Student-Nonviolent-Coordinating-Committee-(SNCC)

Julian Bond (1940 - 2015) remains seated after having been expelled from the Georgia Legislature, 1966.

On April 17, 1960, Bond helped co-found and served as the communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Bond helped found the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a public-interest law firm based in Montgomery, Alabama. He served as its president from 1971 to1979.

In 1965, Bond was one of eleven African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act of 1965. On January 10, 1966, Georgia state representatives voted 184–12 not to seat him because he had publicly endorsed SNCC’s policy regarding opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. However, In 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled 9–0 in the case of Bond v. Floyd (385 U.S. 116) that the Georgia House of Representatives had denied Bond his freedom of speech and was required to seat him.

Photo credit: Julian Bond / University of Virginia

On this date, June 17, in 1966, Stokely Carmichael (who later was known as Kwame Ture), then chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), gave his famous Black Power speech.

Thank you very much. It’s a privilege and an honor to be in the white intellectual ghetto of the West. We wanted to do a couple of things before we started. The first is that, based on the fact that SNCC, through the articulation of its program by its chairman, has been able to win elections in Georgia, Alabama, Maryland, and by our appearance here will win an election in California, in 1968 I’m going to run for President of the United States. I just can’t make it, ‘cause I wasn’t born in the United States. That’s the only thing holding me back.

We wanted to say that this is a student conference, as it should be, held on a campus, and that we’re not ever to be caught up in the intellectual masturbation of the question of Black Power. That’s a function of people who are advertisers that call themselves reporters. Oh, for my members and friends of the press, my self-appointed white critics, I was reading Mr. Bernard Shaw two days ago, and I came across a very important quote which I think is most apropos for you. He says, “All criticism is a[n] autobiography.” Dig yourself. Okay.  [Hear audio from the Black Power speech and read full transcript.]

For further reading and research, see also:

Black Power : The Politics of Liberation by Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton.  [

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Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism

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 by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture).  [book link]
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Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)

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 by Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture).  [book link
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Stokely Carmichael - The FBI Files

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 by The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  [book links
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Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and served as vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Hamer was born in 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi. Two years later, her family moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi to work as sharecroppers and Hamer picked cotton with her family from the age of 6. Hamer was educated in a one-room schoolhouse on the plantation, until she had to drop out at the age of 12 to work full time. By the age of 13, she could pick 200-300 pounds of cotton daily. In 1944, the plantation owner discovered that Hamer was literate and gave her the responsibility of becoming the time and record keeper. A year later, she married Perry “Pap” Hamer and together they worked as sharecroppers in Ruleville, Mississippi for the next 18 years. The couple adopted children, as Hamer had been given a hysterectomy without her consent while having surgery to remove a tumour. The procedure was so common it was known as a “Mississippi appendectomy.” This incident was the first of many that would ignite a passion for civil rights in Hamer.

During the 1950’s, Hamer attended a few annual conferences of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) in the all-black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. The RCNL was led by Dr. T. R. M. Howard, a civil rights leader and wealthy black entrepreneur and the annual RCNL conferences featured entertainers such as Mahalia Jackson, speakers such as Thurgood Marshall and Rep. Charles Diggs of Michigan, and panels on voting rights and other civil rights issues. It wasn’t until 1962 that Hamer became truly involved in the fight for civil rights. She attended a voting rights meeting organised by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Hamer was one of the few who decided to register to vote, and she and 17 others went to the county courthouse in Indianola to register. The group encountered opposition from local, and state law enforcement along the way and all by Hamer and one man were allowed to fill out the application and literacy test. Both failed. On the drive home, their bus was stopped and the driver arrested. The passengers were held on the bus, and Hamer began to sing songs like “This Little Light of Mine” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” an act which became one of the defining features of her activism. After the passengers were able to pay the driver’s fine, the bus returned to Ruleville. W.D Marlow, the plantation owner Hamer worked for had heard of her application to vote, and demanded she withdraw her application. She refused, stating “I didn’t go down there to register for you. I went down to register for myself.” She was ordered off his land, and said that “"They kicked me off the plantation, they set me free. It’s the best thing that could happen. Now I can work for my people.“

Hamer was forced to relocate temporarily to Tallahatchie County in the wake of her attempt to register to vote. Her actions drew the attention of local organisers, and the SNCC field secretary Bob Moses marked her out as a potential leader. In 1962, Hamer attended a SNCC conference at Fisk University in Nashville and became a community organiser for the SNCC. The Hamer family’s possessions and car were taken from them by Marlow and they were forced to survive on Hamer’s $10 a week from SNCC. In 1963, Hamer was travelling home from Charleston, South Carolina with other activists who had attended a literacy workshop. When the group stopped in Winona, Mississippi, they sat at the bus station’s whites-only lunch counter in an act of protest. The group were swiftly arrested on false charges and jailed. Hamer and her fellow activists were beaten by the police, and it took more than a month for her to recover after her release and she suffered permanent damage to her eyes, legs, and kidneys as a result. Undeterred, Hamer continued to organise voter registration drives, including the “Freedom Ballot Campaign” in 1963, and the “Freedom Summer” initiative a year later. She also became involved in relief work, distributing donated food and clothes to the poorest Delta residents.

In 1964, Hamer was elected Vice-Chair of the newly founded Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which was created as an alternative to the Mississippi Democratic Party who held segregationist views. The MFDP drew attention to the plight of African Americans in Mississippi, and Hamer, singing her signature hymns brought a lot of media attention to their cause. She ran for Congress at the MFDP candidate that year, challenging veteran ongressman Jamie Whitten in the Democratic primary. Although unsuccessful, Hamer’s run set a precedent by challenging the established Mississippi congressional delegation, and set the stage for the MFDP to have a national presence. Hamer and the rest of the MFDP officers were invited to speak at the televised Convention’s Credentials Committee that year. Her tearful speech calling for the MFDP to be seated as Mississippi representatives drew on her experiences in attempting to register to vote. She stated that “All of this is on account we want to register [sic], to become first-class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings — in America?” President Lyndon B. Johnson, fearful of the effect that Hamer’s speech would have on the nation called an emergency press conference to divert attention from Hamer, who he had earlier referred to as “that illiterate woman”. Hamer’s speech ran unedited in a later broadcast. The MFDP were offered two non-voting seats, on the condition that Hamer was not to take one of them. They refused.

Hamer became an in demand public speaker, and continued to work on voting rights throughout the 1960’s. After the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, Hamer led lawsuits that led to the first elections in which large numbers of black residents of Sunflower County were registered and eligible to vote in 1967. She also worked on the grassroots-level Head Start programs, the Freedom Farm Cooperative in Sunflower County, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and organised plaintiffs for a school desegregation lawsuit. In 1971, she helped to establish the National Women’s Political Caucus. In her later life, Hamer was limited by her poor health brought on by a lifetime living in poverty, the beating she sustained in 1963 and a 1976 cancer diagnosis. She died in 1977 and hundreds attended her funeral, including most of the leaders of the civil rights movement like Ella Baker and Dorothy Height. Hamer is an inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, a recipient of the National Sojourner Truth Meritorious Service Award and the Paul Robeson Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Her contribution to civil rights is celebrated with the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden in Ruleville, Mississippi.

Sources here, here, here and here

Danny Lyon was the first photographer to be officially appointed by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. SNCC was very savvy in their use of photography. They used Lyon’s images in books and posters, disseminating a localized struggle to the nation as a whole. Here, Lyon photographed the brutal, dehumanizing arrest of Clifford Vaughs, another SNCC photographer.

Danny Lyon (b. 1942), Clifford Vaughs, another SNCC photographer, is arrested by the National Guard, Cambridge, Maryland, 1964. gelatin silver print. 8 × 10 in. (20.32 × 25.4 cm). Collection of the Corcoran/National Gallery of Art, CGA 1994.3.3 © Danny Lyon, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940. He played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement by leading nonviolent protests to help integrate public spaces in Atlanta. He was also a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Bond went on to serve the state legislature for 20 years.

He’s pictured here being interview by press in 1966.

“It must be offered that white people who desire change in this country should go where that problem (racism) is most manifest. The problem is not in the black community. The white people should go into white communities where the whites have created power for the express purpose of denying blacks human dignity and self-determination. Whites who come into the black community with ideas of changeseem to want to absolve the power structure of its responsibility for what it is doing, and saying that change can only come through black unity, which is the worst kind of paternalism. This is not to say that whites have not had an important role in the movement. In the case of Mississippi, their role was very key in that they helped give blacks the right to organize, but that role is now over, and it should be.”

Stokely Carmichael, “The Basis of Black Power,” 1966

As a student at Southern University in Louisiana, Hubert Gerold Brown, known as H. Rap Brown (b. 1943), joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became its national chairman. Brown is shown standing in front of New York’s SNCC headquarters. In 1968 he left the SNCC to join the Black Panther Party and became its justice minister. Imprisoned in Attica (1971–1976) for a shootout in a New York bar, he converted to Islam. He took the name Jamil Abdullah al-Amin and became a spiritual leader and community activist in Atlanta. He is currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of killing a policeman.  [source]

67 civil rights era activists to the Black Lives Matter: “y’all take it from here.”

A group of 67 former members of the civil rights organization penned a letter of support to their millennial counterparts, recognizing the ties that bind their kindred fights for racial equity and justice across generations.

“We in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were part of that long struggle in the 1960s,” the SNCC delegates wrote. “We were met with harassment and resistance that included murder and other forms of violence. The voices of white supremacy insisted that Black lives were not human lives and any claim to human rights was subversive and threatening to the country.”

Critics of today’s movement try to glorify the civil rights movement to levy a critique of the black-led millennial racial justice movement — including civil rights activist Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds, who derided today’s activists for their approach. But Americans did not share the same respect for the civil rights movement when it was unfolding before their eyes. For example, a 1964 survey by the American National Election Studies found that 57 percent of Americans said most of black people’s actions during the civil rights movement in the most recent year were violent. Sixty-three percent of Americans believed the civil rights movement was moving “too fast.” And a majority of Americans (58 percent) believed that black people’s actions for the movement hurt their own cause. Americans remain as skeptical of the movement for black lives today as they were of their predecessors.