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Section 4: Rights and protest

Read sources M to P below and answer questions 13 to 16 in the accompanying


question paper. The sources and questions relate to case study 1: the civil rights
movement in the United States (19541965) Key groups: Student Non-violent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Source M Charles Sherrod was twenty-two when he went to Albany, Georgia


in 1961 to work as a SNCC organizer. Untitled and undated
account, Sherrod wrote a year or two later. Quoted in The Eyes
on the Prize Civil Rights Reader, Clayborne Carson, ed., 1991.

The population of Albany was in the first days of our stay here, very apprehensive.
We had told
many that our intention was to organize a voter-registration campaign, the first step
of which
was to establish an office The first obstacle to remove was the mental block in the
minds of
those who wanted to move but were unable for fear that we were not who we said we
were.
But when people began to hear us in churches, social meetings, on the streets, in the
pool halls,
lunchrooms, nightclubs, and other places where people gather, they began to open us
a bit
We explained to them that we had stopped school because we felt compelled to do so
since so
many of us were in chains. We explained further that there were worse chains than
jail and
prison. We referred to the system that imprisons mens minds and robs them of
creativity. We
mocked the system that teaches men to be good Negroes instead of good men.

Source N Excerpt from Aint Scared of Your Jails (1960-61) chapter


introduction by
Clayborne Carson, in The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader,
1991. Carson is a professor of history at Stanford University and
director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education
Institute.

The increasing confidence of the student activists was evident in a new organization,
the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and in a new wave of
protests called Freedom Rides.

The formation of SNCC followed the sit-ins by only a few months and not only
solidified student involvement in the movement but placed students in leadership
roles Influenced by James Lawson, a divinity student at Vanderbilt University with a
philosophical commitment to nonviolent direct action, the students began to develop
an organization that would channel their concerns and energy. What emerged was a
coordinating committee that operated independently of other established civil rights
organizations and relied on strong local leadership. The formation of SNCC helped
transform the student movement from one that emphasized small-scale protests to a
sustained force that would challenge racism throughout American society.

Source O Freedom Day in Selma, Alabama, Oct. 7, 1963. SNCC members


arrested. Photo by photojournalist John Kouns.

Source P Judge Elliott Refuses U.S. Request to Restrain Terrell County Law
Officer Threats,
Aug 15, 1962, Atlanta Daily World. The Atlanta Daily World was an
African-American based in Atlanta, Georgia.
A federal judge Tuesday turned down a Justice Department request for a temporary
restraining order barring law enforcement officers from threatening prospective Negro voters.
Justice Department attorneys went before Judge Robert Elliott Monday to accuse two Georgia
sheriffs of disrupting two Negro voter registration meetings The government also had asked
Elliott to halt prosecution of two representatives of the pro-integration Student Non-Violent
Coordinating Committee, SNCC.The SNCC representatives were arrested on vagrancy
[homeless] charges when they accompanied a group of Negroes who sought to register to vote
at the courthouse in Dawson, Georgia
The government charged that Sherriff Mathews and others disrupted two voter registration
meetings recently in Sasser at Negro Baptist churches. The government complaint said a group
of white men barged into one of the meetings and threatened Negroes with physical harm. It
asked that the defendants be forbidden to intimidate prospective voters by disrupting
meetings, threatening violence, discharging Negro employees or committing violence. In
turning down the request for the restraining order, Elliott said that persons registering now
could not in any event vote in the forthcoming election.
Elliott is the federal judge who heard the City of Albanys request for a court order which
would restrain Negroes from staging anti-segregation demonstrations. He now has that case
under advisement.

Section 4: Rights and protest


Question Paper

13. (a) What, according to Source P, was the Justice Department asking Judge Terrell to
do? [3]

(b) What is the message conveyed by Source O? [2]

14. With reference to its origin, purpose and content, analyse the value and limitations of
Source P for an historian studying the challenges faced by SNCC and the US Justice
Department. [4]

15. Compare and contrast what Sources M and N reveal about SNCCs activities. [6]

16. Using the sources and your own knowledge, evaluate the role SNCC played in the Civil
Rights Movement in the early 1960s. [9]