The Mississippi freedom movement led by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (1961-1965) was the most promising example of powerful grassroots democracy in U.S. history. This, the first of two lectures on the Mississippi movement, focuses on how Bob Moses led SNCC to build a strong voting rights campaign in the most dangerous Deep South state, where white supremacists saw Black voting as incendiary. SNCC’s secret weapon was to nurture relationships with seasoned local organizers, poor farmers and sharecroppers, and rebellious teenagers, emboldening them to fight for their rights.
Activist historian Stewart Burns, is the only major Martin Luther King Jr. biographer who participated in the Black Freedom Movement, including the 1963 March on Washington. His background includes many years of nonviolent activism organizing for justice and peace that has been enlightened by thirty years studying Dr. King’s leadership and the Black Movement. From forming a high school civil rights committee, to organizing anti-Vietnam War protests and resisting the draft, to protesting nuclear power and first-strike nuclear weapons, to fostering interracial communication at Stanford, Williams, and other colleges, he has devoted his life to teaching and practicing Kingian “soul force.” Dr. Burns is Professor and Chair of Ethical & Creative Leadership, as well as Faculty in Martin Luther King Jr. Studies at Union Institute & University's Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program.