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Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

Considered one of the most integral organizations in the 1960s, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”) functioned to offer young people a voice during the Civil Rights Movement. SNCC was founded during the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) hosted at Shaw University in April of 1960. The meeting was organized by Ella Baker, and SNCC was adamant during its formation that it would function separately from other Civil Rights organizations to facilitate their own projects and strategies.

SNCC was most prominent in states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, and Maryland as they played major roles in the early 1960s by participating in various sit-ins and the freedom rides of 1961. The organization shifted focus in 1962-1966 to increase voter registration for people of color, a project that was initiated in McComb, MS. SNCC also participated in the March on Washington in 1963, the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, and were advocates for the formation of the Mississippi Democratic Party in 1964.

After the Democratic Convention of 1964, a dichotomy began to emerge as members began to grapple with the ideology of non-violence as a core value of the organization. One group favored a nonviolent approach while others began to favor black power and Marxism. Under the leadership of Stokely Carmichael as the chairmen of SNCC from 1966-1967, SNCC pulled away from its philosophy of nonviolence. Other members began to question how much longer SNCC could stay nonviolent and remain an effective organization in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1969, SNCC was officially renamed the Student National Coordinating Committee, abandoning their guiding principle of nonviolence. SNCC largely disappeared by the early 1970s due to a decline in funding, ambiguity amongst leadership, and disconnect in organizational philosophy.

History.com (2009). SNCC. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/sncc

King Encyclopedia (2017). Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Retrieved from: http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_student_nonviolent_coordinating_committee_sncc/

Sias, Henry

Born in 1881, Henry Sias was a prominent member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).

After serving in World War I, Sias returned home to Issaquena County and worked as a teacher and farmer for the next four decades. By 1964 when the first civil rights organizers came to Issaquena County, Sias owned 160 acres of land, was a prominent member of the community, and had founded the Issaquena branch of the NAACP. At age eighty-three during the Freedom Summer, Sias helped SNCC workers like Stokely Carmichael meet locals interested in participating in rights-based organizations, like SNCC and COFO.

In 1964 when the MFDP traveled to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City to protest the Mississippi Democratic Party’s racial biases, Sias served as a delegate and “elder statesman”of the group.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) of Issaquena

SNCC began in 1960 as an organization of students concerned with the lack of equality and social justice in the United States. SNCC organized local volunteers for protests and voter registration drives, among other things, in Issaquena County.

Source:

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

MFDP of Issaquena

The MFDP grew out of protest against the lack of diversity among the party elite of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Several Issaquena County leaders, including Unita Blackwell, Henry Sias, and Minnie Ripley, were active in the MFDP.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Mollison, W. E.

W.E. Mollison was an early leader for equal rights in Mississippi and served as historical inspiration for noted activists like Henry Sias and Unita Blackwell.

W.E. Mollison was born in 1859 near Mayersville, Mississippi. Following attendance at Fisk University and Oberlin College, Mollison returned home and worked as a newspaper editor, served as superintendent of public schools for two years, and served as Issaquena County Chancery and Circuit Court Clerk from 1882 to 1892. In 1892, Mollison moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Warren County, where he became a newspaper writer, practicing attorney, and Republican Party activist. From 1910 to 1920, Mollison lived in Chicago, Illinois, and continued to practice law. There he served as President of the Cook County Bar Association and Vice-President of the Anthropological Society.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Blackwell v Issaquena County Board of Education (1966)

(Date of Event: 1965-1966) On January 29, 1965, roughly thirty students at Henry Weathers High School (an all black public school in Issaquena County) began wearing SNCC paraphernalia to school. When the students were reprimanded by school administrators, an outpouring of support from other students and outside leaders occurred. Ultimately 300 students were suspended from school and some participating faculty members were denied the opportunity to renew work contracts. Unita Blackwell and Clarence Hall contacted Marian Wright of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Jackson, Mississippi, regarding the potential of filing a lawsuit on behalf of the students on standing through the First Amendment. By March 6, NAACP representatives sent petitions requesting the right to wear pro-SNCC materials, and no response was returned. On April 1, 1965, Blackwell v Issaquena County Board of Education was filed on behalf of 196 plaintiffs. Jerry and Jeremiah Blackwell, Unita Blackwell’s son and husband, were listed as the first plaintiffs.

District Judge Herald Cox initially rejected the request for an injunction concerning the SNCC pins. Simultaneously, however, Cox ruled that the black students of Henry Weathers High School could not be prohibited from attending white public schools. Cox ordered Issaquena County to submit a desegregation plan in what Unita Blackwell sites as “one of the very first desegregation cases in Mississippi.”

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

COFO of Issaquena

COFO was a coalition of organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) under the direction of Bob Moses. COFO registered black residents of Issaquena County beginning in 1962 to vote in the 1964 presidential election.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Hall Jr., Clarence

Clarence Hall, Jr. was a local activist who made some of the first inquiries into an NAACP law suit against the Issaquena County Board of Education for the suspension of students wearing pro-SNCC materials in 1965. Following the ruling in Blackwell v. Issaquena that black students could not be prohibited from attending white schools, Hall became a leader in registering black students for historically white public schools. Hall was the first black citizen to register to vote in Issaquena County in 1957.

Hall was also active in a number of local chapters of important rights organizations, including the Delta Ministry. Hall was particularly vital as an administrative assistant to the Freedom City project beginning in 1966, an affordable housing initiative that eventually failed. Hall served as a key mover in the implementing the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and Head Start legislation.

In 1968, Hall ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress on the Democratic ticket.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Delta Ministry in Issaquena Co.

The Delta Ministry was formed by the NCC in 1964 to hold grassroots training sessions for sharecroppers on the importance of voting, political activism, and community communication. In Issaquena County and throughout the Delta, the Delta Ministry fought for the Head Start program, increased healthcare quality, and affordable housing. The Delta Ministry is often credited with carrying on the fight for social justice following COFO’s collapse and decreased activism from SNCC and other rights-oriented organizations.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/