The Corner

Eric Holder’s SNCC Speech

Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech at the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s 50th anniversary conference.  He recounted and praised SNCC’s role in the lunch-counter sit-ins and freedom rides during the early days of the civil-rights movement, but his history ends early:  There is no mention of SNCC becoming increasingly radical (embracing Black Power and expelling its white staff members and volunteers) and, ultimately, rejecting nonviolence, with Stokely Carmichael replacing John Lewis as its head, and with H. Rap Brown succeeding Carmichael when the latter left to join the Black Panthers. (Brown, who also became a Black Panther and is now in prison for murder, changed the “N” in SNCC from “Nonviolent” to “National.”)  I think it is also fair to say that Holder’s speech sees the civil-rights glass today as half-empty rather than 15/16ths full.


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