibit has a powerful message that should reach American generations both past and present, according to Ben Wright, public affairs officer for the Briscoe Center. 

“The photos, images and documents are a reminder to us all about the triumphs and tragedy of the 1960s and of the civil rights movement,” said Wright. “There was horrendous brutality and intimidation, and, yet, there is also encouragement, hope and progress. We see those together in the exhibit.”

Displays such as “March to Freedom” create a more inclusive university environment for underrepresented minority students, said Khady Diack, a human development and family sciences junior and member of UT’s Afrikan Americans Affairs organization.

“I feel like, [at UT], I am very unrepresented since African-Americans are less than 5 percent of the total University population,” Diack said. “To have a bit of our history displayed and represented is very important.”

Diack said she believes UT could do more to represent African-Americans.

“I want the University to do more things like this because one of the reasons more African-Americans don’t come here is because they feel like it’s an underrepresented community,” Diack said.

The exhibit will be on display until April 12.