BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The SNCC Legacy Project Board of Directors is responsible for the purpose, direction and collective memory of SNCC and its contribution to the Movement
Chairman: Courtland Cox
While a Howard University student, Courtland Cox became a member of NAG and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He worked with SNCC in Mississippi and Lowndes County, Alabama, was the Program Secretary for SNCC in 1962, and was 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 Mr. Cox served as the Secretary General of the Sixth Pan-African Congress and international meeting of African people in Tanzania. He co-owned and managed the Drum and Spear bookstore and Drum and Spear Press. Cox was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the Director of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the Department of Commerce, a position he held until January 20, 2001.
Treasurer: Larry Rubin
Larry Rubin was a SNCC field secretary off and on between 1961 and 1965, first in SW Georgia and then in northern Mississippi. After SNCC, he went to Kentucky with an assignment from the Southern Conference Educational Fund.
Aside from stints with the Philadelphia Urban Coalition, the National Jewish Committee Relations Advisory Council and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, for 45 years Larry has worked in the labor movement as an organizer, media and public relations specialist, speechwriter, publications editor and political advocate. He was also a reporter for the Dayton Daily News, a speechwriter for the U.S. Department of Education, and served four terms on the Takoma Park, Maryland City Council.
SECRETARY: Cynthia Goodloe Palmer
Cynthia currently serves as the Executive Director of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Inc., since 2012. She previously served as the coordinator for the organization since 2005. Previously she worked at Jackson State University as the Resources and Media Technology Manager for the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center.
Most recently, she served as the Executive Director for the 2014 Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference in Jackson, MS, served on the 2013 50th Anniversary Committee for the Commemoration of the murder of Medgar Evers, and as Operations Director for the 2011 Return of the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary Reunion (Jackson, MS). In addition, Cynthia also served on the committee for 2015 50th Anniversary of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Alabama.
Cynthia is a recording artist, songwriter, producer and has recorded and self-produced 5 CD’s. She has traveled extensively to Africa, Brazil, England, Holland, Canada, Alaska, France, Germany and to several Caribbean islands, singing. In 2000, Cynthia founded the Canton Gospel Music Association (CGMA) located in her hometown of Canton, MS. Since 2006, this organization has awarded 95 music scholarships to up and coming musicians.
Administrative Officer: Kimberly Johnson
Kimberly Johnson has served as Administrative Officer of the SNCC Legacy Project since its inception in 2011. Her duties include managing the day-to-day communications and coordination of SLP programs and activities. Kimberly holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications and Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
For two years (1963-1964) Bruce Hartford was a full-time activist in the L.A. Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Non-Violent Action Committee (N-VAC). In 1965 he became a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Alabama and Mississippi. He worked on the Selma voting rights campaign and the March to Montgomery, and was later project director for Crenshaw County Alabama voter registration.
In the summer of 1966 he participated in the Meredith March Against Fear in Mississippi, and until 1967 he was part of the SCLC field staff in Grenada Mississippi during the long and bloody struggle to end segregation and win voter registration. For the past 30 years he has worked as a technical writer in the Silicon Valley computer industry. He was a founding member and officer (now retired) of the National Writers Union (NWU). Since 1999 he has been a member of Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement and webspinner for the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website that documents the Southern Freedom Movement in the words of those who lived it. He is a local leader of an Indivisible chapter.
Bruce is the author of : The Gandhi Ring (2006 science fiction novel as a metaphor for the Freedom Movement), The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (2012), The Selma Voting Rights Struggle & the March to Montgomery (2014), Voting Rights in America: Two Centuries of Struggle (2018), and Troublemaker: Memories of the Freedom Movement (2019).
Charles E. Cobb Jr., is a retired senior analyst for allAfrica.com, the world’s largest electronic provider of news and information from Africa. He is also a visiting professor at Brown University where he conducts an undergraduate seminar titled The Organizing Tradition of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. He was a SNCC field secretary in Mississippi from 1962-67.
Cobb’s latest book is This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed. He is also the author of On the Road to Freedom, a Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail. With civil rights organizer and educator Robert P. Moses he co-authored Radical Equations, Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project. He is also a co-editor of No Easy Victories, American Activists and African Liberation over a Half Century.
A founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Cobb began his journalism career in 1974 as a reporter for WHUR Radio in Washington, DC. In 1976 he joined the staff of National Public Radio as a foreign affairs reporter. From 1985-1997 Cobb was a member of the Editorial Staff of National Geographic magazine. In July 2008, Cobb was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
Retired Legislative Counsel. While in high school she was a member of NAG, and later worked in MFDP and DC SNCC Offices, in the New York SNCC Office, at the MFDP Challenge in Atlantic City in 1964, and in Tuskegee, Alabama. Kranz has worked on Capitol Hill for two Members of Congress, for the National Welfare Rights Organization, for the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and for the Council of the District of Columbia. She is a graduate of an HBCU law school. Sharlene manages the SNCC Legacy Project website.
Dr. Geri Augusto grew up in a household in Dayton, Ohio that was “Friends of SNCC.” While a student at Howard University, she joined the Center for Black Education, co-editing its radio program, SAUTI, and the Pan African Bulletin, and working at Drum & Spear Bookstore in Washington, D.C.. She later worked as the Information Officer for the 6th Pan African Congress in Dar es Salaam, in 1973-74, and stayed on afterwards to become an English editor at the Tanzania Publishing House. From 1979-91, she lived in Angola, where she worked with the Southern African Development Coordinating Conference (now SADC), the Angolan ministries of Energy and Agriculture, and as a Portuguese/English interpreter for a variety of ministerial, Frontline states, and UN meetings in Southern Africa and Europe.
Currently she is a Watson Fellow of International Studies and also teaches public policy at Brown University. In Brazil, she is part of a project team setting up a new Leadership Institute for Black and women’s social movements in the Northeast, in Salvador da Bahia. In South Africa, she is on the Pan African Advisory Council for Freedom Park, and is an honorary research associate at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for African Studies. She previously taught at Harvard Kennedy School, from 1994 to 2002, and holds a BA in economics (Howard), MPA (Kennedy School, Harvard) and EdD, in human and organizational learning (GWU Graduate School of Education).
Jamil Al-Amin, Ex-Officio
H. Rap Brown (born Hubert R. Brown and later known as Jamil Al-Amin) in his early organizing work for justice, such as in Alabama. This was prior to his remarkable activism north of the Mason Dixon line. Yes, Brown and others were challenging Alabama’s Governor George Wallace and the prevailing white supremacy that denied Blacks virtually everything in terms of what is referred to as democratic rights. The unjust and racist system was entrenched in the South and in the country as a whole, resulting in H. Rap Brown, along with his Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) colleagues, challenging it all.
Jamil Al-Amin was active in voter rights, desegregation struggles across South; appointed Director, Greene County, Alabama SNCC Project, as well as worked in Georgia and Mississippi Black Belt counties, including working with the Mississippi Summer Project and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. In May, 1967 he was elected as Chairman of SNCC. In July, 1967, the state and federal governments began their collusion, through the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program — COINTELPRO — of harassment and false charges against him as part of their campaign to disrupt and destroy the Black Liberation Movement.
Dr. Joyce Ladner
A highly respected sociologist, Dr. Ladner grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi during the era of racial segregation. During her years of activism in the early sixties, she worked with civil rights martyrs Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer, Clyde Kennard and two of the three civil rights workers who were murdered in 1964, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner. Even though she was in college, she failed the voter registration literacy test and did not get registered until a federal court order was granted.
Dr. Ladner received her B.A. degree from Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi and while there, she was arrested for trying to worship at the all-white Galloway Methodist Church. She spent a week in jail. She continued her education and received her PhD in sociology at Washington University. She was the first woman president of Howard University from 1994 to 1995, where she also served as professor of sociology from 1981 to 1998.
She has received numerous awards including the Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University, St. Louis, and honorary doctorates from Howard University and Tougaloo College. She was a senior fellow in at The Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington, D.C. until her retirement in 2003. She was also a member of the United States Department of Justice’s Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
When the city of Washington, DC went broke in 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the five-member District of Columbia Financial Control Board (1995-98) whose job was to balance the city‘s budget. Dr. Ladner has authored, co-authored and edited eight books.
Maisha Moses is the Executive Director of The Young People’s Project, where her work focuses on broadening the participation of groups underrepresented in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. She holds a master of science degree in mathematics, and has worked with The Algebra Project and The Young People’s Project in various capacities since 1991. From 1991 – 1995 she worked for the Algebra Project in Oakland CA with the math department of a local junior high school, where she provided classroom support for students and teachers, instructional guidance in the use of the AP Transition Curriculum, and helped to lead efforts to establish an Algebra for all policy in the school.
In 1993 she began training and coaching teachers in AP schools across the country in the use of the Transition Curriculum, which led to becoming certified as a national trainer for the AP, becoming co-Coordinator of the AP National Training of Trainers Program, and involved training trainers and developing a competency model for Teachers and Trainers (the AP Model of Excellence).
In 1997 she began supporting the development of YPP math literacy workers by applying the training principles from the AP to the challenge of developing a training program for peer instructional leaders in YPP, for the purpose of developing young people from our constituent population, who are equipped with the skills and competencies to facilitate experiential learning activities in mathematics for their younger peers. In 2003 she began doing this work as a YPP employee, and from 2005 – 2010 focused on formalizing the training model and developing a YPP trainer training program through work supported by NSF/ISE (award # 0515589), producing a formal 2-week training institute, training materials, and an ongoing development and certification process for trainers.
Dr. Judy Richardson
Judy was on SNCC staff from 1963 to 1966 in Cambridge, MD, in the national office in Atlanta, in Greenwood, MS during 1964 Freedom Summer, in Southwest Georgia, and in Lowndes County, Ala. As a documentary producer she worked on the fourteen-hour PBS series Eyes on the Prize, the film for the Little Rock Nine historic site, and most recently PBS’s Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968.
She has worked for numerous social justice organizations and writes, lectures, and conducts teacher workshops on the civil rights movement. She is a co-editor of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. Click here to watch Judy accept her honorary degree at Swarthmore College.
Karen Spellman is a special events producer who formed her company in 1984 specializing in large-scaled cultural and social justice programs. She is a graduate of Howard University and received her master’s in city planning from Georgia Tech. Her work in the civil rights movement began as a high school student in the Greensboro, NC NAACP youth chapter where she participated in sit-ins for public accommodations. In 1963, she began her work with SNCC as a Howard University student organizer working with the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG) and the DC SNCC office. In 1966 she became a full time SNCC worker in Atlanta, Georgia as the SNCC Research Director at the national office, and provided materials and publications for the SNCC Newsletter, created “The Panther’s Claw” newsletter for the Lowndes County Freedom Organization and produced the Afroamerican News Service that provided feature articles documenting the work of SNCC to the national black press.
Maria Varela is a community organizer, writer, photographer and occasional adjunct professor who lives in New Mexico. She was a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1963-1967 working primarily in Alabama and Mississippi. Varela created filmstrips and photo books utilized by SNCC and local community organizers for various organizing campaigns. She took up the camera because of the lack of training materials showing Black people taking leadership to change their communities. Varela’s job as a SNCC staffer also included photographing marches, as the presence of cameras often protected marchers from violence.
In 1968, she moved to New Mexico at the invitation of leaders of the Hispano land rights movements. She also continued her photography documenting the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, the first Chicano Youth Conference, the 1960’s and 1970’s Chicano movement, and the lifestyles of Hispano villages. For 40 years Maria organized rural communities in New Mexico and the Southwest to create culturally sustainable economic enterprises to help reduce poverty and loss of ancestral lands. In 1990, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for this work.
In 2005 she was among the “1000 Women Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.” Varela is the first Latina woman to document the 1960’s civil rights struggle in the black belt south.
For the last five decades, her work has been included in books and photo exhibits featured in galleries and museums, including the New York Public Library (1968), the Smithsonian (1980), the Howard Greenberg Gallery (1994), Eastman House (1998), The Colorado College (2000), Smith College (2005), and a traveling exhibit, This Light of Ours (2010-16).
She is currently supporting the work of Native American activists in New Mexico and Arizona who are fighting for environmental justice on their native nations poisoned by uranium mining.
Timothy L. Jenkins was student body president at Howard University when the sit-in movement erupted in 1960. That same year he was elected National Affairs VP of the National Student Association before entering Yale Law School. During this period he was Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee lobbyist on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and a member of the executive committee of the Students for a Democratic Society. Among other duties he has taught at Howard University Law School, the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced Studies and the David A. Clarke School of Law. He co-founded the National Conference of Black Lawyers, was appointed governor of the United States Postal Service, president of the University of the District of Columbia and is now chair of Unlimited Visions, Inc. He is coauthor of Blacks in the Information Age.
Born in Georgia, Dr. Frank Smith, Jr. left Morehouse College during his senior year to work for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was the first SNCC worker sent into Mississippi to register voters, based in Holly Springs, in 1962. From 1962 until 1968, he worked with SNCC organizing and registering African Americans voters in Mississippi and Alabama. He helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Labor Union.
In 1968, Smith moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a researcher for the Institute for Policy Studies, focusing on education and planning issues. In 1979 he was elected to public office and served one term on the D.C. Board of Education. In 1982, Smith was elected to the District of Columbia City Council where he served for 16 years.
Smith is now the founding Executive Director of the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington, DC. It is the only national memorial to the colored troops who fought in the Civil War and one of the most unique memorials in Washington, D.C. See this article about Dr. Smith from Ebony Magazine.
Phil Hutchings, Ex-Officio
Phil was born and raised in Ohio, and entered Howard University in 1960, where he soon became involved with the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), the local SNCC affiliate. In 1964 he worked in Mississippi for the MFDP and at the Democratic Convention in Atlanta City. From 1964-1968 in worked in Newark, NJ with the Newark Community Union Project. He served as SNCC’s last chairman from 1968-69.
During his tenure as chair, he was involved in forming the National Black Anti-war Anti-draft Union with his colleague Johnnie Wilson; the Pan African Skills Program, providing medical, agricultural, and technical aid in Tanzania; forming alliances with groups in North Korea, Cuba, and opening SNCC offices in Sweden and Paris; working with Native American groups on fishing rights in Washington State; and discussion of the role of black power in organizing.
After SNCC, he lived in Detroit for several years and eventually settled in California, where he has lived since 1977, working with different political and social change groups. He was co-founder of “Just Cause” which works to prevent evictions and for rent control, and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons is a retired Assistant Professor of Religion and affiliated faculty in the Women Studies Department at the University of Florida.
Raised in Memphis, Simmons received her BA from Antioch University in Human Services and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion with a specific focus on Islam from Temple University as well as a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies. Simmons’ primary academic focus in Islam is on the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) and its impact on Muslim women, contemporarily.
Simmons has a long history in the area of civil rights, human rights and peace work. During her early adult years as a college student and thereafter, she was active with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and spent seven years working full time on Voter Registration and desegregation activities in Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. She was on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker peace, justice, human rights and international development organization headquartered in Philadelphia, PA for twenty-three years.
Cleveland Sellers, Jr.
Cleveland Sellers, Jr. was born in Denmark, South Carolina. In 1960, in response to the Greensboro sit-ins, he organized a sit-in protest at a Denmark, South Carolina lunch counter. At the age of 15, he was active for the first time with the Civil Rights movement. While attending Howard University, Sellers became involved with SNCC. He worked on voter registration drives in Mississippi, and was the director of the Holly Springs COFO office during Mississippi Freedom Summer. In 1965 he became the program director of SNCC. In the summer of 1966 he participated in the Mississippi March Against Fear. Sellers was one of the first members of SNCC to refuse to be drafted into the U.S. military as a protest against the Vietnam War. Sellers graduated from Howard in 1967. After graduation, he returned to South Carolina.
On February 8, 1968, approximately 200 protesters gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University (in the city of Orangeburg) to protest the segregation of the All Star Bowling Lane. Police officers panicked when they thought they were being attacked (so they claimed) and fired into the crowd, killing three young men and wounding 27 others. The Governor blamed “outside Black Power agitators,” but subsequent investigations showed this allegation was without basis. The ensuing trial, billed as the first federal trial of police officers for using excessive force at a campus protest, led to the acquittal of all nine defendants. Sellers was the only individual imprisoned as a result of the incident. He served seven months in prison after a conviction for inciting to riot. Sellers received a full pardon 25 years after his conviction, but he chose not to have his record expunged, keeping it as a “badge of honor.” After his release from prison, Sellers earned a Master’s degree in education from Harvard University in 1970. He ran unsuccessfully for office in Greensboro, North Carolina while aiding the 1984 presidential campaign of Reverend Jesse Jackson. Sellers earned his Ed.D. in History at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1987. Dr. Sellers served as Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. In 2008, Sellers was selected as president of Voorhees College (Denmark, South Carolina), and has just recently retired.
He is the author of the memoir The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC.
Freddie Greene Biddle
Freddie Greene Biddle was an active member of SNCC and retired as a commercial loan specialist from the US Small Business Administration. Her work in the civil rights movement began as a high school student in Greenwood, MS where she worked on a voter registration drive.
She worked as a field secretary in Greenwood and McComb, MS in the summers of 1963, 1964 and 1965 and attended Dillard University in New Orleans during those years. She left Dillard University to work full time in the Atlanta SNCC office and later became the office administrator. She has over thirty years of experience in business, including managing a small business development center, managing an embassy commissary and working as an accountant. Biddle holds a Bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington, DC.
Born in Alabama, Jennifer Lawson first marched for civil rights in 1963 in what became known as the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, AL. She attended Tuskegee University and left to work full-time with SNCC in Lowndes County, Alabama where she drew billboards, comics, booklets, and leaflets in support of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, publicizing the work of the people of Lowndes County and their political party’s symbol, the black panther.
In 1968, she helped establish Drum and Spear Bookstore and Drum and Spear Press in Washington DC and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Jennifer later became the first chief programming executive at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). In the 1990s she was named one of the “101 Most Influential People in Entertainment Today” by Entertainment Weekly. In 2016, she was honored with the Ralph Lowell Award, public television’s highest award. Working with the SNCC Legacy Project and Duke University, she has supported the development of the SNCC Digital Gateway.
Dorothy Miller Zellner
Dorothy M. Zellner was a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1962 to 1967, and of the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF) from 1967 to 1972. In SNCC she worked with the late Julian Bond as part of SNCC’s communications department and ran the Northeast Regional Office of SNCC. She spent the 1964 Freedom Summer in Greenwood, Mississippi, and worked in Atlanta, Georgia, and Danville, Virginia, as well.
After living a total of 20 years in the South, Ms. Zellner returned to New York City, where she became a long-time staff member at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and then worked at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law.
One of the six editors of the award-winning book Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC (University of Illinois, 2010), she is a volunteer for Jewish Voice for Peace; a founding member of Jews Say No!; and a member of the board of the Friends of the Jenin Freedom Theatre.
Bernice Johnson Reagon, Member Emeritus
Born in Dougherty County, GA, outside of Albany, Reagon counts her participation in the Civil Rights Movement while a college student at Albany State College (from which she was expelled after participating in a demonstration for which she and others participating were jailed) as a transformative rebirthing. She was a member of the original SNCC Freedom Singers formed in 1962 by SNCC field secretary Cordell H. Reagon, and in 1966, a founding member of the Atlanta-based Harambee Singers. Song and singing has remained a constant in her life. In 1973 while a graduate student of history at Howard University and vocal director of the DC Black Repertory Theater, she formed the internationally renowned African American Women’s Acappella Ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. She led the group until her retirement in early 2004. She is Professor Emeritus of History at American University, Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and served as the 2002-2004 Cosby Chair of Fine Arts at Spelman College (her alma mater) in Atlanta, GA. Two of her major works are seminal to the study of this tradition: Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions and Africans in America: America’s Journey Through Slavery. Reagon served as a principal scholar, conceptual producer, and host for Peabody Award-winning, Wade in the Water, the 26 show series produced by National Public Radio and Smithsonian Institution (premier broadcast 1984). She was the score composer for the Peabody Award-winning film series produced by WGBH TV, Africans in America (broadcast in a PBS documentary film series in 1998). Click here to watch Bernice sing.