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Author: Robin Hayes
Title: The Dialogic Relationship Between Black Power and African Independence: A Case Study of SNCC's Role, 1960-1970
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
Fall 2005

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Source: The Dialogic Relationship Between Black Power and African Independence: A Case Study of SNCC's Role, 1960-1970
Robin Hayes

vol. 4, no. 2, Fall 2005
Article Type: Essay

The Dialogic Relationship Between Black Power and African Independence: A Case Study of SNCC's Role, 1960-1970

Robin Hayes


Through investigating a period of anti-racist and anti-colonial political activity by peoples of African descent in the United States and Africa, I hope to find out if and how working transnational relationships within the African diaspora can be formed and sustained. This essay explores the mechanisms and effects of what social movement theorists define as "diffusion" between African independence movements and black power organizations in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. Using the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a case study, this research demonstrates that relationships between social movements in the black diaspora were dialogic in the sense that the ideologies and tactics that were exchanged between these movements were influenced and inspired by this exchange. This study also demonstrates that the process of racial identity formation that occurred within each of these movements also aided the development of this dialogue. African independence and black power activists believed that both racial identities and racist practices were transnational phenomena, and, as a result, they were open to engaging black anti-racist movements that were active in other countries. By exploring the connections and influences of organizations and individuals at the height of political activism in the African diaspora during the twentieth century, this research provides insight into how African and African American anti-racist activists and organizations may form relationships based in mutual partnership and solidarity in the future.

The Questions

Through investigating a period of anti-racist and anti-colonial political activity by peoples of African descent in America and Africa, I hope to find out if and how working transnational relationships within the African diaspora can be formed and sustained. Specifically, this essay explores the mechanisms and effects of what social movement theorists define as "diffusion" between African independence movements and black power organizations in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. Through exploring the connections and influences of organizations and individuals at the height of political activism in the African diaspora in the twentieth century, this research provides insight into how African and African American anti-racist activists and organizations may form relationships based in mutual partnership and solidarity.

The questions I explore in this essay are: Were black power organizations in the United States influenced by the ideology and tactics of African independence movements? If so, to what extent? Can this influence be best explained by the cross-national diffusion model (CNDM) prevalent in social movement literature? If not, what other model can better illuminate the nature of this relationship? What sociohistorical factors could have predicted this influence? Were there social institutions indigenous to the African American community that helped facilitate this relationship? Finally, what are the implications of this relationship for our understanding of relationships between activists and organizations within the African diaspora as well as the development of transnational strategies for resisting racism? In this essay, I will present findings based on a case study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and its relationship with African independence movements during the 1960s.

I have chosen SNCC as the basis for this study because its development between 1960 and 1970 mirrors the changing discourse within the African American community about the most effective means of addressing the community's problems. In the early 1960s, the model of nonviolent civil disobedience used to achieve equal access to institutions and public facilities popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was dominant. However, toward the end of the decade, it was joined by discourses that considered the use of violence and alliances with Third World social movements in order to to completely transform the political, social, and economic institutions of the United States Similarly, SNCC began in 1960 as a decentralized coalition of largely African American student groups that adhered strictly to Gandhian principles of nonviolence and sought to obtain equal citizenship rights through integration and other reforms. By 1967, the majority of SNCC's members considered themselves part of an "emerging Third World coalition of revolutionaries" (Sellers 1973, 188). The belief that a transnational coalition among Africa-descended peoples was essential to the success of anti-racist movements throughout the world would ultimately become a significant aspect of SNCC's ideology.

In this case study, I use archival data to examine the following hypotheses:

  1. Organizations and activists within African independence movements did have relationships with the black power movement in the United States between 1957 and 1971. These relationships facilitated the exchange of ideologies and tactics. In addition, they provided sites for expressions of solidarity between Africans and African Americans who considered themselves to be engaged in national liberation struggles.
  2. The mechanisms of the relationship between African independence and black power movements cannot be sufficiently explained by models of cross-national diffusion. The process was not simply bi-lateral, between transmitter and adopter, nor was it unidirectional.
  3. The relationship between African independence and black power movements was dialogic, in the sense that the ideology and tactics that were exchanged between these movements were influenced and inspired by this exchange. In addition, the exchange itself constituted an aspect of the ideology and tactics that were "transmitted."
  4. The routing of ideas, strategies, people, and organizations across geographic boundaries, which is characteristic of the black Atlantic, facilitated this relationship between African independence and black power movements. A process of racial identity formation that occurred within each of these movements also aided the development of this dialogue. Activists and organizations within these movements believed that both racial identities and racist practices were transnational phenomena. As a result, they were open to engaging black anti-racist movements that were active in other countries.
  5. Institutions indigenous to the black Atlantic provided sites for this dialogue to take place. Face-to-face interactions occurred during activist and diplomatic tours of African American communities and independent African nation-states as well as in the presence of African independence activists at historically black colleges and universities. In addition, black newspapers in the United States and movement publications in Africa circulated information about the ideology, tactics, and status of anti-racist protest in the black diaspora.
  6. This dialogue was also aided by "messengers," organizations and/or individuals who sought to establish links between African and African American political movements. The messengers were motivated by their belief that Africans and African Americans shared a common racial identity and could more effectively protest the consequences of racism by working in coalition with one another.

The findings of my research support an alternative model for transnational relationships between anti-racist social movements [1] in the African diaspora (see figure 1). This hypothetical model depicts a process in which "Empire," or racist hegemonic institutions that operate across national boundaries, target different groups within the black Atlantic for varying forms of marginalization.

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Figure 1

Simultaneously, social movements within the black Atlantic form ideologies and tactics inside their national boundaries to respond to Empire. In addition, these movements engage in a transnational dialogue with other movements in the black Atlantic in which ideologies and tactics are exchanged. This dialogue occurs through "channels" or institutions indigenous to the black Atlantic. Within these channels, "messengers" work to facilitate this exchange. It is important to note that each aspect of this model is dynamic. Both the "techniques of domination" (Foucault 1977) employed by hegemonic institutions and the ideologies and tactics formed by anti-racist social movements within the black Atlantic to counter these techniques continuously evolve.

Black Power & African Nationalism

The term "black power" was first popularized in 1966 by Kwame Turé, [2] an activist with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). According to Turé, this concept asserts that "group solidarity is necessary before a group can operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society" (Turé 1992 [1967], 44) and implies "the creation of power bases from which black people can work to change statewide or nationwide patterns of oppression" (Carmichael 1971, 21). This concept also defines anti-racist [3] protest as necessarily transnational, responsive to evolving forms of imperial rule, and rooted in the context of rapid decolonization. In this essay I use the term black power to refer to the ideology and tactics of anti-racist social movement actors and/or organizations based in the African American community that explicitly rejected the southern civil rights movement's petition for "first-class citizenship" and militant adherence to the principles of non-violence (Carson 1995). Black power is, therefore, particular to this era of black insurgency within the United States during the mid- twentieth century. It is also part of a larger tradition of black nationalism in the United States. that has existed since the antebellum period.

The term "black nationalism" generally refers to a form of anti-racist activism among African Americans that emphasizes intraracial solidarity and seeks political, cultural, and/or economic autonomy to ameliorate the consequences of racist practices. Black nationalists conceptualize African Americans (and, sometimes, other peoples of African descent) as being essentially different from competing social and ethnic groups and bound together by ties of history, culture, and kinship (Van Deburg 1997). Additional tenets of black nationalist ideology are the rigorous challenge of racial hierarchies which claim the physical, cultural and intellectual superiority of peoples of European descent and the assertion that "white people and their institutions are irreversibly incapable of fulfilling the needs of black people" (Anderson 1971). Black nationalist ideology "imagines" a finite, sovereign black community, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that exist within its boundaries (Anderson 1983, Cohen 1999). In order to gain social and cultural autonomy, black nationalists historically have sought the creation of separate nation-states and societal or cultural institutions exclusively for African Americans, as well as varying forms of reparations for slavery and for the racist political, cultural, and economic practices which followed it. It is important to note that black nationalism is an umbrella term that can refer to movements that are diverse in their articulations of the most urgent needs of African Americans and their beliefs about the most appropriate remedies to the consequences of white supremacy.

Comparable to the black power movement in the United States, African independence movements sought to end European control of the human and economic resources of the continent as well as the racial hierarchies that structured social and political processes during colonial rule. I use the term "independence (or anti-colonial) movement" to refer to social movements that aimed to end the colonial status of their African nation-states and create political, social, and economic systems that were governed autonomously by the inhabitants of that nation-state. African independence movements both articulated and combatted the various "techniques of domination" (Foucault 1977) that were used by European colonizers, including: systematic practice of deportation or exile, forced labor, the use of firearms, corporal and capital punishment, imprisonment, and the introduction of highly authoritarian social institutions in the form of missions, schools, hospitals, mines, and plantations (Bayart 2000, 256). These movements also intended to dismantle the racial hierarchies perpetuated by the practices of segregation and violence (Davidson 1995, Lapping 1989). The ideology and tactics of African independence movements varied significantly because they responded to the specific cultural, political, and economic contexts of the colonizing governments and indigenous ethnic dynamics of each country. However, frequently recurring tactics of these movements included the use of violence to overthrow colonial regimes, petitioning the international community for intervention, nonviolent civil disobedience, as well as intercontinental and intracontinental Pan-Africanism.

A Diffuse Theory

In order to explore the mechanisms of the interactions between African independence and black power movements, I looked to the social movement and African diaspora literatures for a theoretical foundation. I have found that the issue of how social movements influence one another across national borders has scarcely been addressed in social movement theory. However, this emerging field has produced a consistent conceptualization of this process, defined as "cross-national diffusion." In their article, "The Cross-National Diffusion of Movement Ideas," Doug McAdam and Dieter Rucht (1993) argue that the elements of social movement diffusion are: 1) a person, group, or organization as transmitter; 2) a person, group, or organization as adopter; 3) item that is diffused; and 4) a channel of diffusion. Channels of diffusion can be either relational, by direct interpersonal contact, or non-relational through different kinds of media. These channels disseminate information to a group of potential adopters who define themselves as similar to the transmitters and/or the ideas which are diffused. According to these authors, the "institutional equivalence" of groups (i.e., students, laborers, etc.) and shared problem definition usually assist this process of "similarity attribution." McAdam and Rucht assert that relational ties are more effective in creating diffusion between social movements than non-relational ties because they create a sense of "immediacy and direct relevance" (66). In order to determine whether diffusion has occurred, the transmitter movement must be followed chronologically by the adopter movement and the two movements must share specifiable common elements such as ideological themes, tactics, organizational forms, or slogans.

In his work, "The Cross-National Diffusion of Protest" (1993), Hanspeter Kriesi concurs with many of McAdam and Rucht's arguments about the content and method of social movement diffusion. He argues that the content of diffusion can consist of mobilizing ideas (i.e., goal, issue, theme, etc.), a form of organization, or a model of action. However, Kriesi also goes one step further than McAdam and Rucht by establishing conditions of cross-national movement diffusion. He argues the conditions for diffusion are the presence of a movement sub-culture, cultural and spatial proximity, and a shared perception of the political opportunity structure.

The "political opportunity structure," as defined by social movement theorist Sidney Tarrow, describes aspects of the political system that are significant indicators of social movement success. According to Tarrow, protest cycles can emerge when there is a shift in either the "degree of openness of formal political institutions, the degree of stability of political alignments within the political system, and the availability and strategic posture of support groups" (Cohen 1999, 719). A shift in the political opportunity structure can be any event or broad social process that undermines the calculations and assumptions on which the political establishment is structured (e.g., wars, industrialization, or international political realignments) (McAdam 1999 [1982], 41).

Although cross-national diffusion theorists claim that ideology and tactics are the substantive content of what is distributed from one social movement to another, they are vague in their definitions of those terms. I use the term "ideology" to describe a system of ideas that arises from a given set of interests. In this sense, ideology is a conception of past, present, and future which is shaped by a group's specific social condition. More specifically, I am interested in ideology as the "mental frameworks—the languages . . . imagery of thought and the systems of representation," which different social groups deploy to gain lucidity about the way society works (Hall 1983). I use the term "tactics" to signify the plan or method of social movement actors to achieve their goals. It implies a repertoire of specific actions as well as the design of this repertoire. While ideology can inform tactics, and tactics can reflect ideology, there is a significant distinction.

In summary, "cross-national diffusion" occurs when social movement organizations/actors "transmit" ideology, tactics, and perceptions of chances of success to "adopter" social movement organizations/actors through indirect and/or direct "channels." According to cross-national diffusion theorists, the conditions for this process are the "attribution of similarity" between transmitter and adopter, the presence of a movement sub-culture, and a shared perception of the political opportunity structure. The standard for determining diffusion is whether adopter organizations/actors demonstrate specifiable similarities after some form of contact with transmitter organizations/actors. Models of cross-national diffusion do not consider processes of identity formation (in terms of gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or ethnicity) as factors in this process.

Africa and Its Descendants

Contrary to cross-national diffusion theory, the literature which explores the diasporic connections between Africans and African Americans often focuses on aspects of African culture which have either diffused to the Americas or been retained despite the physical separation of blacks from Africa and the cultural interventions of colonialism and apartheid. Although this literature emphasizes contacts and linkages between Africa-descended peoples, few scholars have posited a theory of social movement interaction within the African diaspora. The concept of diaspora is, of course, predicated on the notion that certain forms of identity are salient enough to persist despite the lack of spatial proximity to a homeland (Kelley 1999). However, the concept of a black diaspora necessarily signifies the forced dispersals of Africa-descended peoples throughout the world that were caused by the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonization of Africa, and apartheid as well as their economic and social consequences.

Political scientist Ronald Walters explores the concept of black diaspora through the prism of what he calls the "Pan African analytical method," which "recognizes the dominant influence of African identity, history and culture in the transactional relations of African-origin peoples in the diaspora" (1997, 46). He argues the African diaspora must be understood through its struggle to realize the diaspora's social, political, and economic objectives. Although he seeks to verify the "horizontal" political relations of transnational African communities, Walters does not establish a theory that explains precisely how racial identity factors into resistance strategies for social movements in the black diaspora. To the contrary, Walters depicts a history of Pan-African, anti-racist contact without explaining how specific formations and articulations of racial identity or the impact of certain socio-historical factors created the conditions for this contact. [4] In addition, Walters deemphasizes the significance of migration and travel to this Pan-African interaction.

Sociologist Paul Gilroy centers his investigation of anti-racism in the African diaspora on culture and movement in his work, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (1999 [1993]). He argues the black Atlantic, as "a singular and complex unit of analysis," has, throughout its history, responded to racial terror by attacking modernity's paradigms, such as rationality, freedom, and the valuation of elitist forms of culture (15). According to Gilroy, black Atlantic culture possesses an "unashamedly hybrid character" (99) and is simultaneously a subculture and an integral part of dominant culture. Travel throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa has been essential to the development of black Atlantic political consciousness, which contains a tension between the "politics of fulfillment," a movement "oriented toward the rational pursuit of the good life," and the "politics of transfiguration," acceptance of the fact that racial hierarchies force this movement to be defensive in character (112). While Gilroy argues that the consequences and nature of racist practices necessitate the transnational quality of the black diaspora, he does not specifically examine the conditions for interactions between anti-racist social movements in the black Atlantic or how periodized articulations of racial identity color the content of these interactions.

Thus, we can understand the African diaspora or the black Atlantic, as a territory that is neither sovereign nor confined to established boundaries, although it is understood to be "inherently limited" to people of African descent (Anderson 1983). [5] In place of an official language, there is a consistent effort to locate common cultural characteristics with singular historical roots (Kelley 1999, 1051). The alienation and dispersal caused by a variety of racist practices throughout the world has led to an imagining of Africa as a homeland—to which people of African descent must return spiritually, culturally, and/or physically or from which they are permanently exiled. The idea of black diaspora has been a frame for periods of interactions between anti-racist social movements that can be specified within the context of fluctuating articulations of racial identity and ever-evolving forms of racial hierarchies, both of which are expressed in political and cultural ways.


I have employed the methodology of content analysis to evaluate the published archival materials of SNCC: the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Papers, 1959-1972, which were published on microfilm in 1982; and the edited volume of the Student Voice, 1960-1965, which was the periodical of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. [6] Content analysis, "a method of inquiry into the symbolic meaning of messages," involves developing exclusive and exhaustive categories for the analysis of a medium's content. A researcher then selects "units," such as words, phrases, images, or themes from this content and enumerates the frequency or incidence of their appearance (Holsti 1969, Krippendorf 1980). After sorting through hundreds of items in the collection of SNCC papers and dozens of articles in the Student Voice, I categorized and coded correspondence, press releases, memorandums, articles, and other items that describe the organization's actions related to African independence movements.

To analyze the nature of these activities and their objectives, I have classified them into one of four categories: "propositional," "consciousness-raising," "travel," "and "solidarity." Items in the propositional category describe or express actions taken by SNCC or its staff members to propose programs that would provide support for or raise awareness about African independence movements. Items in the consciousness-raising category describe or express actions taken by SNCC or its staff members to raise awareness either among its constituency or among the broader African American community about independence movements or SNCC's support of these movements. Items in the travel category describe occasions in which staff members traveled to African countries as representatives of SNCC. Items in the solidarity category describe or express programmatic actions taken by SNCC to provide political support for African independence. In addition, I have also examined eyewitness accounts by SNCC activists for further information about the organization's general program, its evolving ideology, and Africa-related activities.

The Rise and Decline of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

In his account of the life of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening (1995), historian Clayborne Carson divides the existence of the organization into three phases. "Coming Together" characterizes its growth period between its founding in 1960 and 1964. "Looking Inward" refers to a period of internal conflicts and uncertainty about the direction of the organization between 1965 and 1967. "Falling Apart" describes a period of decline between January 1968 and 1970 that was caused by a variety of factors, including increased harassment by local police and federal authorities, waning financial support, and the departure of many of its volunteers. [7] These phases demonstrate that SNCC's ideology and tactics changed dramatically during its short life span.

While SNCC's overall objective of improving the conditions of African Americans remained constant throughout its existence, its strategies for achieving that goal changed dramatically. During the "Coming Together" phase, SNCC adhered strictly to the philosophy of non-violence and worked towards the objective of integration as a means of achieving equal opportunity for African Americans. At this time, the organization was in full agreement with the NAACP, the SCLC, and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), which operated under the theoretical leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (although it was unique in its focus on developing indigenous leadership among blacks in the impoverished rural areas of the South). SNCC's goal was to attain racial equality for blacks—meaning that African Americans would have the same opportunities and access to participation in the dominant political, economic, and social institutions of the United States. Equal opportunity was often signified by the concept of "first class citizenship" (Clayborne 1995, 3) in the United States. In this first phase, SNCC volunteers and staff members embraced "American values" as they perceived them, which include the condemnation of Communist ideology and upholding of Judeo-Christian traditions. During this period, there was little expressed hostility to the dominant institutions of the United States.

During the "Coming Together" phase, the organization focused on tactics such as sit-ins, voter registration drives for blacks, and freedom rides (which sought to integrate public means of interstate travel). During this period, few SNCC staff members questioned the absolute legitimacy of nonviolence on which the organization was based. Its mission statement, written by Reverend J. M. Lawson, stated explicitly: "We affirm the philosophical or religious ideal of nonviolence as the foundation of our purpose, the pre-supposition of our faith, and the manner of our action. Nonviolence, as it grows from Judaic-Christian traditions, seeks a social order of justice permeated by love" (Carson 1990, 3, emphasis added). It was only toward the end of this phase that SNCC began to use the strategy of building alternative institutions for blacks. These institutions included the freedom schools, which engaged curriculum that specifically addressed the needs of African American students and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which sought to unseat the segregated Democratic Party representatives from Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic convention. These programs anticipated the more radical shifts in ideology and tactics that would occur during its next stage of development.

It was the unique proximity of SNCC staff members and volunteers to their impoverished, rural, black constituency that led to the "Looking Inward" phase. During this period, SNCC staff members reflected on the validity of its integrationist objectives and nonviolent tactics, as well as the appropriateness of their relationships with white volunteers and organizations. During this second phase, SNCC started to vocalize its opposition to what it believed to be the hegemonic political and economic institutions of the United States. At that time, SNCC staff members viewed themselves as part of the "global phenomenon" of the "sweep of anti-colonialism throughout the world" ( See Sources noteGreenberg 1998, 23). SNCC began to define African Americans as colonized people within a colonizing nation, thus U.S. institutions were delegitimized, and an anti-colonialist objective was adopted. In May 1967, newly elected Chairman H. Rap Brown declared SNCC a"human rights organizatio" and announced that they would"encourage and support the liberation struggles against colonialism, racism and economic exploitatio" around the world (Forman 1972, 262).

During the "Looking Inward" period, SNCC increasingly sought ways to directly support movements in the developing world that used violent tactics and to develop programs in the United States that would address the conditions of blacks that were caused by what they perceived to be colonial institutions. SNCC activist Ivanhoe Donaldson argued, "SNCC workers should develop ties with the Third World by protesting against the Vietnam War, supporting black resistance in South Africa, and developing international alliances" (Carson 1995, 201). At an organizational retreat in 1966, Chairman John Lewis called for the establishment of the Bureau of Third World Affairs and longtime SNCC staff member Ella Baker recommended establishing a seminar in "revolutionary" ethics led by revolutionaries from Third World nations (202). Executive Secretary James Forman asked the organization to consider doing "something about inadequate housing, inferior education, the inequities of welfare, unemployment, insufficient medical attention, the malignment nature of America's racist foreign policy (stemming, of course, from a racist country and the exploitative wars in which we are asked to fight and to support)" (1972, 479). SNCC chapters in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles explored programs that directly addressed the issue of autonomy for African Americans.During the "Falling Apart" period, the objective of ending colonialism and transforming capitalist institutions remained in place. In addition, increasing awareness among black Americans about the international implications of U.S. racism became an important tactic of SNCC. In 1967, James Forman resigned as Executive Secretary and became director of the International Affairs Commission because, "[w]orking on international affairs, I felt that I could help inject an anti-imperialist position not only into SNCC but into the black movement as a whole" (1972, 481). Chairman Stokely Carmichael argued that, ". . . there is no 'American dilemma' because black people in this country form a colony, and it is not in the interest of the colonial power to liberate them. Thus, institutional racism has another name: colonialism" (Turé & Hamilton 1992 [1967], 5). In his Dialectics of Liberation speech, Carmichael illustrates SNCC's views on how issues of class, race, and nationality intersect: "[t]hese are very real colonies, in the sense that they are capital and cheap labor exploited by those who live outside the cities. It is white power that makes the laws, and enforces these laws with guns and nightsticks in the hands of white racist policemen and their black mercenaries" (1971, 86). In addition, Carmichael, Forman, and other SNCC staff members began to travel more extensively to developing nations in order to seek allies.

Although SNCC was actively moving toward accepting the potential inevitability of violence, incorporating issues of class and U.S. foreign policy toward developing countries, and attempting to build relationships with new allies during the "Falling Apart" period, increased harassment from the Federal Government, the loss of financial support from more moderate foundations and individual donors, and increasingly hostile internal divisions eventually brought about the organization's demise. SNCC staff members' long established tendency to publicly and forthrightly express their views regardless of the costs brought them closer to potential allies in black ghettoes and in the Third World, while also strengthening the hand of their critics in Congress and prompting more vigorous oppression by the FBI (Carson 1995).

SNCC and Africa, in particular

Although many of the eyewitness accounts and historical works about the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee mention the interest of SNCC staff members in Africa, their travel to the continent and organizational representatives' statements of support for social movements in Africa, there are few descriptions of the organization's work to either build alliances with African movements or promote activities which would support these movements in the United States. I have categorized the items that appeared in the microfilmed version of the SNCC Papers and the volume of the Student Voice (1960-1965) that primarily described actions taken by SNCC or its representatives to either organize support for, or work in coalition with, African independence movements. Out of hundreds of items that were considered, there were a total of 29 items that primarily described or expressed actions taken by SNCC or its representatives to achieve its stated objectives of working with and supporting African independence movements. The four categories are propositional, consciousness-raising, travel and solidarity (see Figure 2 for definitions). The travel events are primarily described by eyewitness accounts and mentioned by some items in the archival materials. Five of the items were placed in the propositional category; ten items in the consciousness-raising category, three items were placed in the travel category (including two which were not included among the microfilm collection and the Student Voice) and twelve in the solidarity category.

Figure 2: Categories for Content Analysis
propositional propose programs which would provide support for or raise awareness about African independence or anti-apartheid movements
consciousness-raising raise awareness either among its constituency or among the broader African American community about independence or anti-apartheid movements or SNCC's support of these movements
travel occasions in which staff members traveled to African countries as representatives of SNCC
solidarity programmatic actions taken by SNCC to provide political support for African independence or anti-apartheid movements (e.g., demonstrations)

The first propositional item (see Figure 3) appears in November 1962 and is a letter from James Forman, who was Executive Secretary at the time, to George M. Houser of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA). ACOA was a messenger organization that aimed specifically to educate African Americans about African independence movements and organize solidarity activities in the United States in support of African independence. In this letter, Forman agrees to propose the idea of "involving affiliates in [the Committee's] Appeal for Action Against Apartheid" (Reel 42). The next item occurs nearly three years later from Dona Richards and is a "Report of the Beginnings of the Africa Project" (Reel 51). In the memorandum, Ms. Richards urges other SNCC staff members to begin implementing the Africa program that had been discussed at previous meetings. She outlines a possible program that involves organizing a conference at Lincoln University, creating a library of books about Africa for SNCC staff and developing educational materials for field workers and volunteers; all of which would be considered consciousness-raising activities. This item demonstrates the significance of indigenous black institutions, such as historically black colleges and universities (HBCU's), to disseminating information about the ideology and tactics of African independence movements as well as how ideology within SNCC was becoming increasingly transnational during this period. Richards, along with staff members Janet Jemmot, Bob Parris, and Doug and Tina Harris send another memorandum in early 1966, again urging the establishment of an African Affairs bureau and proposing a program in African culture, a conference of black intellectuals, and a teach-in program that would bring African students to the south. This item specifically references the 1964 SNCC delegation to Guinea and highlights the significance of travel to Africa to the increasingly transnational ideology of SNCC. Another undated memorandum follows (between January 1961 and June 1967) written by Ms. Richards that proposes an African affairs department with similar types of programs, "to make the long overdue link between the struggle for self-determination of black peoples abroad and . . . in the United States." This item also indicates that SNCC's ideology during this period was strongly influenced by African independence movements.

A propositional activity that was not described by any items within the SNCC Papers was James Forman's idea for the Afro-American Skills Bank program. The program would have involved sending African Americans with technical skills to certain African countries as a "counter to the Peace Corps" (1972, 484). During his trip with attorney Howard Moore to a United Nations committee conference on Southwest Africa in the summer of 1967, Forman spoke with African officials about the viability of the program:

One of our most successful experiences was our talks with President Julius Nyerere [of Tanzania] and other high government officials about the Afro-American Skills Bank. We all agreed that some of the technical skills that black people acquired from living in industrialized America would be helpful in Africa. It would demonstrate concretely the rising interest in Africa on the part of blacks in the United States, with a program whose goal was not control and co-optation but revolutionary unity. (484)

In his autobiography, The Making of Black Revolutionaries (1972), Forman seems unable to decide why the Skills Bank program never got off the ground. At one point he writes, "[f]or reasons which will probably remain a diplomatic mystery, the program was held in abeyance by the African countries involved" (508). He then admits, "some African officials have indicated that we did not follow up with enough vigor" (508). Later he posits that, "we do not know the exact reasons . . . It is our guess that the United States put the squeeze on these countries, for such a program directed by SNCC would have been too dangerous to the international prestige of the US" (536). The Afro-American Skills Bank proposal indicates that SNCC had developed relationships with African independence movements and the dialogic nature of this relationship. It is clear that SNCC was both influenced by the ideology and tactics of Nkrumah's Pan-Africanism (Nkrumah 1963) and sought to disseminate its own vision of Pan-African cooperation. Forman's theory of how geopolitical pressures prohibited the implementation of the Skills Bank program indicates that between 1960 and 1970, the intensification of the Cold War may have narrowed the international opportunity structure for transnational cooperation between anti-racist social movements in the black diaspora.

As with the Skills Bank program, it is difficult to discern why the activities in the propositional category never came into fruition. However, the propositional items indicate that although SNCC's focus remained primarily on domestic issues between 1960 and 1970, certain activists within SNCC attempted to develop and maintain relationships between the organization and African independence movements. The propositional items that I found within the SNCC archives indicate that various activists within SNCC sought to develop various programs that would broaden support for African independence movements among activists in the United States, educate African Americans about African independence efforts, or provide opportunities for African Americans to contribute to African independence movements through working in Africa. These proposals for Africa-related activities were due to the following factors: 1) relationships developed by SNCC activists with African independence activists during trips to Africa; 2) relationships between SNCC activists and members of institutions indigenous to the African American community; 3) SNCC's adaptation of a more explicitly anti-colonial ideology during its "Coming Together" phase; and 4) relationships between SNCC activists and messenger organizations. It seems that African independence movements were not simply transmitting the content of their social movements to SNCC as an adopter, but that SNCC's own ideology contributed significantly to its interest in Africa. In addition, SNCC sought to make its own contribution to African independence movements, thus, creating a dialogic process. The cross-national diffusion process does not seem to provide an adequate model to describe the relationship between SNCC and African independence indicated by the above-mentioned evidence.

Figure 3: Propositional Activities
Date Item Activity
11/14/62 Letter to George M. Houser from James Forman propose involving affiliates in "Appeal for Action against Apartheid"
10/65 Memo from Dona Richards-Report of the Beginnings of the African Project plans to organize Africa conference with Charles Hamilton at Lincoln University
1/29-3/24/66 Memo from Janet Jemmot, Bob Parris, Dona Richards, Doug & Tina Harris urges establishment of African Affairs bureau based on '64 delegation and Moses's trip to Africa; African Cultural Program to raise "Black Consciousness" and conference of black intellectuals in April 1965 in Atlanta; teach-ins by African students in the south
7/24-8/67 Afro-American Skills Bank Program Forman proposes program which would organize American blacks to work in select African Countries
1/61-6/28/67 n.d. Memo from Dona Richards to Staff Re: A SNCC African Project proposes African Affairs Department to "function as an educational and politically programmatic project" and "to make the long overdue link between the struggle for self-determination of black peoples abroad and . . . in the United States"

The ten consciousness-raising activities found in the SNCC papers and the Student Voice aimed to raise awareness about African independence movements among SNCC's constituency in the United States (see Figure 4). During the "Coming Together" period (1960-1964), three consciousness-raising activities are described: first, a speech by James Forman at a Pan-African student conference; second, a cablegram sent by Chairman John Lewis and Executive Secretary James Forman congratulating Kenya on its newly won independence; and third, James Forman's attendance of a conference on economic sanctions. Each of these items indicates that SNCC activists cultivated relationships with African independence movements. In addition, two of these items demonstrate the significance of institutions indigenous to the black diaspora to the cultivation of these relationships. Messenger organizations and conferences provided contexts for SNCC activists to express their solidarity with African independence movements.

During the "Looking Inward" period (1965-1967), four more activities are described. The Washington, DC chapter announces a six-week educational program for the community that includes curriculum about newly independent African countries. SNCC releases the position paper, "The Indivisible Struggle Against Racism, Apartheid and Colonialism," which is first presented at a United Nations Committee meeting in the Congo and, shortly afterwards, at a press release calling for the withdrawal of investments in South Africa. In the paper, SNCC called on all the delegations to notify their governments that Afro-Americans say they are victims of the same colonialism that established apartheid, that the struggle against racism is indivisible" (Reel 17:2). In addition, SNCC affirmed that their "efforts inside the United States would hasten victory for the liberation struggle in Southern Africa, and that the struggle in Africa would hasten a better life for Africans living in the United States" (Forman 1972, 491). All of the consciousness-raising activities during this period originated from SNCC activists, without the facilitation of messenger organizations. This seems to reflect the increasingly transnational ideology of SNCC during this period. However, institutions indigenous to the African diaspora and travel throughout the black Atlantic continue to be important during this period, as evidenced by the paper given in the Congo. Again, the cross-national diffusion model does not appear to provide sufficient explanation for these activities, as SNCC activists attempted to influence the ideology and tactics of African independence movements while they were being influenced by these movements.

There were three consciousness-raising activities during the "Falling Apart" (1968-1970) period. These activities seem more diverse in nature. They ranged from the announcement of SNCC's formal recognition of its goal to "struggle against racism, capitalism and imperialism" (Reel 51) to speeches by SNCC staff members in Washington, DC and Montreal. These activities reflect SNCC's continuing relationship with African independence movements. It appears that institutions indigenous to the black diaspora and messenger organizations facilitated this relationship during this period. In addition, it appears that SNCC's ideology continues to be influenced by that of African independence.

Figure 4: Consciousness Raising Activities
Date Item Activity
11/20/63 Letter from Chimere Ikoku references speech at Pan African students conference and invitation of students to participate in work in Selma; solicitation of funds for participation & support of Angolan refugees in Congo
12/16/63 Article from Chairman John Lewis and Executive Secretary James Forman congratulating Kenya on its independence sending cable gram calling Kenya's independence struggle "an inspiration"
5/5/64 Article announcing James Forman's attendance of International Conference on Economic Sanctions Against South Africa Forman to travel to London for Conference
1/65-1/67 n.d. Statement by Stokely Carmichael statement against "world court decision" that negates "the need of Southwest Africa to be free"
7/26/66-5/31/68 n.d. Letter from "The Committee for Liberation" of Washington, D.C. SNCC to "The Community" announces six week educational program "designed to stimulate the black student to learn more about himself" includes curriculum about "the politics of the emerging African nations"
7/24-8/67 'Indivisible Struggle Against Racism, Apartheid & Colonialism': SNCC position paper SNCC presents paper outlining its opposition to U.S. imperialism; support for African independence, etc.
8/29/67 Press Release: Last Statement made by SNCC delegation at the UN Conference on Racism, Colonialism & Apartheid "we are absolutely certain that efforts within the United States will hasten victory in Southern Africa"-calls for OAU to increase Southern Africa support; G.A. to implement resolutions by force if necessary; curtailing of Great Powers of Security Council; U.S. to withdraw investments and civilians
7/68 Inter-Staff Memorandum from International Affairs Commission Re: The New SNCC announces "new direction" of SNCC, formerly identifies goals as "struggle against racism, capitalism and imperialism" agreed upon at 6/68 meeting; new coalition with Black Panther Party
8/24/68 Press Release of Pan-African Students Organization, Inc. (Reel 60: 68) announces 8th annual conference at Howard University featuring SNCC project secretary Phil Hutchings & Stokely Carmichael (after leaving SNCC)
10/11-14/68 Speech to Black Writers Conference: Montreal, Canada discusses ideas of Fanon and their relevance to revolutionary struggle of ALL blacks

There were three travel activities described in the eyewitness accounts that I evaluated which did not appear in the archival material (see Figure 5). First is the SNCC delegation, which traveled to Guinea between September 11 and October 4, 1964 at the invitation of entertainer Harry Belafonte and President Sekou Touré and included SNCC staff members James Forman, John Lewis, Robert Moses, Dona Richards, Prathia Hall, Julian Bond, Ruby Doris Robinson, Bill Hansen, Donald Harris, Matthew Jones, and Fannie Lou Hamer. While in Guinea, the delegates had the opportunity to meet with President Sekou Touré and other high level officials as well as participate in national cultural celebrations. Touré urged them to broaden their political work: "It is fundamental that you see the problem as exploitation. While you should speak to black people first of all, it is the entire community that must be liberated" (Forman 1972, 410). Many of the staff members would later reflect on the impact of the trip on their later involvement in anti-racism work. In his autobiography, James Forman wrote, "later in SNCC . . . I would recall these remarks of Sekou Touré . . . I would fight vigorously for an understanding of economic exploitation—not merely race—as part of the problems that black people faced" (1972, 410). Although the majority of delegates returned to the United States in October 1964, John Lewis and Donald Harris continued on a month long tour of Liberia, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

The second travel event was the attendance of Robert Moses and Dona Richards of the Organization of African Unity Conference in Ghana in early 1965. Following their attendance of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) conference, Dona Richards and Robert Moses, among other staffers, urged SNCC to establish a program for work in Africa.

The third travel event was the visit of Chairman Stokely Carmichael to Guinea, Tanzania and Ghana during his extensive tour of developing nations between July and August 1967. This ambitious tour included England, Cuba, China, North Vietnam, Guinea, Ghana, and Tanzania and Puerto Rico. The tour was not authorized by SNCC or the United States government, but Carmichael was recognized by the nations he visited as the Chairman of the organization. While introducing Carmichael, an Algerian official stated, "More than 20 million Afro-Americans are colonized inside the United States . . . The battle of our black brothers of America joins that of the Vietnamese, the Palestinians, the Koreans, the Angolans, the Guineese, the Mozambiquans and the Rhodesians" ("Stokely Speaks to the Peoples of the Third World" Reel 17). During the tour, he attended numerous conferences and met with various officials to exchange information and ideas. He also "portrayed Afro-American urban rebellions as part of the international socialist movement" (Carson 1995, 265). According to former International Affairs Bureau director James Forman, "[m]uch of what Stokely said while abroad was good, but his general attitude represented the zenith of an individualism that has hurt the black struggle in many quarters. His actions indicated that he was more interested in building a cult of personality rather than a strong organization" (1972, 521). Shortly after returning from the tour, Carmichael was replaced as SNCC Chairman by Hubert (H.) Rap Brown and left the organization.

The travel events further demonstrate that SNCC had a relationship with African independence movements and that travel throughout the black diaspora was important to this relationship. The cross-national diffusion model may also explain some of the travel activities because these activities involved direct exchanges between SNCC and African independence activists that resulted in an ideological shift immediately following the exchange. However, Carmichael's international tour seems to be more reflective of SNCC's transnational ideology than efforts by African independence movements to influence SNCC. It also seems that the travel activities constituted a form of diplomacy on the part of newly independent African nations. This appears to be related to changes in the international political opportunity structure that resulted from rapid decolonization during this historical period.

Figure 5: Travel Activities
Item Activity
SNCC delegation to Guinea at invitation of Harry Belafonte and Sekou Touré (smaller tour with John Lewis & Donald Harris followed for 1 month) 11 SNCC staff members traveled to Guinea, two remained afterwards and traveled extensively throughout continent
Dona Richards & Robert Moses travel to OAU conference attendance of OAU Conference in Accra, Ghana
Stokely Carmichael tours "Third World" among other developing nations; Carmichael visits Guinea, Ghana and Tanzania

In the solidarity category, the number of items increases sharply from two during the "Coming Together" (1960-1964) period to ten during the "Looking Inward" (1965-1967) period (see Figure 6). The first item during the "Coming Together" period, dated April 1963, is a letter signed by civil rights leaders (such as James Farmer of CORE, Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of the SCLC) and describes the work of the American Leadership Conference on Africa. The American Leadership Conference on Africa was apparently a coalition effort by civil rights organizations, in which SNCC participated, to oppose U.S. foreign policies that these groups believed were harmful to Africa. The second "solidarity" category item from the "Coming Together" period was a "Statement by the Consultative Council on South Africa" (Reel 45:4) dated February 1964. The Consultative Council was a coalition of organizations who worked to create a "liaison among various American [U.S.] organizations concerned about the South African crisis" (Reel 45:4). Both of the "solidarity" activities during this period were results of coalition activities that had the specific purpose of organizing support for newly independent African countries and African social movements. These activities indicate that African independence movements had a relationship with several civil rights organizations, including SNCC. Messenger organizations and other institutions indigenous to the black diaspora did not facilitate these activities. It appears that although the ideology of these organizations were focused on attaining first-class citizenship in the United States, relationships with African independence were important.

The apparently dramatic increase in the "solidarity" category from two items during the "Coming Together" phase to ten in the "Looking Inward" phase may be slightly misleading because seven of these items concern a one-week program of action organized by the Consultative Council on South Africa to commemorate an event known as the Sharpeville Massacre. In March 1960, approximately 74 black South Africans (including 40 women and 8 children) were killed and 240 were injured in Sharpeville when police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration against Pass Laws. The weeklong commemoration included events such as fundraisers, press releases and demonstrations. The press releases typically outlined SNCC's position on apartheid and U.S. investment in South Africa and reflected the organization's increasing opposition to U.S. institutions: "We demand . . . that the United States cease all trade with South Africa—although we recognize it is unlikely, because as long as profits are high, the United States will support regimes which oppress people and which exploit on the basis of race" (November 28, 1966, Reel 51:2). In New York, fourteen SNCC activists were arrested on two separate occasions during demonstrations at the South African consulate. Of the fourteen activists arrested, five received sentences of five days or $25 fines. These activities are a continuation of the work begun by the Consultative Council on South Africa and appear to reflect an attribution of similarity on the part of anti-racist civil rights organizations in the United States to anti-apartheid efforts in South Africa. It is not clear that messenger organizations or institutions indigenous to the black diaspora had a direct impact on these activities.

Another related item during the "Looking Inward" period, a statement from the Students for A Democratic Society (SDS) [8], calls for a "national anti-apartheid action" during the Commemoration Week which was organized in coalition with SNCC, CORE, and other organizations (Reel 51:2). The remaining two "solidarity" items include a "Message from Chairman Brown" to SNCC constituents requesting funds, medical supplies and skill sharing with the African National Congress and other African social movements; and the promotion of a fundraiser for the Zimbabwe African People's Union that was organized by the U.S. Student Branch of that organization. It appears that messenger organizations and an increasingly transnational ideology within SNCC were important to these activities. It seems that travel within the black Atlantic, changes in the international opportunity structure, or institutions indigenous to the African diaspora were not significant to these activities.

Figure 6: Solidarity Activities
Date Item Activity
4/20/63 Letter (w/ statement) signed by A. Philip Randolph, Dorothy Height, Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young and others solicitation of financial support for Conference work which includes "action regarding the Foreign Aid bill and the Clay and Ellender Reports, insofar as they are concerned with United States to Africa"
2/64 Statement on the Consultative Council on South Africa SNCC attended meeting of council which proposed to facilitate "liaison among various American organizations concerned about the South African crisis"
3/5/65 Statement from Paul Booth, Coordinator, Peace Research and Education Project of Students for a Democratic Society announcement that SDS w/ SNCC has called a national anti-apartheid action for March 19 "to dramatize and attack American economic support for the South African regime"
3/14-3/21/66 Flier "South African Apartheid" advertises screenings of two films about SA apartheid during "Commemoration Week" of Sharpeville
3/14-3/21/66 Press Release: 'South African Apartheid Films' from Consultative Council on South Africa announces screening of two films from SA which document struggle against apartheid; collection taken for American Committee on Africa
3/20/66 Flier "South Africa's Apartheid-A Threat to Peace" announces event at AME Church in DC during Sharpeville week featuring Tom Mboya-Minister for Economic Development in Kenya
3/24/66 News Release announces arrest of 5 SNCC staffers after 7-hour sit-in at the S.A. Consulate; bond posted by Harry Belafonte (Sharpeville); MLK denied visa to travel to SA to speak to integrated student groups w/ RFK
3/26/66 News Release announces arrests of nine more SNCC workers while waiting outside to speak to SA ambassador (Sharpeville)
3/30/66 "SNCC members arrested in Protests of Racist Government in South Africa" re-caps events in New York; describes protest in DC where 5 people were arrested while trying to present a letter to the SA ambassador; charges later dropped; includes letter from Cleveland Sellers (Sharpeville)
11/28/66 Press Release: Statement from William Hall of Harlem SNCC office (Reel 51) announces that seven people from March 1966 protest at South African Consulate and UN Mission of Sharpeville massacre were sentenced to 5 days imprisonment or $25 fine for "disorderly conduct or resisting arrest"
8/28/67 "Message from Chairman H. Rap Brown" (Reel 17:2) announces 7-point actions for individuals to support Rhodesia & Southern Africa: Learn more about struggle in S. Africa; Fundraise for ANC; Send medical supplies to ANC; attend debates re: Southern Africa at UN; learn industrial skills needed in Africa; Support SNCC & CORE; Prepare to return to Africa to fight liberation struggle
10/8/67 Letter from K.C.S. Gutu, Chairman of the Zimbabwe African People's Union (Student Branch in the US) (Reel 51:2) thank you letter to H. Rap Brown for SNCC's help in promoting fundraising dance in New York


The preceding case study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's relationship with African independence movements reveals the organization did engage in a transnational dialogic exchange of ideology and tactics with African independence movements during the 1960s. However, the extent to which the ideology and tactics of either SNCC or the African organizations and activists with whom it came into contact were transformed by this dialogue is difficult to gauge from the evidence I have collected. It is also clear that institutions indigenous to the black Atlantic played an important role in facilitating this dialogue. Historically black colleges and universities provided physical sites for face-to-face interactions between SNCC and African independence activists, while organizations arranged conferences that provided similar opportunities. In addition, "messengers"—activists and/or organizations that specifically sought to build coalitions between SNCC and various African independence movements—helped to facilitate this exchange by providing financial or educational resources or organizing events in which these interactions could occur.

It is interesting to note how various factors impacted the type of Africa-related activities in which SNCC engaged. While indigenous black institutions, messenger organizations, and an increasingly transnational ideology appeared to have a significant impact on the propositional and consciousness-raising activities, it seemed to have less impact on the travel and solidarity activities. It appears that messenger organizations and indigenous institutions may have been more significant to SNCC's relationship with anti-colonial movements in Africa, given that SNCC's interest in anti-apartheid movements remained consistent throughout its history. In addition, travel activities seemed to have the most immediate impact on the ideology of SNCC activists, indicating that travel throughout the black Atlantic can make an important impact on the ideology of anti-racist activists. It is also important to note that the organization's tactics remained consistent despite an apparently dramatic ideological shift.

Based on the evidence presented in this essay, the cross-national diffusion model is inadequate to explain exchanges of ideology and tactics within the black diaspora. The history of SNCC's relationship with African-independence indicates that constructions of racial identity are significant to any transnational exchange between anti-racist social movements. In addition, it is clear that messenger organizations and activists as well as external institutions indigenous to a racial or ethnic community play a significant role in the facilitation of this kind of exchange. Lastly, this case study of SNCC indicates that social movement organizations that are characterized as "adopters" within the cross-national diffusion model often seek to influence and participate in the very movements by which they themselves have been influenced. Therefore, I posit an alternative model to cross-national diffusion (see Figure 7) that demonstrates how messengers and indigenous black institutions contribute to transnational exchange between social movements in the African diaspora.

click to enlarge image
click to enlarge image
Figure 7

Further research could explain exactly how shifts in the international political opportunity structure (or "Empire" according to my original hypothetical model) may have affected this process. In addition, further research could illuminate the relationship of messenger organizations and activists to the black diaspora and its articulations of racial identity. An examination of the role of gender constructs in this process would also contribute to our understanding of transnational exchange between anti-racist movements in the African diaspora. Lastly, additional research may help us fully understand the causes of the decline of the relationship between anti-racist movements in the United States and Africa.

Although more research is needed to fully explore all of the hypotheses I have outlined in this essay, this preliminary case study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee indicates that there was an ongoing dialogue between black power and African Independence movements during the mid- twentieth century. In addition, this research indicates that this dialogue may have involved an exchange of ideology and tactics that ultimately affected the character of anti-racist activity that emerged from the African diaspora during this period.

Robin Hayes is currently completing a combined doctorate in African American Studies and Political Science at Yale University. After finishing her bachelor's degree in Metropolitan Studies at New York University with honors, she worked in the non-profit sector as a legal clinic supervisor for the Urban Justice Center and as national coordinator of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, which facilitates human rights delegations and material aid shipments to Chiapas, Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua. At Yale, she has served as co-founder and facilitator of the Black Resistance Reading Group and program coordinator for the Center for the Study of Race, Inequality and Politics. Her dissertation examines the mechanisms of transnational exchanges between social movements in the African diaspora. She is also producing and directing a documentary about the historical relationship between African Americans and Afro-Cubans. She can be contacted directly at


1. In my work, the term social movement refers to "collective challenges by people with common purposes and solidarity through sustained interaction with elites, opponents, and authorities" (Meyer and Staggenborg 1996).

2. Kwame Turé, who was a chairman of SNCC, changed his name from Stokely Carmichael in 1978 after moving to Guinea from the United States. He is referred to in this paper as both Kwame Turé and Stokely Carmichael.

3. Throughout this paper, the terms "racist" and "racism" refer to various means of racial oppression suffered by people of African descent that are inflicted by people of European descent. The organizations I am researching perceived themselves as "anti-racist" in this regard, and I am using the term in that context.

4. In this sense, the text is similar to Johnson, Sterling. 1998. Black Globalism: The International Politics of a Non-State Nation. Aldershot: Ashgate and the discussion of black diaspora in Robinson, Cedric J. (2000) [1983]. Black Marxism: the Making of a Black Radical Tradition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina.

5. Although several scholars criticize the conflation of the terms African diaspora and "black Atlantic", I use these terms interchangeably in my essay (see Carlton Wilson's "Conceptualizing the African Diaspora" at Some scholars reject the term "black Atlantic" because it only describes the involuntary dispersal of people of African descent which resulted from the Atlantic slave trade, and obscures the long history of voluntary migration of African peoples that predated the slave trade. However, my work's concern with connections between communities in the African diaspora focuses on these communities' interest in reconciling the cultural, political, and economic wounds that they believe were caused by the trauma of slavery. Therefore, I use the terms African diaspora and black Atlantic to describe communities that were formed as a result of the transatlantic slave trade.

6. After 1965, SNCC continued to publish newsletters on a much more sporadic basis due to a decline in funding. These newsletters are not included in the microfilm collection of the SNCC Papers.

7. It is important to note that SNCC, as a youth movement, was particularly vulnerable to the flight of its volunteers and workers, who were earning below poverty-level wages for their participation.

8. SDS was a social movement organization engaged in extra-institutional nonviolent direct action to organize opposition to the Vietnam War during the 1960s.

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