EYES ON THE PRIZE FOR 50 YEARS SAY FORMER STUDENT ACTIVISTS PLANNING COMMEMORATION
Greensboro, North Carolina—“Student sit-ins reflected something new in the civil rights movement,” NAACP board chair Julian Bond said today speaking at the official opening of Greensboro’s International Civil Rights Center and Museum—“the emergence of strong young leadership impatient with the pace of change who could not be ignored.”
The museum is located on the site of what was once the Woolworth Department store where anti-segregation sit-ins at its whites-only lunch counter suddenly erupted on February 1, 1960. Within two months similar student-led protests spread to more than 70 southern cities, including Atlanta, Georgia where Bond, then a Morehouse College student, helped organize and lead them. “In profound ways my roots are with this movement,” said Bond.
On the weekend of April 15-17, 1960 Bond along with almost two hundred other student sit-in activists gathered on the campus of what is now Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina and established the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Bond became the organization’s Communications Director.
On April 15-18, 2010 SNCC members will gather again on Shaw’s campus, Bond announced. “Exactly 50 years will have passed, but the struggle continues,” said the NAACP leader. “So we’re not only going to celebrate, but also seriously consider our legacy and its relevance in these times.”
An extensive program of panel discussions, lectures, and films has been planned, said Bond. Congressman John Lewis, historian Howard Zinn, and former Justice Department attorney John Doar are among the commemoration’s confirmed participants.
Speaking from his congressional office in Washington, DC, Lewis, who was the third chairman of SNCC, said, “If SNCC were a small college or university, its ‘graduates’ would make SNCC one of the most prestigious institutes of higher learning in the country.”
The planning committee estimates that 300-400 will attend the event. It is open to the public. For more information, see the conference web site: www.SNCC50thAnniversary.org and contact: Sharlene Kranz, Sharlene@SNCC50thAnniversary.org, Telephone: 202-285-3580.
Also, in attendance at the Greensboro events are Marion Barry, the chairman of the Temporary Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Charles McDew, First Chairman of SNCC, and Constance Curry, a Greensboro native and the first white woman on the executive committee of SNCC.