What did the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) contribute to the Civil Rights Movement? Dedicated young people from across the country put their education – indeed, their very lives – on hold in order, not only to demonstrate, but to actively participate in the Civil Rights Movement. They started the sit-ins to protest segregated facilities in public accommodations. Later, They were at the forefront of the voter registration drives and Freedom Rides across the South.
Robert F. Williams eluded an F.B.I. manhunt on false kidnapping charges and escaped a racist dragnet and fled eventually to Cuba where Fidel Castro offered him political asylum. On November 17, 1961, through SNCC’s efforts a coalition of African-American community groups and civil rights organizations formed after the Albany, Georgia bus terminal demonstrations. A coalition came together which consisted of the NAACP, the Ministerial Alliance, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Negro Voters League and other groups. William G. Anderson, a Black osteopath, was elected president, and Slater King, a African-American realtor, became vice-president.
Queen Mother Audley Moore who had organized the Reparations Committee of the Descendants of the United States went to the White House in 1962 to meet with John F. Kennedy. The Reparations Committee filed a brief requesting reparations from the United States Government in 1962. On December 20, 1962, it was filed by Attorney Robert L. Brock in the fifth district court in California.198 In December1961, over 700 people were arrested in a demonstration held in Albany, Georgia to protest the segregation of the cities facilities. Demonstrations continued into the spring and summer of 1962. In 1962, King and three other African-American leaders were convicted of failing to get a permit. Police Chief Prichett arranged for a anonymous donor to bail Dr. King out of jail, taking the steam out of a publicized confrontation. Mass protest continued though, throughout then summer and at the height of the protest, 1,500 were arrested. The Albany movement was considered a set back for Dr. King, but a mass breakthrough for SNCC. In the spring of 1962, resulting from student demonstrations on Central State University’s campus, the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) formed. SNCC made other breakthroughs in leading mass voter registration efforts in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1963. Led by SNCC organizers Sam Black and Willie Peacock, who had been recruited by Bob Moses; suffered beatings, jailings, and shootings in their efforts to register African-Americans.
In 1963 voter registration mass demonstrations led by SNCC activists, Sam Black, Willie Peacock, Jessie Harris, McArthur Cotton and Jessie Morris in Greenwood, MS spark a mass movement in Mississippi. Gloria Richardson and SNCC led a mass movement in Cambridge, Maryland in which the National Guard were called in to quell demonstrators.
The Battle to Desegregate Birmingham Reverend King was invited to come to Birmingham, Alabama by Reverend Fred Shuttleworth and other African-American community leaders to attempt to desegregate Birmingham. They emphasized that he would have a stubborn adversary; Sheriff Bull Conner who was committed to crushing civil rights protests.
Dr. King arrived in Birmingham. Bull Conner obtained a court hearing banning demonstrations until a full court hearing could be held. King protests anyway. Connor then set about arresting the demonstrators. At first, the protests were peaceful, and relatively few African-Americans were jailed.
Dr. King stepped into the streets, joined the demonstrators and was arrested on Good Friday, for violating a court injunction against protest marchers. It was while he was confined over Easter weekend that Dr. King wrote his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
King posted bail, but he did not leave Birmingham. The demonstrators continued and Dr. King continued to march.
SCLC organized the Children’s Crusadecoordinated by James Bevel, which recruited 16,000 elementary and high school students aged 6 to 16 into the movement. Thousands of school-age children poured out of the public schools and into the streets. Over 900 children went to jail on May 2nd alone. Helmeted police swept marchers off their feet by turning high pressure fire hoses on them. Police K-9 dogs tore at marchers arms, legs and clothes. As protesters lay helpless on the ground, police beat them with clubs and dragged them into waiting police wagons.
King’s brother (A.D. King) home and hotel room were both bombed. King still pleaded with the masses of African-Americans to remain non-violent. The African-American masses responded by throwing rocks and bottles at police during the night. During this crisis, Kennedy sent federal troops around Birmingham. The city remained calm as civil rights activists agreed to halt demonstrations in exchange for an agreement that businesses would desegregate and hire African-Americans.
President Kennedy addressed the nation about the tense racial situation and his proposed Civil Rights bill.
Medgar Evers, Mississippi state chairman of the NAACP, was shot in the head from behind and assassinated within 24 hours of Kennedy’s television appearance.
The emphasis of direct action mass demonstration in the North was on increased job opportunities and an end to de facto segregation in housing and education. In New York and Philadelphia demonstrators sought to block tax-supported construction on which African-Americans received little or no employment. In Philadelphia, PA, RAM working with the NAACP organized mass demonstrations against union discrimination in the building trades, centered in North Philadelphia’s African-American community. In a week’s time, over 30,000 people participated in the demonstrations. This was considered the first mass breakthrough in the North, which led to others pattering their demonstrations after the Philadelphia demonstrations.
In New York, CORE began demonstrating at Downstate Medical Center with sit-ins at a construction site. In Cambridge, MD, mass demonstrations led by Gloria Richardson confronted the National Guard with sit-ins, lay-ins, and block -ins. Mass demonstrations were led by student UHURU group in Detroit, Michigan as thousands protested the killing of an African -American prostitute, Cynthia Scott; marching on a local police station, being surrounded by police with machine guns. At the national NAACP convention in Chicago, thousands booed Mayor Richard Daley and chased Reverend Jackson, president of the National Baptist convention off the stage, chanting: Uncle Toms Must Go! In Detroit, Martin Luther King with the UAW leadership (Walter Reother), led a mass freedom march of 100,000 people.
In Los Angeles and San Francisco crowds of more than 20,000 held rallies to protest the slaying of Medgar Evers and of William Moore, a Baltimore postal employee who was shot in an ambush while making a one man freedom march to Mississippi.199 August 1963:
These mass mobilizations led to rumors of a march on Washington to shut down D.C. The March on Washington which was held August 27, 1963 where 250,000 demonstrators participated originally started as a mass movement. President Kennedy and members of Congress became alarmed so he (Kennedy) called a meeting of the Big Four, Martin Luther King -SCLC, Roy Wilkins -NAACP, Whitney Young - Urban League, and John Lewis-SNCC. Kennedy asked the Big Four to call the march off. They said they hadn’t called the march on. Kennedy decided to support the march and secured funding for the march through the Field Foundation. (Malcolm X, Message to the Grassroots). By the time of the march August 27, 1963, the march had official signs, marshals, was non-violent, orderly and passive. In 1963, the March on Washington was the largest civil rights demonstration in United States history. Behind the scenes there was political division among the leaders of the march over John Lewis’ (SNCC) speech. Though he changed the contents of the speech he gave, the original speech was released to the press.
Less than a month after the March on Washington, four African-American girls died in the KKK bombing of an African-American Birmingham church. On September 15, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama dynamite exploded in the Sixteenth Baptist Church,, where children were attending Bible class. Four young girls were killed – Denise McNair, age 11 and Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins, all age 14. On that same Sunday, Birmingham police killed an African American youth in the street, and another young African American man riding a bicyle in that city was attacked and murdered by a group of whites.200 The bombing of the Birmingham Four outraged and shocked the world. As far away as Venezuela, FALN (the Armed Forces of National Liberation of Venezuela) bombed a Rockefeller owned oil refinery in Venezuela and sent a telegram to announce that the bombing was in retaliation of the killing of the Birmingham Four.
Civil Rights militants who were known as grassroots leaders, attended the Grassroots Conference held in Detroit, Michigan held by Milton and Richard Henry of G.O.A.L.)Group of Advanced Leadership) and Grace Lee Boggs of the Michigan Freedom Now Party. Malcolm X was the featured guest speaker, Malcolm prodded by the revolutionary harassments of Don Freeman representing the Black Liberation Front (BLF) of the U.S.A., gave his final major speech as national spokesman of the Nation of Islam ( N.O.I).He gave his famous Message to the Grassroots speech.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in an open caravan on November 22, 1963. Kennedy’s death sadden most African-Americans because they felt they had lost a friend. Elijah Muhammad issued a directive to all his ministers not to make any statements about the President’s assassination. After giving a speech in New York, Malcolm X was approached by the press concerning his impressions about the Kennedy assassination. Though he was misquoted, newspapers across the nation said Malcolm said Kennedy’s assassination was a matter of Chickens coming home to roost. Elijah Muhammad, who was secretly wary concerning Malcolm because of his knowledge of Elijah’s extra marital affairs, silenced Malcolm for 90 days.
October of 1963, the Grassroots Conference was held in Detroit, Michigan.
December of 1964, Isiah Brownson of Brooklyn CORE announced Brooklyn CORE would engage in a “stall-In” to protest discriminatory hiring at the World’s Fair.
On February 25, 1964, Cassius Marcellus Clay defeated Sonny Liston for the heavy weight championship. A battered Liston couldn’t answer the bell for the seventh round. Clay announced is name was Muhammad Ali and he was a member of the Nation of Islam.
The Freedom Now Party (FNP) grew into a mass party in Michigan. It was an African-American third party which ran a statewide slate. Reverend Albert Cleague was a candidate for Governor on the FNP ticket. Due to internal strife it became defunct by 1965. Most of its candidates joined the Democratic party. As 1963 came to a close, expectations were high. In 1963 alone, some 15,000 people had been imprisoned for participating in demonstrations and over 1,000 civil rights protests occurred in the South in more than 100 cities. 201 During the Freedom Summer which SNCC had planned to challenge Mississippi racists politically, three SNCC workers, Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman were beaten, shot and killed. Robert (Bob) Moses, SNCC coordinator helped Fannie Lou Hamer form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) a state-wide multi-racial party to challenge the Mississippi (racists) regulars at the Democratic National Party Convention in Atlantic City.
Who was Ms. Fannie Lou Hamer and what was the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP)? She was the youngest child of a Mississippi sharecropping family. She quit school in the sixth grade. However, she was determined to register and vote. She became a dedicated leader and powerful speaker on behalf of the rights of African Americans. She was a founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) which sought to integrate the Mississippi delegation to the 1964 Democratic Convention. She led the MFDP delegation to the convention and demanded that her delegation be seated in lieu of the all white delegation. Her demands were ignored but her address appear on television to question America’s commitment to “justice for all”. The 1964 Mississippi delegation was an integrated body.
In March 1964, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and began to advocate African-Americans using their voting power as a third political force and using armed self defense. Malcolm X formed an orthodox sunni Muslim Mosque, Inc. And later built the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). He developed a united front with Laverence Landry of Chicago, Reverend Milton Galamion of Brooklyn, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of Harlem, and Dick Gregory of Chicago, and Gloria Richardson of Cambridge, Maryland to form ACT. Malcolm X also supported the MFDP in Mississippi, Dr. King and SNCC.
Revolutionary Inter-Nationalism and the African-American Student The World of Realty and the World of the African American Student The world of the African-American student has changed tremendously since World War II. Prior to that time only a few Afro-Americans ever got a chance to go to college ever got a chance to go to college. African American college youth before World War II were from the established black middle class and established black middle class and very seldom associated themselves with the black working class. After the war and during the early fifties, more and more black working-class families were able to send their children off to college. Contradictions began to polarize among black students when this happened. The crystallization of these contradiction led to the development of the sit-ins, freedom rides, etc. black working-class families with bourgeois aspirations attempted to force their offspring into a society that had no place for them.
The myth of “a college education and having made it” was finally beginning to crumble. For a generation the African American had figured that by obtaining a college education they would be integrated into the mainstream of American life. But what has happened is that the African American has produced a whole generation (war babies) that has made it to the top of capitalist society only to awaken to the hard fact of reality that there is no “pie in the sky.” Now, after all these years, the African American student is faced with the fact that he or she has to obtain a master’s or doctor’s degree before being able to survive in this society. With the rise of automation the African American student is faced with a new dilemma. The job market is shrinking, qualifications are getting higher and competition sharper. The African American student must face many contradictions when he/she leaves school and finds out that reality is subjective, since he/she is taught in the classroom that the world is objective. He/she is taught that the white world will accept him/her if he/she is qualified regardless of color, but he/she leaves school only to find a hostile, savage, white world. In many cases this has led to revolt among black youth. Most African American students, not being able to cope with the sharp contradictions openly, have created a little protest world of their own. This world is called the “hip society.”
The hip society is a result of conditioning and of the last hope that the American dream is true. The hip society transcends all class barriers among blacks and has its own social values and norms. The hip society is developed from the frustration of not being able to do anything about one’s condition and serves as a release from daily pressures. The hip society is built around the concept of manhood and womanhood, reflecting a lack of security and identity, and alienation. The man who can make the most women, dress the best and maintain his “cool” is considered a hero among his peers. The woman who gets the most “noses open” climbs the ladder with prestige men and can jilt a cat and not mean nothing to her; is supposed to be into something. The woman play, but usually they are trying to “hook”, most of them go to college to find a husband. Expressions such as “into something, all that’s good, taking care of business,” express the sentiments of the hip society. Adherents of business, “express the sentiments of the hip society. Adherents of the hip society release themselves by being “hard,” digging jams (listening to jazz records), “getting off” (releasing frustration through dancing to rock ‘n roll), smoking pot, tasting (heavy drinking), “doing the thing or taking care of business” (loose sex morals, sometimes sex orgies). The hip society is a hedonistic society… It is build on extreme pleasure seeking, in order to forget about the reality of the hard contradictions the African American student must face.
We must see that the Negro college is truly a “freak factory.” Built upon an escape from reality becomes a “professional” house that breeds prostitutes, perverts, and “freaks” (black people who think they are white). The world of the African American student is built around a complete escape from reality and tries to strengthen the concept of being able to make it in this society. It reinforces capitalism, takes an extreme patriotism and drowns itself in the internal strife for prestige. The African American student is geared to becoming more an all-American boy or girl than the white student. The African American student has to be extra good, “extra white,” neat, nice and respectable. In order to “make it.” Therefore, conformity to the social norms of the hip society becomes a protective measure. It warms the African American student that if he/she steps out of his/her armor he/she won’t be able to survive in the outside world. This is one of the reasons why stress is placed on begging hard, tough, emotionless-because of the unconscious realization of the rough road ahead.
Contradictions of the African-American Student The African American student must face many contradictions. If his/her background is of the working class, then he/she faces the contradiction of becoming something that his/her family has oriented him/hr to both envy and hate. The concept of the black bourgeoisie not being able to “let their hair down,” be down to the nitty gritty, constantly alienates and antagonizes him/her. He/she also finds that in order to be successful in his field and be with people of his/her position, he/she must take on ways that they had previously considered “phony.” Another contradiction of African American students lies in failure to reach their aspirations. They sometimes realize that, because they are African American society has little or no place for them.
The constant living a life, completing dream level (college) education and still having to struggle for human existence is the sharpest contradiction for the African American student. The more black students learn about the outside world the more they realize that there is little chance for them to make their goal; thus they settle for some lesser choice. This contradiction hits the African American students square in the face whether they want to admit it or not.
The contradiction for the black students are beginning to polarize. This polarization has led to the sit-ins, freedom rides, mass demonstrations, black nationalist youth organizations and finally the riots in the summer of 1964. What is developing for our enslaved black nation is a generation with a completely new outlook. Out of this generation is developing the revolutionary intelligentsia capable of leading Africa America to the liberation. This has resulted from the fact that a social revolution cannot develop until all means of legal protest have been exhausted and the image of bourgeois democracy is destroyed. This is when a revolutionary intelligentsia is produced. With the rise of the ultra-right, Goldwater-Johnson and company, we see more clearly that for “the man” bourgeois democracy means and has always meant “enslavement.”
What has happened to the “war baby” generation is that the contradictions in this system are beginning to crystallize within them. The “war baby” generation was the generation that was suppose to have “arrived” to get the “pie in the sky.” This generation is slowly but surely waking up and seeing that the pie in the sky was a trick bag. They also see tht it doesn’t matter what they do, how qualified they are, they will never “arrive.” It was not until black America could develop a generation capable of being “on top” in the capitalist system, that the contradictions of the system could totally crystallize and a revolutionary intelligentsic develop. Hence the words of Dr. DuBois ring true: “A system that enslaves you cannot free you”.
The High School and Junior High School African American Student Overt social protest for the African American student usually begins in the junior high school. By the time a African American youth reaches the age of 14, they begin to feel the contradictions of their relationship to this society. They are led to believe in school that they are white, “can make it if they tries,” and after school he becomes black again and enters into the hip world. The feeling of being run smack into a brick wall” by the educational system is being felt by junior high and high school students. In the South more and more junior high and high school students are leading the movement, whereas in 1960 it was the black college youth who were the vanguard of the movement. We see in the North African American high and junior high school youth touched off the riots in Harlem and played a major role in the riots in other cities. If African American college youth are feeling that there is nowhere for them to go, then it will surely seep down to the black high and junior high school youth. The only role left for them is to rebel.
Gangs Almost every African American community has gangs. Very few people understand the nature of these gangs and how they can be transformed into a constructive force for African American liberation. Gangs develop because African American youth have no out in this white man’s racist, capitalist system. African American youth have no room for expression in this savage society. They have no image of manhood or womanhood that they can identify with. African American youth know unconsciously that they are not a part of “the man’s” world. Thus in contrast, the hip world develops.
The gang represents organization, identity and power for African American youth. Living in a hostile world they experience none of these things. The feeling of belonging, being part of something “boss” is a big part of a gang. This sense of identity leads to organization of a gang and from the gang’s strength and influence, comes its power. For Afro-American youth, especially boys, gangs are the only thing in the African American community that can give them a sense of power. This comes from the feeling of being powerless over one’s destiny (the man has control of that) and of being less than a man. Gangs are the most dynamic force in the African American community. Instead of fighting their brothers and sisters, they should unite. They can be developed into a blood brotherhood (African American youth organization) that will serve as a liberation force.
The Outcast The outcasts are the socially, politically aware African American students who venture into CORE’s beat artist bag, freedom now, white and black together thing. One of the main reasons they become outcast is because they usually lose contact with the hip society. They take on white cultural values such as folk music, hootenannies, etc. Swinging out with “whitey” ain’t to cool. “Whitey’s out of it,” he just can’t dig what’s happening and when you’re with him “you’re out of it too.” “The square scene is where whitey’s at” he just ain’t got no soul. By identifying with whitey’s jive cultural values they lose their own black cultural hipness.
The Outlaws and the Only Alternative for the African American Student The outlaws are politically hip African Americans who understand that this white man’s racial-monopoly-capitalist-imperialist system cannot reform itself and cannot ever grant the African American man freedom, justice and equality. They become outlaws because the average African American student is afraid to identify with them. The outlaws are called Revolutionary African American inter-nationalists. We are international revolutionary African American nationalist, not based on ideas of national superiority, but striving for justice and liberation of all the oppressed peoples of the world. We believe in the Constitution of the U.S. which was made to establish justice, but we realize that there can be no liberty as long as African American people are oppressed and the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America are oppressed by Yankee imperialism and neo-colonialism. After four hundred years of oppression, we realize that slavery, racism and imperialism are all interrelated and that liberty and justice for all cannot exist peacefully with imperialism. The Revolutionary action Black Nationalists advocate an revolution that takes the power away from the white capitalist oligarchy and puts it into the hands of the proletariat. We say with a movement of revolutionary and the help of the peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the African American can and must win if they are to survive. Unless the African American turns to self defense he will be exterminated like Jews were in Nazi Germany
African American intellectual youth (college) must unite with African American youth in the ghetto; The message that Revolutionary African American Internationalists have for the African American students is UNITE