The SNCC Legacy Project pays tribute to SNCC veteran Curtis Hayes Muhammad. Our brother passed away quietly on February 1, 2022 after a brave and lengthy struggle with brain cancer. It is a great loss, striking at the very soul of our Movement. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to think about SNCC and Movement life without thinking about Curtis.
In 1961, Curtis and his boyhood friend and cousin, Hollis Watkins (another SNCC legend), left their southwest Mississippi rural community of Chisholm Mission (named for an AME church) for McComb, Mississippi where SNCC’s Bob Moses was organizing a drive for voter registration, and became the first native Mississippians to commit to SNCC’s work as full-time SNCC Field Secretaries. In doing so they marked a path that other young people in the state would follow and that defines SNCC today.
SNCC’s real work in Mississippi begins with this, and the great lesson of Curtis’s life is the value and effectiveness of commitment and persistence. It put Curtis and scores of others on the frontlines of struggle and helped change the South. We cannot completely repay the debt we owe Curtis and all the others he led into struggle, and into SNCC, except for one way: continuing struggle.