Organizations

Civil and Political Rights

Why was the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founded?

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a youth political organization, was organized under the leadership of Ella Josephine Baker (1903–1986), a founder and executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Baker saw a need for students to become involved in the fight for equal rights, anticipating that they would need to organize and coordinate their efforts. She invited students to a meeting held from April 15 to 17, 1960, at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Over two hundred college and high school students came from thirteen states, though most were from Nashville, Tennessee. This meeting followed a smaller meeting held at Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, where a number of the issues considered at Shaw were discussed. It was at Shaw that the fight for civil rights gained a new organization, the SNCC. It was independent of other civil rights groups even though these groups wanted them to affiliate. At the urging of Baker, they determined to have a decentralized leadership, maintain strong local leaderships, and keep the lines of communication open among college campuses and students. The group asserted its commitment to “the philosophical or religious ideal of nonviolence.” SNCC concentrated on direct action and voter registration, with an emphasis on the power of the ballot. It saw itself as a movement against injustice and not racially exclusive in membership or focus.



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