Humanities › History & Culture The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's Role in Civil Rights Share Flipboard Email Print The Black Freedom Struggle Introduction Slave Revolts, Abolition, and the Underground Railroad Nat Turner's Rebellion How Slaves Resisted Abolitionist Pamphlet Campaigns The Underground Railroad The Fugitive Slave Act Women Abolitionists The Missouri Compromise and Dred Scott John Brown and His Raid Slavery and the Civil War Emancipation Reconstruction Resistance to Black Codes Radical Reconstruction The Black Church Opposition to Reconstruction: The Rise of the KKK and Other Hate Groups Early 20th Century Rise of Pan-Africanism The Harlem Renaissance Black Soldiers in WWI and WWII Understanding the Jim Crow South The Black Press and Jim Crow The National Association of Colored Women The Southern Civil Rights Movement The SCLC SNCC The Black Panthers 1950s 1960 - 1964 1965 - 1969 Freedom Songs Black Power Politics and Race in Late 20th Century Redlining and Housing Segregation Black Representation in Government: Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisolm, and more Affirmative Action Resisting Racism in Policing and the Justice System Rodney King The War on Drugs The Million Man March Police Racism, Violence, and Black Lives Matter Resisting Racism Today Afro Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images By Femi Lewis African American History Expert M.S.Ed, Secondary Education, St. John's University M.F.A., Creative Writing, City College of New York B.A., English, City College of New York Femi Lewis is a writer and educator who specializes in African American history topics, including enslavement, activism, and the Harlem Renaissance. our editorial process Femi Lewis Updated July 05, 2019 The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was an organization established during the Civil Rights Movement. Established in April 1960 at Shaw University, SNCC organizers worked throughout the South planning sit-ins, voter registration drives and protests. The organization was no longer in operation by the 1970s as the Black Power Movement became popular. As a former SNCC member argues: In a time when the civil rights struggle is presented as a bedtime story with a beginning, middle, and end, it is important to revisit the work of SNCC and their call for transforming American democracy. Establishment of SNCC In 1960, Ella Baker, an established civil rights activist and an official with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), organized African American college students who had been involved in the 1960 sit-ins to a meeting at Shaw University. In opposition to Martin Luther King Jr., who wanted the students to work with the SCLC, Baker encouraged the attendees to create an independent organization. James Lawson, a theology student at Vanderbilt University, wrote a mission statement "we affirm the philosophical or religious ideals of nonviolence as the foundation of our purpose, the presupposition of our faith, and the manner of our action. Nonviolence, growing from Judaic-Christian traditions, seeks a social order of justice permeated by love." That same year, Marion Barry was elected as SNCC's first chairman. Freedom Rides By 1961, SNCC was gaining prominence as a civil rights organization. That year, the group galvanized students and civil rights activists to participate in the Freedom Rides to investigate how effectively the Interstate Commerce Commission was enforcing the Supreme Court ruling of equal treatment in interstate travel. By November of 1961, SNCC was organizing voter registration drives in Mississippi. SNCC also organized desegregation campaigns in Albany, Ga. known as the Albany Movement. March on Washington In August of 1963, SNCC was one of the chief organizers of the March on Washington along with Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the SCLC and the NAACP. John Lewis, chairman of SNCC was scheduled to speak but his criticism of the proposed civil rights bill caused other organizers to pressure Lewis to change the tone of his speech. Lewis and SNCC led listeners in a chant, to "We want our freedom, and we want it now." Freedom Summer The following summer, SNCC worked with CORE as well as other civil rights organizations to register Mississippi voters. That same year, SNCC members helped establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to create diversity in the state's Democratic Party. The work of SNCC and the MFDP caused the National Democratic Party to mandate that all states have equality in its delegation by the 1968 election. Local Organizations From initiatives such as Freedom Summer, voter registration, and other initiatives, local African American communities began creating organizations to meet the needs of their community. For instance, in Selma, African Americans state the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. Later Years and Legacy By the late 1960s, SNCC changed its name to the Student National Coordinating Committee to reflect its changing philosophy. Several members, particularly James Forman believed that nonviolence might not be the only strategy to overcoming racism. Forman once admitted that he did not know "how much longer we can stay nonviolent." Under the leadership of Stokely Carmicheal, SNCC began protesting against the Vietnam War and became aligned with the Black Power Movement. By the 1970s, SNCC was no longer an active organization Former SNCC member Julian Bond has said, "a final SNCC legacy is the destruction of the psychological shackles which had kept black southerners in physical and mental peonage; SNCC helped break those chains forever. It demonstrated that ordinary women and men, young and old, could perform extraordinary tasks."