SNCC: The Importance of its Work, the Value of its Legacy
The time was 1960, the place the U.S.A.
That February first became a history making day
From Greensboro all across the land
The news spread far and wide
That quietly and bravely youth took a giant stride
Heed the call
Side by equal side
Brothers sit in dignity
Sisters sit in pride
—Ballad of the Sit-Ins by Guy Carawan, Eve Merriam and Norman Curtis
These organizers, armed with the names of grassroots contacts Ella Baker had developed over many years, even decades, began digging into southern black belt communities. By the fall of 1961 SNCC had established two significant organizing projects: Southwest Mississippi and Southwest Georgia. Both regions, rural and containing majority Black populations, were characterized by violent and vicious opposition to Black voting rights with terror and reprisal encouraged and supported by state and local government in response to any civil rights activity.
The Black Organizing Tradition and SNCC
SNCC Organizing Projects
Nationwide, student struggle was also inspired by the southern movement and these movements expanded and accelerated in the decade of the 1960s. SDS’s grassroots Educational and Research Action Projects (ERAP) in the North grew out of discussions with SNCC and observation of its work. The Northern Student Movement (NSM), initially formed in 1961 to aid SNCC, became an activist organization with nearly 50 campus chapters taking on welfare reform, dysfunctional schools and other community organizing projects.
RECOMMENDED READING FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Hands on the Freedom Plow, Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, edited by Faith Holsaert, et. al.
Deep in Our Hearts, Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement, by Joan Browning, et al.
Many Minds, One Heart, SNCC’s Dream for a New America, by Wesley Hogan
SNCC, the New Abolitionists, by Howard Zinn
In Struggle, SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s by Clayborne Carson
Ready For Revolution, the Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael, by Stokely Carmichael with Ekueme Michael Thelwell
The Making of Black Revolutionaries, by James Forman
The River of No Return, by Cleveland Sellers with Robert Terrell
Walking With the Wind, by John Lewis with Michael D’orso
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, by Barbara Ransby
Ella Baker, Freedom Bound, by Joanne Grant
The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, by Bob Zellner with Constance Curry
Freedom Song, by Mary King
Letters From Mississippi, edited by Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez
Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, by Hasan Kwame Jeffries
Radical Equations, Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project, by Robert P. Moses and Charles Cobb