The Ella Baker Tour and Retreat, sponsored by the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN), is inspiring a wave of intergenerational dialogue and cooperation between veterans of the Civil Rights Movement and a new generation of social justice activists. The SARN website explains the tour’s origins this way:
Social change movements led by people of African descent in the U.S. are experiencing a loss of continuity and collaboration between young and elder activists. Cross-generational conversations are spiced with blame for the conditions we face today. Particularly, the number of black people in prison, conditions in public schools and disparities in access to health care beg the question about gains from Brown vs. Board of Education, affirmative action and the end to legal segregation. At the 75th Anniversary of Highlander Research and Education Center, a gathering of SNCC veterans and young activists embraced the idea of the Ella Baker-SNCC Tour and Retreat.
Over the past nine months, veteran members of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) have visited college campuses in Tennessee, North Carolina, and New Jersey, where they’ve heard from youth activists about their current organizing projects. The SNCC elders’ listening and mentoring tour makes its way to Durham, NC, next week.
Here are the details from SARN’s announcement:
Tuesday, Oct.14 – The Know Bookstore, 2520 Fayetteville Street, 6:00-7:30pm
Wednesday, Oct.15 – NCCU Law School-Great Hall, 11:30am-2:00pm
Thursday, Oct.16 – Duke University, White Auditorium (East Campus), 4:30-7:00pm
Friday, Oct.17 – Union Baptist Church, 904 N. Roxboro Street, 4:00-6:00pm
Participating Civil Rights Veterans
Annie Pearl Townsend-Avery
The University of North Carolina Press has published an excellent biography of Ella Baker, an NAACP organizer who was also a political advisor to SNCC in the 1960s. The multiple-award-winning Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision, by Barbara Ransby, is available in hardcover and paperback. Cornel West called it “a magisterial rendering of one of the greatest radical Democrats in the twentieth century.”
For an intimate history of SNCC, check out Wesley Hogan’s book Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC’s Dream for a New America. Also an award-winner, this book has won praise from the old guard activists and the new. Adrienne Maree Brown, executive director of The Ruckus Society, says, “Hogan has written a deep and comprehensive history of SNCC that will hopefully spark the conversation on how we learn from our elders and continue to evolve the lessons learned then for those who fight for freedom today.”
That’s just the kind of conversation that will be taking place next week in Durham. May the conversations continue and may we all work toward justice.