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Eyes on the Prize
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Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

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SNCC staff sit-in, Atlanta, Georgia, 1963.

Students involved in nonviolent civil rights sit-ins formed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. SNCC focused more on grassroots organizing than another civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Among its activities SNCC formed a musical group, the Freedom Singers, that helped inspire and raise funds for the movement (one of its members, Bernice Johnson Reagon, would later found the group Sweet Honey in the Rock).

In addition to participating in protests, SNCC members registered black voters in the rural South, including the 1964 "Freedom Summer" campaign in Mississippi. That year SNCC formed the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to challenge the state's all-white delegation at the party's Atlantic City convention. SNCC member and MFDP founder Unita Blackwell was arrested some 70 times during the voter registration effort. Later in life, she would become mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi, and address the 1984 Democratic Convention.

SNCC also helped organize the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in Alabama. That group later inspired the Black Panther Party. And SNCC's Stokely Carmichael, Willie Ricks, Ruby Doris Robinson, Cleveland Sellers and H. Rap Brown launched the "Black Power" slogan, paving the way for a new phase of the freedom movement.

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