SNCC 50th Anniversary – Vol. 02 – Early Student Movement Philosophy & Activism

SNCC 50th Anniversary Conference
Volume 2 – Early Student Movement Philosophy and Activism

Muriel Tillinghast (SNCC Field Secretary)
David Dennis (Congress of Racial Equality aka CORE)
Joan T. Mulholland (student, Tougaloo College)
Johnny Parham (Atlanta Student Movement)

While deep dissatisfaction was a major factor mobilizing the young people who would engage in direct action protests, often the first steps into activism led to a greater-than-anticipated commitment. David Dennis who would later become CORE’s Mississippi director recalls that on his first sit-in he thought police would give him the choice of leaving the restaurant. And he planned to leave when ordered. Instead, he was immediately arrested. Adult mentoring played a large role; adults who had long been struggling for change supported young activists and helped expand their view of the world. As one panelist puts it, “You don’t pull commitment out of the air.” Joseph McNeil, one of the four pioneering Greensboro students who sat-in February 1, 1960, is present. Responding from the floor to the question of why he sat in, McNeil says, reflecting the attitude of an entire generation of Black students, “I was angry at segregation, knew segregation was evil, knew if I had kids they would have to live under it, and being a crazy [Negro] was like a badge of honor.”