The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, was created on the campus of Shaw University in Raleigh in April 1960. SNCC was created after a group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University refused to leave a Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina where they had been denied service. This sparked a wave of other sit-ins in college towns across the South. SNCC coordinated these sit-ins across the nation, supported their leaders, and publicized their activities. SNCC sought to affirm the philosophical or religious ideal of nonviolence as the foundation of their purpose. In the violently changing political climate of the 60's, SNCC struggled to define its purpose as it fought white oppression. Out of SNCC came some of today's black leaders, such as former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, Congressman John Lewis and NAACP chairman Julian Bond. Together with hundreds of other students, they left a lasting impact on American history.
John Lewis was an influential SNCC leader and is recognized by most as one of the important leaders of the civil rights movement as a whole. In 1961, Lewis joined SNCC in the Freedom Rides. Riders traveled the South challenging segregation at interstate bus terminals. In 1963, when Chuck McDew stepped down as SNCC chairman, Lewis was quickly elected to take over. Lewis' experience at that point was already widely respected--he had been arrested 24 times as a result of his activism. In 1963, Lewis helped plan and took part in the March on Washington. At the age of 23, he was a keynote speaker at the historic event. He stepped down from his position in 1966. Stokeley Carmichael, a fellow Freedom Rider, was elected chairman of SNCC and soon after raised the cry of "black power." Some were alarmed by the concept of black power and many were critical of Carmichael's new approach.
In the summer of 1964, SNCC organized the Mississippi Summer Project, which was an urgent call to...
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