He intended to criticize John F. Kennedy’s proposed civil rights bill as “too little, and too late,” and to refer to the movement as “a serious revolution” (Lewis, 28 August 1963). With the expulsion of whites, SNCC’s annual income dropped sharply. SNCC pioneered first-time electoral races by blacks in the Deep South in the 1960’S, while adding foreign-policy demands to the black political agenda, thus broadening the acceptable limits of political discourse. The project's spirit would live on through such federally sponsored programs as Model Cities.


(SCLC), the students remained fiercely independent of King and SCLC, generating their own projects and strategies. the Independent civil rights group, which represented students and the young and later evolved into the Black Panthers, changing tactics from Non-violent direct action to militancy. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, often pronounced / s n ɪ k / SNIK) was the principal channel of student commitment in the United States to the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s.

James E. Clayton, “Some in South Defy ICC Order on Depot Signs,” Washington Post, 2 November 1961.

They were organizing—sometimes an escape, or sometimes a rebellion, and constantly, the ways and means of survival in a new, very strange and hostile land. The ruthless white violence directed at any civil rights effort in the rural deep south black belt engendered belief that little was possible through direct organizing efforts. So, on February 1, 1960 when four Black students attending North Carolina A&T College sat down at the lunch counter in a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth Department store, ordered food, were refused service and then remained seated until the store closed, few could have predicted how rapidly similar protests would spread across the south; or the lasting impact on the south and the nation of the sudden direct action by these students.

In June 1966, a civil rights activist, James Meredith, went on his own "Walk Against Fear," from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. In the broadest sense, SNCC’s legacy is the legacy of grassroots organizing. Across the country, and especially in the south, SNCC veterans are influential leaders and activists. The effort drew national attention particularly when three SNCC workers, James E. Chaney of Mississippi, and Michael H. Schwerner and Andrew Goodman of New York, were killed by white supremacists.

All rights reserved. In fact, no Black person in this county nicknamed “Bloody Lowndes” was known to have been registered to vote in the entire 20th century. This march in particular led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act two years later.

Black people had the numbers; if they could get the vote they could begin to dismantle the system of oppression that had dominated Black life for all of the 20th century; indeed, since the abandonment of Reconstruction in 1876. Ralph David Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, historically Black colleges and universities, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), WABE: This Day in History: Hundreds of Students March on State Capitol in Protest of Segregation, English Trade in Deerskins and Enslaved Indians, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library. As a character he was an excellent leader who made the SNCC into a cohesive civil rights group. Opposing exclusive support of black electoral candidates, King continued: “SNCC staff members are eminently correct when they point out that in Lowndes County, Alabama, there are no white liberals or moderates and no possibility for cooperation between the races at the present time. Although Martin Luther King, Jr. and others had hoped that SNCC would serve as the youth wing of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the students remained fiercely independent of King and SCLC, generating their own projects and strategies.
In May 1960 the group constituted itself as a permanent organization and Fisk University student Marion Barry was elected SNCC’s first chairman.

Web. To support and coordinate this spontaneous movement, Ella Baker, a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) official, called a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina from April 16 to 18, 1960. She was also, at 46-years-of-age in 1962, SNCC’s oldest field secretary. He refused bail and served a 30-day sentence of hard labor on a road gang. And this changed the students, laying the foundation for everything they would do as SNCC organizers.

Although the sit-ins and voter registration drives in Albany were slow to produce concrete results, the Albany Movement produced the largest direct-action campaign since the bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama. But a few months before going there to begin that work, on the first anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in, he sat-in and was arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Most immediately, the free speech movement that erupted on the University of California campus at Berkeley during the 1964-65 school year, was initiated by Mississippi Freedom Summer volunteer Mario Savio. He warned his audience: “We want our freedom and we want it now” (Carson, 95).

Indeed, the MFDP and that party’s 1964 challenge not only led to a two-party system in Mississippi and the south, but also forced via the 1972 “McGovern Rules” changes in political practices that have permanently expanded the participation of women and minorities.

The SNCC soon became one of …

Carefully following all of the delegate selection rules for the 1964 Democratic Party national convention, the MFDP challenged the legitimacy of seating Mississippi’s official all-white delegation. This “freedom registration” was followed-up with the organizing of a “freedom party”—the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). King and SCLC later joined with SNCC in Albany, but tensions arose between the two civil rights groups. Ella Baker, one of the great figures in 20th century civil rights struggle had organized this gathering. In May 1966 a new stage in SNCC’s history began with Carmichael’s election as chairman. SNCC organizers embedded themselves in rural black belt communities to work to empower some of the poorest of the poor in America. What did the SNCC accomplish? Even after the dismissal of a group of SNCC’s Atlanta field workers who called for the exclusion of whites, the organization was weakened by continued internal conflicts and external attacks, along with a loss of northern financial backing. Soon white activists began to leave SNCC. Here, too, in Lowndes County are the roots of Stokely Carmichael’s 1966 call for Black Power as chairman of SNCC. So he came back and turned around and told me, ‘I don’t want to see you in town any more. And SNCC’s black belt organizing efforts increasingly revolved around voter registration.

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 militancy through both overt and covert means. Required fields are marked *, RYTF is a 501(c)3 | All Rights Reserved | Copyright 2014, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC’s youthfulness was important to what it was and what it became.

Although individual SNCC activists played significant roles in politics during the period after 1968, and many of the controversial ideas that once had defined SNCC’s radicalism had become widely accepted among African Americans, the organization disintegrated. Under Baker’s suggestion, SNCC formed two wings, one for direct action and one voter registration. 1) Blacks were deliberately and systematically kept illiterate (and the public school system was part of this) while at the same time literacy was the primary requirement for voter registration. At the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, SNCC chairman John Lewis was one of those scheduled to speak.

This was at a time when SNCC organizers were themselves heading North to the "ghettoes" where, as the urban riots of the mid-1960s had demonstrated, victories at lunch counters and ballot boxes in the South counted for little. The disparity between the treatments between black and white Americans was a point of fierce outrage for many and Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955 was the spark needed to catalyze the movement.

And it needs to be said here that this work liberated Whites as well as Blacks. Thanks to voter registration drives, African American businessman Thomas Chatman secured enough votes in a city commission election to force a run-off in late 1962, and in the spring of 1963 the commission removed all segregation statues.

When in 1963 Chuck McDew stepped down as Chairman of the SNCC, he succeeded him. There were more SNCC field secretaries working full time in southern communities than any civil rights organization before or since.


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