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Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

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Title: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee  
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Subject: African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68), Southern Christian Leadership Conference, African American–Jewish relations, Timeline of African-American history, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Collection: African Americans' Rights Organizations, African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68), Anti–vietnam War Groups, Civil Rights Organizations in the United States, Cointelpro Targets, Counterculture of the 1960S, History of African-American Civil Rights, Nonviolence Organizations, Nonviolence Organizations Based in the United States, Nonviolent Resistance Movements, Post–civil Rights Era African-American History, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Student Political Organizations in the United States, Youth Empowerment Organizations
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Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Formation 1960 (1960)
Purpose Civil Rights Movement
Participative democracy

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, often pronounced "snick": ) was one of the most important organizations of the Arkansas, and Maryland. SNCC played a major role in the sit-ins and freedom rides, a leading role in the 1963 March on Washington, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party over the next few years. SNCC's major contribution was in its field work, organizing voter registration drives all over the South, especially in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.

A final SNCC legacy is the destruction of the psychological shackles which had kept black southerners in physical and mental peonage; SNCC helped break those chains forever. It demonstrated that ordinary women and men, young and old, could perform extraordinary tasks.
— Julian Bond[3]

In the later 1960s, led by fiery leaders such as James Forman said he did not know “how much longer we can stay nonviolent” and in 1969, SNCC officially changed its name to the Student National Coordinating Committee to reflect the broadening of its strategies. It passed out of existence in the 1970s.


  • Founding and early years 1
    • Freedom Riders 1.1
      • Voter registration 1.1.1
      • Participatory democracy 1.1.2
  • March on Washington 2
  • Voting rights 3
  • Change in strategy and dissolution 4
    • Lowndes County Freedom Organization 4.1
    • Stokely Carmichael as chair 4.2
    • Post-1967 4.3
  • SNCC and feminism 5
  • Fiftieth Anniversary Conference 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Founding and early years

Chairmen of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Marion Barry 1960–61
Charles F. McDew 1961–63
John Lewis 1963–66
Stokely Carmichael 1966–67
H. Rap Brown 1967–68
Phil Hutchings 1968–69

Founded in 1960 and inspired by the libraries, public parks, public swimming pools, and movie theaters. At that time, all those facilities financed by taxes were closed to Blacks. The White response was often to close the facility, rather than integrate it.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), as an organization, began with an Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Out of this conference the SNCC was formed.[7][8]

Ella Baker, who organized the Shaw conference, was the SCLC director at the time she helped form SNCC. But SNCC was not a branch of SCLC. Instead of being closely tied to SCLC or the NAACP as a "youth division", SNCC sought to stand on its own. Ms. Baker later lost her job with SCLC, which she had helped found.

Among important SNCC leaders attending the conference were John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette, James Bevel, and Marion Barry from the Nashville Student Movement.

SNCC's first chairman was John Lewis.[9] Stokely Carmichael and H. "Rap" Brown were chairmen in the late 1960s. SNCC's executive secretary, James Forman, played a major role in running the organization.

Freedom Riders

In the years that followed, SNCC members were referred to as “shock troops of the revolution."[10] SNCC took on greater risks in 1961, after a mob of John Lewis, put themselves at great personal risk by traveling in racially-integrated groups into Mississippi as they continued the Ride. Other bus riders followed, traveling through the deep South to test Southern compliance with Federal Law. At least 436 people took part in these Freedom Rides during the spring and summer of 1961.[11]

Voter registration

McComb, Mississippi in 1961 became the seed for much of SNCC's activities from 1962 to 1966.

After the Freedom Rides, SNCC worked primarily on voter registration, and with local protests over segregated public facilities. Registering Black voters was extremely difficult and dangerous. People of Color who attempted to register often lost their jobs and their homes, and sometimes their lives. SNCC workers lived with local families: often the homes providing such hospitality were firebombed.

The actions of SNCC, CORE, and SCLC forced the Kennedy Administration to briefly provide federal protection to temporarily abate mob violence. Local FBI offices were usually staffed by Southern whites (there were no Black FBI agents at that time) who refused to intervene to protect civil rights workers or local Blacks who were attempting to register to vote.

Participatory democracy

SNCC was unusual among civil rights groups in the way in which decisions were made. Instead of "top down" control, as was the case with most organizations at that time, decisions in SNCC were made by consensus, called participatory democracy. Ms. Ella Baker was extremely influential in establishing that model, as was Rev. James Lawson. Group meetings would be convened in which every participant could speak for as long as they wanted and the meeting would continue until everyone who was left was in agreement with the decision. Because activities were often very dangerous and could lead to prison or death, SNCC wanted all participants to support each activity.

By 1965, SNCC fielded the largest staff of any civil rights organization in the South. It had organized nonviolent direct action against segregated facilities, as well as voter-registration projects, in Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, Louisiana, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi; built two independent political parties and organized labor unions and agricultural cooperatives; and given the movement for women's liberation new energy. It inspired and trained the activists who began the "New Left." It helped expand the limits of political debate within Black America, and broadened the focus of the civil rights movement. Unlike mainstream civil rights groups, which merely sought integration of Blacks into the existing order, SNCC sought structural changes in American society itself.
— Julian Bond[3]

March on Washington

SNCC played a significant role in the 1963 John Lewis took the administration to task for how little it had done to protect Southern blacks and civil rights workers under attack in the Deep South. Although he was forced to tone down his speech under pressure from the representatives of other civil rights organizations on the march organization committee, his words still stung. The version of the speech leaked to the press went as follows:

We march today for jobs and freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds and thousands of our brothers are not here—for they have no money for their transportation, for they are receiving starvation wages...or no wages at all. In good conscience, we cannot support the administration's civil rights bill. This bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire hoses when engaging in peaceful demonstrations. This bill will not protect the citizens of [12]

However, under pressure from the representatives of other groups many changes were made to the speech as it was delivered that day.[13] According to James Forman, the most important of these was the change of "we cannot support" the Kennedy Civil Rights Bill to "we support with reservations". Forman wrote of the following explanation of this:

Somewhere along the line, the church and labor people had been told that this was a march to support the administration's Civil Rights Bill, which was passed in 1964, after Kennedy's death. Who did this and how it happened, I do not know. But people all over the country thought they were marching for jobs and freedom when in actuality the sellout leadership of the March on Washington was playing patsy with the Kennedy administration as part of the whole liberal-labor politics of Rustin, Wilkins, Randolph, Reuther, King, the Catholic and Protestant hierarchy. If people had known they had come to Washington to aid the Kennedy administration, they would not have come in the numbers they did.[14]

Forman's and SNCC's anger came in part from the failure of the federal government, FBI, and Justice Department to protect SNCC civil rights workers in the South at this time. Indeed, the federal government at that time was instrumental in indicting SNCC workers and other civil rights activists.[15]

Voting rights

In 1961 SNCC began expanding its activities from direct-action protests against segregation into other forms of organizing, most notably voter registration. Under the leadership of Bob Moses, SNCC's first voter-registration project was in McComb, Mississippi, an effort suppressed with arrests and savage white violence, resulting in the murder of local activist Herbert Lee.[16]

With funding from the Albany, and the Alabama Black Belt around Selma. All of these projects endured police harassment and arrests; KKK violence including shootings, bombings, and assassinations; and economic terrorism against those blacks who dared to try to register.[17]

In 1962 Bob Moses worked to forge a coalition of national and regional organizations, including the NAACP and the National Council of Churches, that would fund and promote SNCC's voter registration work in Mississippi. This coalition was known as the

  • SNCC 1960 - 1966: Six years of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Retrieved May 2, 2005.
  • Stokely Carmichael - Leader of SNCC's militant branch
  • Civil Rights Movement Veterans
  • SNCC Documents Online collection of original SNCC documents ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  • Americus Movement, Civil Rights Digital Library.
  • The Story of SNCC, One Person, One Vote Project

External links

  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Founding Statement.
  • TranscriptMemorandum: on the SNCC Mississippi Summer Project. Oxford, Ohio: General Materials (c. June 1964). Retrieved May 2, 2005.

SNCC publications and documents

  • An Oral History with Terri ShawTranscript: . SNCC member and Freedom Summer participant. The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved May 2, 2005.
  • Interviews with civil rights workers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Stanford University Project South oral history collection. Microfilming Corp. of America. 1975. ISBN 0-88455-990-4.
  • SNCC 50th Anniversary Conference 38 DVD collection documenting the formal addresses, panel discussions and programs that took place at the 50th anniversary conference at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • Carmichael, Stokely, and Michael Thelwell. Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). Scribner, 2005. 848 pages. ISBN 0-684-85004-4
  • Carson, Claybourne. In Struggle, SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1981. ISBN 0-674-44727-1
  • Forman, James. The Making of Black Revolutionaries, 1985 and 1997, Open Hand Publishing, Washington D.C. ISBN 0-295-97659-4 and ISBN 0-940880-10-5
  • Greenberg, Cheryl Lynn, ed. A Circle of Trust: Remembering SNCC. Rutgers University Press, 1998. 274 pages. ISBN 0-8135-2477-6
  • Halberstam, David. The Children, Ballantine Books, 1999. ISBN 0-449-00439-2
  • Hamer, Fannie Lou, The Speeches of Fannie Lou Hamer: To Tell it Like it is, University Press of Mississippi, 2011. ISBN 9781604738230.
  • Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement, University of Georgia Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8203-2419-1
  • Holsaert, Faith; Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. University of Illinois Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-252-03557-9.
  • Hogan, Wesley C. How Democracy travels: SNCC, Swarthmore students, and the growth of the student movement in the North, 1961-1964.
  • Hogan, Wesley C. Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC's Dream for a New America, University of North Carolina Press. 2007.
  • King, Mary. "Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement". 1987.
  • Lewis, John. Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1998.
  • Pardun, Robert. Prairie Radical: A Journey Through the Sixties. California: Shire Press. 2001. 376 pages. ISBN 0-918828-20-1
  • Salas, Mario Marcel. Masters Thesis: "Patterns of Persistence: Paternal Colonialist Structures and the Radical Opposition in the African American Community in San Antonio, Texas, 1937–2001", University of Texas at San Antonio, John Peace Library 6900 Loop 1604, San Antonio, Texas, 2002. Other SNCC material located in historical records at the Institute of Texan Cultures, University of Texas at San Antonio as part of the Mario Marcel Salas historical record.
  • Sellers, Cleveland, and Robert Terrell. The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. University Press of Mississippi; 1990 reprint. 289 pages. ISBN 0-87805-474-X
  • Zinn, Howard. SNCC: The New Abolitionists. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964. ISBN 0-89608-679-8
  • Ellin (Joseph and Nancy) Freedom Summer Collection. Collection Number: M323. Dates: 1963 - 1988. Volume: 1.7 ft³ (48 L) The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections. Retrieved May 2, 2005.

Further reading

  1. ^ "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama (SNCC)" Encyclopedia of Alabama.
  2. ^ "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee" ABC-CLIO History and Headlines
  3. ^ a b Bond, Julian (October 2000). "SNCC: What We Did". Monthly Review. p. "legacy". 
  4. ^ Wills, John (2011). European journal of American Culture.  
  5. ^ Hine, Darlene. Black Women in America. New York: Carlson Publishing, 1993. 
  6. ^ Moody, Anne (1970). Coming of Age in Mississippi. New York: Dell Publishing Company. 
  7. ^ a b Clayborne Carson, In Struggle, SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, Harvard University Press, 1981.
  8. ^ Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Founded ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  9. ^ Lewis, John (1998). Walking With the Wind. Simon & Schuster. 
  10. ^ Bruce J. Dierenfield, The Civil Rights Movement, Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2004.
  11. ^ Freedom Rides ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  12. ^ March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans. (N.B.: This text must be from a different source; at least three versions of the speech were written, and this is the earliest of those three, before "we cannot support" was changed to "we cannot wholeheartedly support" and then later "we support with reservations". See James Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries (1971; 1997), pp. 334–37.)
  13. ^ The version of the speech that was delivered by Lewis to the march can be found in Forman's autobiographical history of SNCC, The Making of Black Revolutionaries (1971), pp. 336–37.
  14. ^ Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries (1971; 1997), p. 335.
  15. ^ Forman (1971; 1997), p. 341.
  16. ^ Voter Registration & Direct Action in McComb MS ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  17. ^ History & Timeline ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  18. ^ "Council of Federated Organizations" King Encyclopedia, Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute
  19. ^ Freedom Ballot in MS ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  20. ^ Mississippi Summer Project ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  21. ^ Freedom Schools ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  22. ^ MFDP Challenge to the Democratic Convention ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  23. ^ Selma – Cracking the Wall of Fear ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  24. ^ Julian Bond, "Address to Freedom Summer 50th Commemoration", Jackson, MS. June 28, 2014.
  25. ^ "Samuel Younge Jr." Encyclopedia of Alabama.
  26. ^ Michael T. Kaufman, "Stokely Carmichael, Rights Leader Who Coined 'Black Power,' Dies at 57", The New York Times, November 16, 1998.
  27. ^ a b "Book Discussion on Bloody Lowndes", C-SPAN Book TV, March 27, 2009.
  28. ^ a b "Lowndes County Freedom Organization", Encyclopedia of Alabama.
  29. ^ Curtis Anderson, Up Against the Wall: Violence in the Making and Unmaking of the Black Panther Party (University of Arkansas Press, 2006), 14.
  30. ^ The Black Panther Party (pamphlet), Merrit Publishers, June 1966.
  31. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. [. "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)"] . Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  32. ^ Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (University of California Press, 2013), pp. 29, 41-42, 102-103, 128-130.
  33. ^ "Excerpt From SNCC Central Committee Meeting Regarding Forging a Relation With Saul Alinsky January, 1967"', January 20, 1967.
  34. ^ Stokely Carmichael and SNCC - Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
  35. ^ "Guide to the Microfilm Edition of FBI Files on Black Extremist Organizations, Part 1". Lexis Nexis.
  36. ^ a b "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee", King Encyclopedia, Martin Luther King Jr Research and Education Institute, Stanford University.
  37. ^ "Federal Bureau of Investigation", King Encyclopedia, Martin Luther King Jr Research and Education Institute, Stanford University.
  38. ^ Rakim Brooks and Charles E. Cobb Jr."Black Politics and the Establishment", Dissent: A Quarterly of Politics and Culture, February 15, 2012.
  39. ^ Clayborne Carson, In Struggle (1981), p. 251.
  40. ^ "SNCC Crippled by Defection of Carmichael", Washington Post news service (St. Petersburgh Times), September 26, 1968.
  41. ^ "Bob Brown" Civil Right Movement Veterans website
  42. ^ Terry Rockefeller, "Interview with Bobby Rush". Eyes on the Prize II interviews, Washington University Digital Gateway Texts.
  43. ^ C. Gerald Fraser, "SNCC Has Lost Much of Its Power to Black Panthers", New York Times news service (Eugene Register-Guard), October 9, 1968.
  44. ^ Kwame Ture and Michael Thelwell, Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael, Scribner, 2003, p. 297-298.
  45. ^   100.
  46. ^ a b Clayborne Carson and Heidi Hess, "Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee". From Darlene Clark Hine (ed.), Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, New York: Carlson Publishing, 1993.
  47. ^ Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, New York: Dell Publishing Company, 1970.
  48. ^ a b Sara Evans, Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left, 1978.
  49. ^ Curry, Constance; et al. (2002). Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement. University of Georgia Press. 
  50. ^ SNCC position paper: Women in the Movement, Anonymous.
  51. ^ Women & Men in the Freedom Movement ~ Civil Rights Movement Veterans.
  52. ^ Stokely Carmichael, Black Power, 1967.
  53. ^ Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), pp. 310-11.
  54. ^ SNCC 50th Anniversary Conference - Program


See also

A conference marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of SNCC was held at Shaw University on 15–18 April 2010.[54]

Fiftieth Anniversary Conference

While it is often argued that the Black Power period led to a downgrading of women generally in the organization, historian Barbara Ransby notes that there is no real evidence of this. Carmichael appointed several women to posts as project directors during his tenure as chairman; by the latter half of the 1960s, more women were in charge of SNCC projects than during the first half.[53] Former SNCC member Kathleen Cleaver played a key role in the central committee of the Black Panther Party as communications secretary (1968). Her position in this "male dominated" leadership was both effective and influential to Brown, Red and Yellow Power groups of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Thus, white women lost their influence and power in SNCC; Mary King and Casey Hayden left, to become active in pursuing equality for women. [52] When Stokely Carmichael was elected Chair of SNCC, he reoriented the path of the organization towards

. second-wave feminism The following year, King and Hayden produced another document entitled “Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo". The document was published in 1966 by Liberation, the magazine of the War Resisters League. "Sex and Caste" has since been credited as one of the generative documents that launched [51] Through organizations like SNCC, women of both races were becoming more politically active than at any time in American history since the

Young white women also became very involved with SNCC, particularly after the Freedom Summer of 1964. Many northern white women were inspired by the ideology of racial equality. The book Deep in Our Hearts details the experiences of nine white women in SNCC. Some white women, such as Mary King, Constance W. Curry, and Casey Hayden, and Latino women such as Mary Varela and Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez, were able to obtain status and leadership within SNCC.[48][49]

Anne Moody published her autobiography, Coming of Age in Mississippi, in 1970, detailing her decision to participate in SNCC and later CORE, and her experience as a woman in the movement. She described the widespread trend of black women to become involved with SNCC at their educational institutions. As young college students or teachers, these black women were often heavily involved in grassroots campaign by teaching Freedom Schools and promoting voter registration.[47]

"Women who were active in the lunch counter sit-in movement of 1960 led the transformation of SNCC from a coordinating office into a cadre of militant activists dedicated to expanding the civil rights movement throughout the South. In February 1961, Diane Nash and Ruby Doris Smith were among four SNCC members who joined the Rock Hill, South Carolina, desegregation protests, which featured the jail-no-bail tactic-demonstrators serving their jail sentences rather than accepting bail."[46] "In May 1961, Nash led a group of student activists to Alabama in order to sustain the Freedom Rides after the initial group of protesters organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) encountered mob violence in Birmingham. During May and June, Nash, Smith, and other student freedom riders traveled on buses from Montgomery to Jackson, Mississippi, where they were swiftly arrested and imprisoned. In August, when veterans of the sit-ins and the Freedom Rides met to discuss SNCC's future, Baker helped to avoid a damaging split by suggesting separate direct-action and voter-registration wings. Nash became the leader of the direct-action wing of SNCC."[46]

Many black women held prominent positions in the movement as a result of their participation in SNCC. Some of these women include Ruby Doris Smith Robinson, Donna Richards, Fay Bellamy, Gwen Patton, Cynthia Washington, Jean Wiley, Muriel Tillinghast, Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Pearl Avery, Diane Nash, Ella Baker, Victoria Gray, Unita Blackwell, Bettie Mae Fikes, Joyce Ladner, Dorie Ladner, Gloria Richardson, Bernice Reagon, Prathia Hall, Gwendolyn Delores Robinson/Zoharah Simmons, Judy Richardson, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, Ruby Sales, Endesha Ida Mae Holland, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Anne Moody.

SNCC activist Bernice Johnson Reagon described the Civil Rights Movement as the "'borning struggle' of the decade, in that it stimulated and informed those that followed it," including the modern feminist movement.[45] The influence of the Civil Rights movement inspired mass protests and awareness campaigns as the main methods to obtain sexual equality.

SNCC and feminism

By the time of its conclusion, many of the controversial ideas that once had defined SNCC’s radicalism had become widely accepted among African Americans.[36]

First, we felt if we go more than five years without the understanding that the organization would be disbanded, we run the risk of becoming institutionalized or being more concerned with trying to perpetuate the organization and in doing so, giving up the freedom to act and to do...The other thing is that by the end of that time you’d either be dead or crazy…” [44]

Charles McDew, SNCC's second chairman, said that the organization was not designed to last beyond its mission of winning civil rights for blacks, and that at the founding meetings most participants expected it to last no more than five years:

The organization largely disappeared in the early 1970s, although chapters in some communities, such as New Jewel Movement in the otherthrow of Eric Gairy in 1979, the leader of the island of Grenada. He also became the chairman of the Free Nelson Mandela Movement in San Antonio, Texas.

By then, SNCC was no longer an effective organization. Much analysis at the time blamed Carmichael's departure from the group for the decline, though others would dispute this. In 1968, SNCC lost numerous organizers, such as Kathleen Neal, Bob Brown,[41] and Bobby Rush,[42] to the Black Panther Party. Ella Baker said that "SNCC came North at a time when the North was in a ferment that led to various interpretations on what was needed to be done. With its own frustrations, it could not take the pace-setter role it took in the South..."[43]

By early 1967, SNCC was approaching bankruptcy as liberal funders refused to support its overt militancy. Carmichael voluntarily stepped down as chair in May 1967.[39] H. Rap Brown, later known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, replaced him as the head of SNCC. Brown renamed the group the Student National Coordinating Committee and supported violence, which he described as "as American as cherry pie". He resigned as chair of SNCC in 1968, after being indicted for inciting to riot in Cambridge, Maryland, in 1967. In 1968, Carmichael was expelled from the group completely by the new program secretary, Phil Hutchings, when Carmichael refused to resign from the Black Panther Party. Carmichael, along with Rap Brown and James Forman, had tried to foster an alliance between SNCC and the Panthers, but it proved to be a failure.[40]


Professor Charles E. Cobb, formerly SNCC field secretary in Mississippi, has asserted that SNCC's grassroots and autonomous community work was undercut and co-opted by Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty: "After we got the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965, a lot of groups that we had cultivated were absorbed into the Democratic Party...a lot more money came into the states we were working in. A lot of the people we were working with became a part of Head Start and various kinds of poverty programs. We were too young to really know how to respond effectively. How could we tell poor sharecroppers or maids making a few dollars a day to walk away from poverty program salaries or stipends?"[38]

SNCC became a target of the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in a concerted effort at all levels of government to crush black radicalism - both violent and nonviolent - through both overt and covert means.[36][37]

Expressing SNCC's evolving policy on nonviolence/violence, Carmichael first argued that blacks should be free to use violence in self-defense; later he advocated revolutionary violence to overthrow oppression. Carmichael rejected the civil-rights legislation as mere palliatives. The Department of Defense stated in 1967: "SNCC can no longer be considered a civil rights group. It has become a racist organization with black supremacy ideals and an expressed hatred for whites."[34] (Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference was classified as a "hate-type" group by the federal government during the same period).[35]

SNCC continued to maintain coalition with several white radical organizations, most notably UC Berkeley in October 1966, Carmichael challenged the white left to escalate their resistance to the military draft in a manner similar to the black movement. Some participants in ghetto rebellions of the era had already associated their actions with opposition to the Vietnam War, and SNCC had first disrupted an Atlanta draft board in August 1966. According to historians Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, SDS’s first Stop the Draft Week of October 1967 was “inspired by Black Power [and] emboldened by the ghetto rebellions.” SNCC appear to have originated the popular anti-draft slogan: "Hell no! We won't go!"[32] For a time in 1967, SNCC seriously considered an alliance with Saul Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation, and generally supported IAF's work in Rochester and Buffalo's black communities.[33]

Carmichael raised the banner of [7]

[31] After the

Stokely Carmichael as chair

While the LCFO candidates did not win their early campaigns, most historians and activists regard the group's mere survival under such hostile conditions to be a victory.[27] In 1970 LCFO reconciled with the local Democratic Party, and various candidates, including John Hulett, went on to be Lowndes County officials.[28]

The first SNCC project to promote the slogan “black power” was the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) an African-American electoral organization which registered over 2,500 black voters between 1965 and 1969.[26] This was a historic achievement given that [29][30]

Lowndes County Freedom Organization

Many within SNCC had grown skeptical about the tactics of nonviolence and integration. After the Democratic convention of 1964, the group began to split into two factions – one favoring a continuation of nonviolent, integration-oriented redress of grievances within the existing political system, and the other moving towards Black Power and revolutionary ideologies.

[25] SNCC was also deeply affected by the killing of

SNCC's experience with the [24]

Change in strategy and dissolution

The civil rights activists crossed the bridge on the third attempt, with the aid of a federal court order barring authorities from interfering with the march. It was part of a five-day march to Montgomery, Alabama, that helped dramatize the need for a Voting Rights Act. During this period, SNCC activists became more and more disenchanted with nonviolence, integration as a strategic goal, and cooperation with white liberals or the Federal government.

Those differences carried over into the voting rights struggle that centered on Bloody Sunday" on March 7, 1965.

That experience destroyed what little faith SNCC activists had in the federal government, even though Johnson had obtained a broad Civil Rights Act barring discrimination in public accommodations, employment and private education in 1964 and would go on to obtain an equally broad Voting Rights Act in 1965. It also estranged SNCC leaders from many of the mainstream leaders of the civil rights movement.

Johnson used all of his resources, mobilizing Walter Reuther, one of his key supporters within the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and his Vice-Presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, to pressure King and other mainstream civil rights leaders to bring the MFDP around, while directing Hoover to put the delegation under surveillance. The MFDP rejected both the compromise and the pressure to accept it, and walked out.[22]

When the MFDP started to organize a fight over credentials, Johnson originally would not budge. When Fannie Lou Hamer, the leader of the MFDP, was in the midst of testifying about the police beatings of her and others for attempting to exercise their right to vote, Johnson preempted television coverage of the credentials fight. Even so, her testimony created enough uproar that Johnson offered the MFDP a "compromise": they would receive two non-voting seats, while the delegation sent by the official Democratic Party would take its seats.

The goal of the Mississippi Summer Project was to organize the George Wallace received during the Democratic primaries in the North.

SNCC also established Freedom Schools to teach children to read and to educate them to stand up for their rights. As in the struggle to desegregate public accommodations led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Bevel in Birmingham, Alabama the year before, the bolder attitudes of the children helped shake their parents out of the fear that had paralyzed many of them.[21]

Mississippi Summer got national attention when three civil rights workers involved in the project, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were lynched after having been released from police custody. Their bodies were eventually found after a reluctant J. Edgar Hoover directed the FBI to search for them. In the process the FBI also found corpses of several other missing black Mississippians, whose disappearances had not attracted public attention outside the Delta.

[20] SNCC followed up on the Freedom Ballot with the

[19], due to a combination of state laws and constitutional provisions, economic reprisals and violence by white authorities and private citizens.Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution In the fall of 1963, SNCC conducted the Freedom Ballot, a parallel election in which black Mississippians came out to show their willingness to vote — a right they had been denied for decades, despite the provisions of the [18]

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