Maria Varela's Flickering Light: Literacy, Filmstrips, and the Work of Adult Literacy Education in the Civil Rights Movement

Michael Dimmick


In this article, I take up the underrecognized and almost unstudied literacy work of Maria Varela, a Latinx Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) staff member in charge of developing literacy materials for African Americans in the South during the 1960s. I analyze the use of community activism in the multimodal literacy materials that Varela and African American communities collaboratively produced. These filmstrips played a critical role in those communities developing a new ethos of place: an imagined and embodied relationship between local and national communities that offers a new identity, sense of participatory agency, and place from which to speak.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.