SNCC: The New Abolitionists

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

This book is not, the author would have us know, a history of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee "in any formal sense. it leaves out too much for that." Perhaps it does, but what has certainly not been left out is a sense of the historical value of what a mere 150 fully committed young men and women, Negro and white, with a few thousand part-time supporters, are accomplishing today in ... Read full review

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This is an engaging, galvanizing, and revealing work on the Student Nonviolent Co-ordinating Committee. Zinn claims in the preface that it's not a complete history; it's not that, nor is it impartial. Zinn was himself there, sweating with the marchers, listening to Fannie Lou Hamer, and shaking with indignation at the segregationists. He describes SNCC mission and connects it to broader concurrent social movements. He argues the merits of nonviolence, the necessity of black-white unity, and for intervention by the Federal government. You learn about the Freedom Rides, Freedom Summer, McComb, and lots of everything else in between.
Here are the three biggest things I take away from reading it:
-SNCC was revolutionary, effective, and flexible because it was not dogmatic and doctrinal. The students believed in racial equality, social justice, and nonviolence, but they didn't have a manifesto or party allegiances.
-Our collegiate education system back then and now is archaic and out of touch with the real world. Is it something I need to participate in?
-How "nonviolent" was the CRM if one of their main goals was to provoke the Federal government to use force to uphold civil rights law?

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