Sncc Quotes

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nothing trite in SNCC’s founding statement: “Through nonviolence, courage displaces fear; love transforms hate. Acceptance dissipates prejudice, hope ends despair. Peace dominates war, faith reconciles doubt.
Bruce Watson (Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy)
I think of Charles Sherrod. He was a SNCC “field secretary” and one of those young people who went into the toughest towns in the deep South to set up Freedom Houses and help local folk organize to change their lives.
Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times)
As noted in 1964 by Robert P. “Bob” Moses, director of the Mississippi project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC): “It’s not contradictory for a farmer to say he’s nonviolent and also pledge to shoot a marauder’s head off.
Charles E. Cobb (This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible)
Paul Jacobs and Saul Landau observed, “The masses of poor Negroes remain an unorganized minority in swelling urban ghettos, and neither SNCC nor any other group has found a form of political organization that can convert the energy of the slums into political power.
Joshua Bloom (Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (The George Gund Foundation Imprint in African American Studies))
Black civil rights activists in the South were among the first to resist the draft. SNCC’s Bob Moses joined historian Staughton Lynd and veteran pacifist Dave Dellinger to march in Washington against the war, and Life Magazine had a dramatic photo of the three of them walking abreast, being splattered with red paint by angry super-patriots.
Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times)
There was a deeper problem, and the deeper problem was racism. And how do you picket an attitude? How do you demonstrate against an attitude? And so it was recognized within SNCC that black people lacked power to control their lives, and that having the vote was not going to give them the power they needed to control their lives. And so people started talking about power for black people.
Clara Bingham (Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul)
National coverage of Lewis’s falling-out with SNCC over Black Power was rooted in a white perspective. White Power had been acceptable since Jamestown. Now even the hint of Black Power was denounced as un-American. Citing the Times headline LEWIS QUITS S.N.C.C.; SHUNS BLACK POWER, Good observed, “The headline’s partial truths fitted the rationale of a white society that had tolerated racial injustice for a century, yet denounced ‘black power’ in a day. At the same time, some in the society were paying sentimental homage to the good old days when Negroes faced fire hoses and police dogs with beatific smiles.
Jon Meacham (His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope)
In the year of your lord 1963, August 27, I was in a hotel room with John Lewis and three other members of SNCC and I was livid. I had provided several lines to John’s speech and they were being removed. I remember the lines. The first was, If the dogs of the South continue unchained, then we will bite back, we will move on those tender parts that bleed so readily, that bleed so profusely. Okay, I said, understanding that there was a lot of blood in the statement—rather, threat—and so I added the word nonviolently. This was not satisfactory. The next line was, The Kennedy administration does not even talk a good game, failing to support voters’ rights while paying mere lip service to civil rights, as if there is a difference. We say fuck the administration that still walks hand in hand with Jim Crow. Well, I could see that the word fuck was a bit strong and so I suggested screw and then 45 screw nonviolently. I was never much of a player in the politics of the day after that evening.
Percival Everett (Percival Everett by Virgil Russell)
When one person got involved, it took everybody else along. I went to jail first, but my entire family soon joined the Movement. One time, Faith & I ended up at home w all the babies from 2 households, because the mamas & the other older sisters were in jail. In the morning we had to plait everybody's hair & feed them--it was a mess! We had all the babies except Peaches Gaines, who was in jail with her mother & my mother. Peaches was jailed because she had not obeyed an officer. She was about 2. Her bond was set at, I believe, $125.00. --Joann Christian Mants
Faith S. Holsaert (Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC)
It is, in short, the growing conviction that the Negroes cannot win—a conviction with much grounding in experience—which accounts for the new popularity of black power. So far as the ghetto Negro is concerned, this conviction expresses itself in hostility, first toward the people closest to him who have held out the most promise and failed to deliver (Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins, etc.), then toward those who have proclaimed themselves his friends (the liberals and the labor movement), and finally toward the only oppressors he can see (the local storekeeper and the policeman on the corner). On the leadership level, the conviction that the Negroes cannot win takes other forms, principally the adoption of what I have called a "no-win" policy. Why bother with programs when their enactment results only in sham? Why concern ourselves with the image of the movement when nothing significant has been gained for all the sacrifices made by SNCC and CORE? Why compromise with reluctant white allies when nothing of consequence can be achieved anyway? Why indeed have anything to do with whites at all? On this last point, it is extremely important for white liberals to understand what, one gathers from their references to "racism in reverse," the President and the Vice-President of the United States do not: that there is all the difference in the world between saying, "If you don't want me, I don't want you" (which is what some proponents of black power have in effect been saying), and the statement, "Whatever you do, I don't want you" (which is what racism declares). It is, in other words, both absurd and immoral to equate the despairing response of the victim with the contemptuous assertion of the oppressor. It would, moreover, be tragic if white liberals allowed verbal hostility on the part of Negroes to drive them out of the movement or to curtail their support for civil rights. The issue was injustice before black power became popular, and the issue is still injustice.
Bayard Rustin (Down the Line: The Collected Writings of Bayard Rustin)
Perhaps the most prominent young radical in the early 1960s was Tom Hayden, a University of Michigan student who had worked with SNCC in 1961. Raised a Catholic, Hayden was a serious thinker with a commitment to elevating the spirit and improving human relationships in the United States. In 1962 he emerged as chief author of a major position paper of the SDS, the Port Huron Statement.
James T. Patterson (Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974 (Oxford History of the United States Book 10))
The SNCC base of operation, at the corner of Jackson and High Streets, was in the heart of the black community in Montgomery. I don't remember too much else about the city, but I'll always remember that corner. There were hundreds of young people behind police barricades of some sort. Lots of college students, some white, from up North, and some local black folks and college students. The whole Selma-to-Montgomery push, and this ancillary thrust by SNCC in Montgomery, was because on the other side of that barricade there were white folks who had shown they would stop at nothing, including violence, to protect white supremacy.
Junius Williams (Unfinished Agenda: Urban Politics in the Era of Black Power)
Knocking on doors wasn't working. We had to try something else. Remember the kids whose natural curiosity brought them into our little office on the corner? We set up a Freedom School that was fashioned after the SNCC Freedom Schools in Mississippi and other places.
Junius Williams (Unfinished Agenda: Urban Politics in the Era of Black Power)
We were still confined to that corner. More and more people joined us, some black and some white. On the second day, we awoke to learn that somebody must have told Martin Luther King that things were getting out of hand in Montgomery, because rumor had it that he left the line of march from Selma to join us in the hood. Despite myself, I was thrilled at the prospect of marching with King. I knew this was SNCC turf, and I was now with SNCC, but how can you not be thrilled with the prospect of being so close to the big man himself?
Junius Williams (Unfinished Agenda: Urban Politics in the Era of Black Power)
Meanwhile, angered by white violence in the South and inspired by the gigantic June 23 march in Detroit, grassroots people on the streets all over the country had begun talking about marching on Washington. “It scared the white power structure in Washington, D.C. to death,” as Malcolm put it in his “Message to the Grassroots” and in his Autobiography.6 So the White House called in the Big Six national Negro leaders and arranged for them to be given the money to control the march. The result was what Malcolm called the “Farce on Washington” on August 28, 1963. John Lewis, then chairman of SNCC and fresh from the battlefields of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama where hundreds of blacks and their white student allies were being beaten and murdered simply for trying to register blacks to vote, was forced to delete references to the revolution and power from his speech and, specifically, to take out the sentence, “We will not wait for the President, the Justice Department nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands and create a source of power, outside of any national structure, that could and would assure us a victory.” Marchers were instructed to carry only official signs and to sing only one song, “We Shall Overcome.” As a result, many rank-and-file SNCC militants refused to participate.7 Meanwhile, conscious of the tensions that were developing around preparations for the march on Washington and in order to provide a national rallying point for the independent black movement, Conrad Lynn and William Worthy, veterans in the struggle and old friends of ours, issued a call on the day of the march for an all-black Freedom Now Party. Lynn, a militant civil rights and civil liberties lawyer, had participated in the first Freedom Ride from Richmond, Virginia, to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1947 and was one of Robert Williams’s attorneys.8 Worthy, a Baltimore Afro-American reporter and a 1936–37 Nieman Fellow, had distinguished himself by his courageous actions in defense of freedom of the press, including spending forty-one days in the Peoples Republic of China in 1957 in defiance of the U.S. travel ban (for which his passport was lifted) and traveling to Cuba without a passport following the Bay of Pigs invasion in order to help produce a documentary. The prospect of a black independent party terrified the Democratic Party. Following the call for the Freedom Now Party, Kennedy twice told the press that a political division between whites and blacks would be “fatal.
Grace Lee Boggs (Living for Change: An Autobiography)
It didn’t help when Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael made his notorious comment to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: “The position of women in SNCC is prone.
Ariel Levy (Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture)
By the time the New Left and the Civil Rights Movement came on the scene, Zinn had left the party’s ranks, but he was toying with the Maoist Progressive Labor Party and the Trotskyist Socialist Workers party and “gave his support to young black militants” of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers.29 Actually, Zinn radicalized the students, turned them into militants, and helped found and guide the radical SNCC.
Mary Grabar (Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America)
Stokely Carmichael stepped off an Air France Boeing 707 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City to find United States marshals from New York’s Eastern District waiting to confiscate his passport. Carmichael had been on a blistering worldwide tour since his decision to step down in May of that year as the leader of SNCC. While in Paris, he boldly declared to four thousand people at the Palais de la Mutualité, “Our aim is to disrupt the United States of America, and we think our blood is not too high a price to pay. We don’t want peace in Vietnam! We want the Vietnamese to defeat the United States of America!” In
Eddie S. Glaude Jr. (Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own)
So let us be bold in our efforts and even bolder in our vision. Let us tell the story of an America becoming - of a nation breaking free from the limits of its own arrested development and transforming into the place we were told about in school but which never really existed as such. Just because that place has been a cruel and taunting mirage for so long does not mean we cannot mold it into a reality. As the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) - one of the premier civil rights groups of our nation's history - used to say, Come, let us build a new world together.
Tim Wise
Activist, poet, and community leader Aneb Gloria House captured that legacy in her poem written on the occasion of Grace’s 100th birthday. House met Jimmy and Grace as a young radical when she moved to Detroit in the late 1960s after organizing in Alabama as a SNCC field secretary. Drawing on these decades of comradeship with the Boggses, House’s poetic tribute to Grace expresses a sentiment that could just as easily be about Grace and Jimmy’s partnership: You gave energy, gesture, laughter, you gave flesh and bone to the idea of revolution. In your steadfastness we witnessed that being a revolutionary requires patience and faith to walk the evolutionary path day by day. 7 To be sure, Grace and Jimmy gave these and more. They gave much to each other, and together they gave much to the movements they joined, struggles they waged, organizations they built, and the many comrades with which they worked, organized, studied, and struggled. SOMETIME IN HER eighth decade, Grace began closing her correspondence with the words “in love and struggle.” It was a particularly fitting expression, as so much of her life—her thinking and writing, her activism, her personal and political relationships—revolved around or in some way grew from her commitment to social and political struggles. Moreover, she embraced struggle not just in opposing a system or external enemy but also as a difficult but necessary internal process—in a movement, an organization, and even oneself—required to resolve contradictions. She shared that embrace of struggle with Jimmy. Indeed, their partnership shaped and deepened this embrace of struggle for each of them. Her phrase, then, is just as fitting for a book that tells their story. These two things, love and struggle, were central to their lives together. Moreover, combining the two words not only indicates the importance that Jimmy and Grace assigned to each but also signals their view that struggle, like love, is an inevitable and enduring part of life. In their jointly authored book Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, Jimmy and Grace concluded that there is no “final struggle” to be waged or “promised land” to be reached, as “humankind will always be engaged in struggle, because struggle is in fact the highest expression of human creativity.
Stephen Ward (In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs (Justice, Power, and Politics))
In 1958, Representative David H. Glass introduced a bill in the Mississippi Legislature entitled “An Act to Discourage Immorality of Unmarried Females by Providing for Sterilization of the Unwed Mother under Conditions of this Act,” which provided for the chancery court to order the sterilization of single mothers, most of whom were Black. The bill passed the House by a vote of 72 to 37, but was ddropped in the Senate after national protest, which included a pamplet entitled Genocide in Mississippi circulated by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Dorothy Roberts (Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty)
I am one of seven women—three of us white—in the office of CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality); at a joint meeting with SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commit- tee). More than twenty men, black and white, are present, run- ning the meeting. Three civil-rights workers—one black man and two white men—have disappeared in Mississippi, and the groups have met over this crisis. (The lynched bodies of the three men—James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—are later found, tortured to death.) Meanwhile, the FBI, local police, and the National Guard have been dredging lakes and rivers in search of the bodies. During the search, the mutilated parts of an estimated seventeen different human bodies are found. All of us in the New York office are in a state of shock. As word filters in about the. difficulty of identifying mutilated bodies long decomposed, we also learn that all but one of the unidentified bodies are female. A male CORE leader mutters, in a state of fury, ““There’s been a whole goddamned lynching we never even knew about. There’s been some brother disappeared who never even got reported.” My brain goes spinning. Have I heard correctly? Did he mean what I think he meant? If so, is it my racism showing itself in that I am appalled? Finally, I hazard a tentative question. Why one lynching? What about the sixteen unidentified female bodies? What about - Absolute silence. The men in the room, black and white, stare at me. The women in the room, black and white, stare at the floor. Then the answer comes, in a tone of impatience, as if I were politically retarded. "Those were obviously sex murders. Those weren't political." I fall silent.
Robin Morgan (The Demon Lover)
learned later that this was the SNCC way. Nobody ever suggested that such and such a person be part of any particular direct action. Each person made up his mind each time. There were no orders.
Bob Zellner (Wrong Side of Murder Creek, The: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement)
Carmichael also criticized the student peace movement and argued that if peace activists wanted to be relevant to most people, they needed to start organizing to resist the draft: The peace movement has been a failure because it hasn’t gotten off the college campuses where everybody has a 2S [draft deferment] and is not afraid of being drafted anyway. The problem is how you can move out of that into the white ghettos of this country and articulate a position for those white youth who do not want to go. . . . [SNCC is] the most militant organization for peace or civil rights or human rights against the war in Vietnam in this country today. There isn’t one organization that has begun to meet our stand on the war in Vietnam. We not only say we are against the war in Vietnam; we are against the draft. . . . There is a higher law than the law of a racist named [Secretary of Defense] McNamara; there is a higher law than the law of a fool named [Secretary of State] Rusk; there is a higher law than the law of a buffoon named Johnson. It’s the law of each of us. We will not allow them to make us hired killers. We will not kill anybody that they say kill. And if we decide to kill, we are going to decide who to kill.89
Joshua Bloom (Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (The George Gund Foundation Imprint in African American Studies))
Fannie Lou Hamer—some of you may have studied the history of the US civil rights movement, the US freedom movement, you may have run across the name of Fannie Lou Hamer—she was a sharecropper and a domestic worker. She was a timekeeper on a cotton plantation in the 1960s. And she emerged as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and as a leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She said, “All my life, I have been sick and tired. Now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Angela Y. Davis (Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement)
The FBI nicknamed the program COINTELPRO, as a shorthand for "counterintelligence program." COINTELPRO originated in the 1950s, to prevent socialist movements from developing in the United States, and the program rose to new heights in the Black Power era. Even prior to Stokely Carmichael's first calls for Black Power in 1966, the FBI was organizing to undermine civil rights movement efforts. The Black organizations they labeled as "militant' included not only Stokely's SNCC but also the Rev. Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group that never wavered in its dedication to nonviolent civil disobedience. Between 1963 and 1971, the FBI ran nearly three hundred separate COINTELPRO operations against Black nationalist groups, the majority of which targeted the Black Panther Party. The program's major goals were to: 1. Prevent the coalition of militant Black nationalist groups, as there would be strength in unity. 2. Prevent the rise of a "messiah" who could unify and electrify the movement, such as the Rev. Dr. King or Malcolm X. 3. Prevent violence, ideally by neutralizing movement leaders before they could become violent. 4. Prevent Black nationalist leaders from gaining respectability, ideally by discrediting them in the eyes of white people, Black people, and radicals of all races. 5. Prevent young people from joining the groups and increasing their membership base.
Kekla Magoon (Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People)
The most important of these activists was Jimmy Garrett, a member of both the Black Panthers and SNCC. Garrett led discussion groups at which, as he later explained, "we would talk about ourselves seeking identity, and stuff like that. A lot of folks didn't even know they were black. A lot of people thought they were Americans".
Bruce Bawer (The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind)