The range and scope of manifestations in the Black freedom struggle are varied yet connected by a common thread…it does not matter where you look, pick a point on the map of human geography, pick a geographical landmass or region -- the continent of Africa, the Caribbean or somewhere in Northern part of the Americas, you will find a common thread.
And that thread is the radical imagination of young people. You will find a historical path that reaches into the present. You will find the beginnings of a road built with vibrancy of young folk who envisioned a world beyond struggle.
We can see the materiality of this fact in the continuum of African/a resistance. In 1937, the Southern Negro Youth Congress [SNYC] was created [We demand Our Rights: Southern Negro Youth Congress, 1937-1949].
Assembled in Richmond, VA, for the first Southern Negro Youth Congress were some 534 delegates representing 250,000 young people in 23 states, and an estimated crowd of 2,000 observers. They represented "sharecroppers from Alabama and Mississippi; domestic workers from Georgia…and every other representative of Southern Negro life." [We demand Our Rights: Southern Negro Youth Congress, 1937-1949].
SNYC lasted for 12 years, 1937 to 1949.
On February 1, 1960, Black students in Greensboro, North Carolina launched sit-ins challenging segregation in restaurants and other public accommodations. SNCC was founded just two and a half months later on the campus of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ella Baker was the gathering’s organizer. [SNCC Digital Gateway].
On SNCC’s international dimensions, highlighted by Fanon Che Wilkins, in his article The Making of Black Internationalists: SNCC and Africa Before the Launching of Black Power, 1960-1965, were embryonic as “the founding conference of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, the delegates declared unequivocally: "We identify ourselves with the African struggle as a concern for all mankind" .
To add more clarity, Miss. Baker organized the conference which led to the formation of SNCC “just three weeks after the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa” [Wilkins, 2007: 471].
I present this snapshot, paying attention to historical continuity in African/a student resistance to provide an impetus to engage in more intentionally and consciously mapping of the range and scope of the Black freedom movement.
Today, we present a conversation with SNCC activist: Courtland Cox.
While a Howard University student, Courtland Cox became a member of Nonviolent Action Group [NAG] and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He worked with SNCC in Mississippi and Lowndes County, Alabama, was the Program Secretary for SNCC in 1962, as well as the SNCC representative to the War Crimes Tribunal organized by Bertram Russell.
In 1963 he served as the SNCC representative on the Steering Committee for the March on Washington. In 1973 he served as the Secretary General of the Sixth Pan-African Congress in Tanzania.
Additionally, he co-owned and managed the Drum and Spear Bookstore and Drum and Spear Press in Washington DC.
In our conversation we explored: Freedom Schools; CLR James; Jamil Al-Amin; Black internationalism; Sterling A. Brown; scholars w/o portfolio; independent political parties; Sékou Touré; Tanzania; Marion Berry; and the Sixth Pan African Congress.
Our show was produced today in solidarity with the native/indigenous, African, and Afro-descended communities at Standing Rock; Venezuela; Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi; Brazil; the Avalon Village in Detroit; Colombia; Kenya; Palestine; South Africa; Ghana; Ayiti; and other places who are fighting for the protection of our land for the benefit of all people.
Image: Courtland Cox (second from right), Marion Barry, and others sitting-in at Atlanta Toddle House, December 1963, [https://snccdigital.org/people/courtland-cox/]
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