SNCC and BYP 100

Today’s topic will be about two organizations that are nearly 50 years apart in their inception, but have some similarities in their movements and structure.

SNCC (often pronounced “snick”) or the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a group that emerged from a student meeting at Shaw University led by Ella Baker. The first chairman of the organization was the late Marion Barry who went on to be the Mayor of Washington DC and passed away this past November. Other notable people from Black History served as the chairman of SNCC throughout it’s existence. Those included were John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, and H. Rap Brown.

The organization was started from an $800 grant from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), but was it’s own organization. James Forman explains in the video below what SNCC wanted to be and achieve.

SNCC was one of the driving forces behind campaigns such as Freedom Summer, the March on Washington, and Voting Rights. During the march from Selma to Montgomery, SNCC was there being led by the current chairman at the time, John Lewis. SNCC members were some of the people jailed, hosed down, trampled, and beaten.

SNCC carried on after the Voting Rights Act was passed, but so many of the members were becoming more disillusioned with the idea that the government would protect their rights to protest and some members started to believe that non-violence was not the answer so the group eventually disbanded in the early 1970s. The last leader of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, was one of the people that championed the call for Black Power and spoke at a conference at Berkeley in 1966 which helped lead into the Black Panther Party movement.

Jumping forward 45 years I bring you the Black Youth Project, and more specifically BYP100. BYP100 is a grassroots movement being led by incredibly inspirational people like Charlene A. Carruthers. Carruthers, who was born and bred in Chicago, came to be the National Director of BYP100 after she led multiple campaigns with organizations like the Center for Community Change, the Women’s Media Center, ColorOfChange.org and National People’s Action. Basically, she is one of the coolest women ever.

BYP100 itself has stepped out to be one of the organizations that has been leading this movement. It formed in July of 2013 after the Trayvon Martin verdict.

BYP100 is focused on the broad goal of ending the criminalization of Black youth in America. This includes all Black youth whether they are gay, lesbian, straight, trans-gender, cis-gender, bi-sexual, or queer. All. Their mission is as follows:

“We train young Black activists in direct action grassroots organizing skills, so they can build the power we need to transform our communities. We mobilize young Black leaders on issues including ending criminalization and dismantling the prison industrial complex, expanding and securing LGBT and women’s rights. We run campaigns using on the ground and digital tactics towards the goal of ending the criminalization of Black youth, racial profiling and police brutality.”

Their campaigns are being run out of chapters in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, and the Bay Area. They are empowering youth to use their voice, their skills, and their power to protest. They are teaching youth to be the change. And it is incredible to watch.

These two organizations are different, of course, but what strikes me the most is that they are organized and ran by youth and young professionals. Each organization did and is using it’s voice to speak up and show it’s solidarity to the movement and what’s right. Amazing stuff here. Please take a look at the links throughout this post for more information.

Here are a few other links for your reference regarding SNCC:

http://www.crmvet.org/docs/orgsdocs.htm#docssncc
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/index.html
http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/sncc
http://zinnedproject.org/materials/sncc/

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