A national symposium celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee will take place on Thursday, April 22, and Friday, April 23, 2010, at Brown, sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies. The symposium is free and open to the public.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — A national symposium celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) will take place on Thursday, April 22, and Friday, April 23, 2010, at Brown University, sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies.

The symposium, “Come Let Us Build A New World Together,” will feature a series of conversations among SNCC activists, scholars, students, and the general public, examining the history of the organization and its continuing relevance in American society. The symposium will emphasize SNCC’s grassroots organizing tradition, philosophy, and strategies.

The symposium will feature a number of distinguished participants including:

  • Robert P. Moses, former SNCC Mississippi Project director, MacArthur “Genius” Award winner, and founder of the Algebra Project;
  • Vincent Harding, former advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. and noted scholar of African American history;
  • Judy Richardson, former SNCC field secretary and associate producer of the award-winning PBS series Eyes on the Prize;
  • Maria Varela, former SNCC field secretary and MacArthur “Genius” Award winner;
  • Muriel Tillinghast, former SNCC field secretary and interim general manager of WBAI.

Through a series of panels, the symposium will focus on such topics as the eruption of the student sit-in movement that began Feb. 1, 1960, and the spread of student-initiated protest across the American South; the movement by students from protest to grassroots organizing; the leadership role of women within a full-time grassroots organizing movement; the challenges of the grassroots political philosophy of SNCC; the tensions between student activists in SNCC and leaders from other established civil rights organizations; the impact of the Cold War and decolonization on SNCC’s organizing work; Black Power and the expansion of African American elected officials; and the lessons learned and continuing relevance of the history and memory of SNCC for American civic culture.

Scheduled events

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Smith-Buonanno Hall, Room 106
95 Cushing St.

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Remembering SNCC
This conversation will feature several SNCC veterans who will reflect on and analyze their experience as it affected them and the communities in which they organized, bringing to the fore the lessons relevant for today. Discussants: Robert Moses, Judy Richardson, Charles Sherrod, Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, Maria Varela, Jean Young. Moderators: Charles E. Cobb Jr., Brown University; Corey D.B. Walker, Brown University.


Friday, April 23, 2010
Alumnae Hall, Crystal Room
194 Meeting St.

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. — The Black Organizing Tradition
This conversation will explore grassroots community organizing, a very old tradition in black America, which may have been more important than protests or charismatic leaders in defining SNCC and the southern movement. Discussants: Dorie Ann Ladner, Muriel Tillinghast, Hollis Watkins, Jean Young. Moderator: Geri Augusto, Brown University

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Black Politics: Independence or Integration?
This conversation will explore whether or not there is a significant black politics, SNCC’s role in cultivating a new politics, and the role of black elected officials and the black community. Discussants: Ivanhoe Donaldson, Lawrence Guyot, Bob Mants, William Strickland. Moderator: Greg Carr, Howard University.

2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. — Teaching the Freedom Movement in a Divided America
This conversation will explore the dynamics of teaching movement history at all educational levels and outside of educational institutions. Discussants: Vincent Harding, Robert Moses, Judy Richardson, Maria Varela. Moderator: Albert Mosley, Smith College.

4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. — SNCC in American History and Memory
This conversation will explore past and recent scholarship on the history and meaning of SNCC and its contributions to American public life. Discussants: Emilye Crosby, SUNY–Geneseo; Claudrena Harold, University of Virginia; Wesley Hogan, Virginia State University; Hasan K. Jeffries, Ohio State University. Moderator: Françoise N. Hamlin, Brown University.

The symposium is organized by Charles E. Cobb Jr., visiting professor of Africana studies, former SNCC field secretary, noted journalist, and senior analyst for AllAfrica.com, the world’s largest electronic provider of news and information from Africa. With civil rights organizer and educator Robert P. Moses, Cobb co-authored Radical Equations, Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project. Cobb is also co-editor of No Easy Victories: American Activists and African Liberation Over a Half Century.

The symposium is also organized by Corey D. B. Walker, associate professor of Africana studies, a scholar of African American philosophy and religion and author of A Noble Fight: African American Freemasonry and the Struggle for Democracy in America.