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NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE
In 1961, when James Forman took over as executive secretary, SNCC offered
a decisive support to the Freedom Riders and decided to focus on two main areas:
voters registration and direct action. SNCC
was involved in all the major events of the following years.
Riders were beaten by mobs, arrested, and imprisoned.
1961 the SNCC organized black voter registration campaigns in the South. In 1964
it helped create Freedom Summer, an effort to focus national attention on
Mississippi's racism by registering black voters. Hundreds of young people went
to the South that summer to help the effort. Three activists participating in
the project—two whites and one black—were murdered by members of the Ku
Klux Klan. SNCC also helped create the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
(MFDP), which challenged the total control whites maintained over Mississippi's
In 1966 when Stokely Carmicheal became chair of SNCC, the organization
moved decisively to embrace the principle of "Black Power" and to
renounce previously held goals on integration and nonviolence.
When Carmicheal left office, the new leader was H. Rap Brown.
He was elected in office in 1967. The
SNCC played a key role in the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King
Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream "speech.
A crowd of 200,000 people gathered around the Lincoln Memorial in August
1963 to hear speeches by leaders of civil rights organizations, such as John
Lewis. Lewis and the King's speech
sent a different message. They both
embraced a desegregated society equal equality for all, but Lewis felt the
federal government was not doing enough or all it can to help bring peace in the
Deep South. He took the stand and
gave his speech at Washington, stating:
"We march today for jobs and
freedom, but we have nothing to be proud of, for hundreds
and thousands of our brothers are not here--for they have no money for their
transportation, for they are receiving starvation wages…or no wages at all. In
good conscience, we cannot support the administration's civil rights bill.
bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire
hoses when engaging in peaceful demonstrations. This bill will not protect the
citizens of Danville, Virginia who must live in constant fear in a police state.
This bill will not protect the hundreds of people who have been arrested on
trumped-up charges like those in Americus, Georgia, where four young men are in
jail, facing a death penalty, for engaging in peaceful protest.
want to know, which side is the federal government on? The revolution is a
serious one. Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the streets and
put it in the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, the black masses are on the march for
jobs and for freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won't be a
We affirm the philosophical or religious ideal of nonviolence as the foundation of our purpose, the presupposition of our faith, and the manner of our action. Nonviolence as it grows from Judaic-Christian tradition seeks a social order of justice permeated by love. Integration of human endeavor represents the crucial first step toward such a society. Through nonviolence, courage displaces fear; love transforms hate. Acceptance dissipates prejudice; hope ends despair. Peace dominates war; faith reconciles doubt. Mutual regard cancels enmity. Justice for all overthrows injustice. The redemptive community supersedes systems of gross social immorality. Love is the central motif of nonviolence. Love is the force by which God binds man to Himself and man to man. Such love goes to the extreme; it remains loving and forgiving even in the midst of hostility. It matches the capacity of evil to inflict suffering with an even more enduring capacity to absorb evil, all the while persisting in love. By appealing to conscience and standing on the moral nature of human existence, nonviolence nurtures the atmosphere in which reconciliation and justice becomes actual possibilities.