Join Us! SNCC & Grassroots Organizing, Apr. 26 & 27 at Howard University

SNCC & Grassroots Organizing

Please join us at Howard University (Washington, D.C.) on April 26 & 27, 2024, for the SNCC and Grassroots Organizing: Building A More Perfect Union discussion series, generously supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Featuring veterans of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”) and humanities scholars, this two-day community gathering focuses on SNCC’s grassroots community organizing and its relevance to ongoing efforts to build a more just, inclusive, and sustainable society. At its core, SNCC helped community members feel empowered to make choices and act on the issues that most impacted their lives and their communities.

Come and Join your neighbors to learn more about SNCC’s organizing work and explore connections to your life and community. Please register here!

Friday, April 26

SNCC & Black Power Roundtable Discussion (in-person and virtual)
7:00-8:30 p.m., Howard, School of Social Work Auditorium (601 Howard Place NW)
Black Power is often associated with SNCC’s Stokely Carmichael, who publicized the phrase in June 1966 during the Meredith March Against Fear. Often misunderstood as angry, anti-white rhetoric, these false narratives miss Black Power’s true meaning and deep roots in SNCC’s work and thinking. When Amzie Moore, an NAACP leader and World War II veteran, invited Bob Moses to initiate a voter registration project in Mississippi’s majority Black Delta, he showed him a map and talked about what Black voting could mean in terms of political transformation. African Americans, who were the majority, could claim political power and change their lives. Influenced by their work with rural Black southerners like Moore, as well as by the larger national and international context, SNCC understood Black Power in terms of political and economic power, Black Consciousness, and institution building.

Join us for this roundtable conversation with SNCC veterans, Courtland Cox and Jennifer Lawson, and humanities scholars, Catherine Adams and Hasan Kwame Jeffries, to learn more about how Black Power was at the heart of SNCC’s organizing.

Can’t make it in person? Join the livestream!

Saturday, April 27

Art & Culture Roundtable Discussion & Workshop (in-person)
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Howard, School of Social Work Auditorium
Art and culture were central to how SNCC engaged with communities during the Civil Rights Movement. SNCC hired and trained photographers; gave cameras to local people; and used community-based collaboration to create film strips and other visual materials as educational tools. But nothing was more important than the singing and movement culture at the heart of mass meetings, marches, and every other aspect of the movement. Join SNCC veterans Courtland Cox and Jennifer Lawson, and humanities scholars Catherine Adams and Hasan Kwame Jeffries, to learn more about the impact of art & culture in the Movement.

SNCC & Black Power Learning Toolkit Workshop
1:00-2:30 p.m. Howard, School of Social Work Auditorium
Join SNCC veteran Jennifer Lawson and humanities scholars, Hasan Kwame Jeffries and Catherine Adams, for this interactive Learning Toolkit workshop. Participants will dig into the stories, documents and audiovisual materials to learn about how Black Power was central to SNCC’s organizing and explore together how those lessons might be relevant today. This workshop is geared toward educators, civic organizations, community or activist groups, librarians, youth—or anyone who wants to learn more.

Visit the SNCC Legacy Project website for details and to learn more: https://sncclegacyproject.org/sncc-grassroots-organizing/

Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the SNCC and Grassroots Organizing discussion series is collaborative project of the Movement History Initiative (a collaboration between the SNCC Legacy Project, Duke University Libraries, the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke and humanities scholars), six Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and six civil rights and African American museums.

About our speakers:

Courtland Cox
While a Howard University student, Courtland Cox became a member of NAG and SNCC. He served as the SNCC representative on the Steering Committee for the March on Washington and was a SNCC organizer of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project in the Mississippi Delta. In 1965, Courtland traveled to Lowndes County, Alabama to work with the Lowndes County Freedom Party. In 1968, he and other SNCC veterans organized the Drum & Spear Bookstore and Drum & Spear Press and later served as the Secretary General of the Sixth Pan-African Congress and international meeting of African people in Tanzania. In 1978, Courtland joined the Marion Barry Administration in Washington, DC, and served as the Director of the Minority Business Opportunity Commission. Courtland joined the Clinton Administration as a presidential appointee and served as Director of the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Jennifer Lawson
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.

Catherine Adams
Catherine Adams is an Associate Professor of African American Studies at Claflin University. Her research interests include: Nineteenth-twentieth-, and twenty-first-century Africana literary history; migration, nationalism, and transnationalism narratives; Africana-based pedagogy and curriculum development; Africana science fiction, speculative fiction, and Afro-futurism; life and literary works of Frank G. Yerby; freedom movements and maroonage.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries
Hasan Kwame Jeffries is an Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University where he teaches, researches, and writes about the African American experience from a historical perspective. He is the author Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, the editor of Understanding and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement, and the host of the podcast Teaching Hard History.