Black History: Special Delivery!!
Founded in April 1960 the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was organized by African American college students to give younger blacks a stronger voice in the civil rights movement. Activist Ella Baker, who was a director with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was credited with organizing students to launch SNCC. Baker was concerned that SCLC, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was not in sync with younger blacks who sought faster progress in the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others hoped that SNCC would serve as the youth arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). However, SNCC chose to remain independent of SCLC throughout its existence.
SNCC convened its first meeting at Shaw University in 1960. Over 200 students attended this meeting along with Ella Baker. Baker encouraged the group to be independent and autonomous from SCLC. Fisk university student, Marion Barry was appointed as the group’s first chairman. Though SNCC and SCLC had their differences, the two groups worked together throughout the civil rights movement. SNCC was dedicated to the elimination of segregation in southern states. It also was focused on amplifying the voices of African Americans in the U.S. civil rights movement. SNCC effectively leveraged and advanced the “sit-in” movement as a form of non-violent protest. Within their first year of operation, sit-in demonstrations took place in 54 cities across nine states.
SNCC partnered with activists from the Congress of Racial Equity (CORE) on the 1961 Freedom Rides which took place in the rural counties of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia culminating in “Freedom Summer” which took place in 1964. Freedom Summer was an effort to focus national attention on racism in the states of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. In retaliation, the Klu Klux Klan murdered three SNCC activists, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman. During the years of 1964 and 1965, SNCC was active in organizing voter registration campaigns in and near Selma, Alabama. Several members of SNCC who were committed to Black Separatism took over the CORE Organization. They were led by Stokely Carmicheal CORE previously favored integration over separatism. Carmichael was expelled from SNCC in 1968 because he favored the use of violence in advancing the cause of civil rights.
Following the historic Selma to Montgomery March, Stokely Carmichael and other SNCC organizers began working in the rural areas between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. Their focus was on helping black residents launch the all-black Lowndes County Freedom Organization, which later became the Black Panther Party. Carmichael was named the chair of SNCC in 1966, marking a shift in the focus and tactics of the organization. Carmichael identified with the trend of moving away from non-violence. His appointment as the chair created much tension with the more moderate civil rights groups. It was during this time that the “Black Power” movement was launched. The group became increasingly more divided internally due to its direction of moving towards black separatism. When the leadership of SNCC transferred from Carmichael to H. Rap Brown, the group became a target of the Counterintelligence Program (FBI) of the U.S. government. The goal of the FBI at that time was to crush black militancy in all forms.
By the time Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated the group weakened to the point where it was no longer able to effectively organize or advocate since many of its leaders had already separated from the organization. There were a number of SNCC leaders who achieved national notoriety including John Lewis, Marion Barry, and, Rubye Robinson, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Julian Bond.
The video link gives some background SNCC history:
The World Book Encyclopedia.
Copyright 1996, World Book, Inc.