February 22, 2010
SNCC's 50th ANNIVERSARY--A SALUTE FROM VETERAN SDSers
A 50th Anniversary Conference of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) will be held from April 15-18 in Raleigh, North Carolina. For those of you too young to remember, SNCC was the cutting edge of the '60s civil rights movement, and played an absolutely critical and courageous role in building that movement and in winning its many successes.
The work of SNCC has been recounted in dozens of books -- among those I heartily recommend are my old friend Joanne Grant's biography of Ella Baker (right), the woman who inspired SNCC ("Ella Baker: Freedom Bound" -- John Wiley & Sons, 1998), whom I was honored to have met on several occasions; the first volume of Taylor Branch's 3-volume Pulitizer Prize-winning history of the civil rights movement, "Parting the Waters: America and the King Years, 1954-1963 (Simon and Schuster, 1989); and "Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement" by former SNCC chairman and now Congressman John Lewis (Harvest Books, 1999); and, of course, the late, great Howard Zinn's "SNCC: The New Abolitionists" (South End Press, 2002). You can find a brief history of SNCC's vital early years on the anniversary conference's web site by clicking here.
In the early 60s as a teenager, I was part of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which was then a solid SNCC ally (I served on the SDS National Council and also on the national staff for awhile at a subsistence wage). The story of those early years of SDS is told in the documentary "Rebels With a Cause," directed by an old SDS colleague of mine, Helen Garvey. In those years, we SDSers participated in many SNCC conferences, actions, demonstrations and boycotts, and those of us in the North mobilized support for the SNCC workers in the South. I'm proud to say I marched on many a SNCC picket line, and was even arrested along with hundreds of others in a SNCC-sponsored mass civil disobedience action to desegregate an amusement park in Maryland. But my tiny contribution was nothing compared to the life-risking work of SNCC members on the front lines in the Deep South to bring down the Jim Crow system of segregation of the races.
In connection with SNCC's upcoming 50th anniversary conference, a group of surviving former SDS members has taken out a full-page ad in the conference's journal to honor our comrades in SNCC and its historically important work (this ad was organized by my old SDS comrade Danny Millstone, who has also created a Facebook page for former SDSers where one can find contact information for many of them, which you can access by clicking here.) The ad reads:
"Veterans of the Students for a Democratic Society salute the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee: the struggle continues and we are still with you after all these years."
Here is a list of those of us who paid for and signed this tribute to SNCC:
Heather & Paul Booth
Rachel Brown Cowan
Dick & Mickey Flacks
C. Clark Kissinger
Michael & Susan Klonsky
Mark A. Lause
Sharon Jeffery Lehrer
Robert M. Nelson
Michael David Nolan
Bill & Jane Phillips
Robert J.S. “Bob” Ross
Vivian Leburg Rothstein
Mark J. Scher
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Posted by Direland at 03:09 PM | Permalink