Activism and strain on organizations


in History, Politics, Psychology

Using credentials borrowed from sympathetic delegates from other states,a contingent of MFDP [Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party] members gained access to the [1964 Democratic National] convention floor and staged a sit-in in the Mississippi section. The sight of black Mississipians being carried from the convention floor by uniformed, white security officers was but the ultimate ironic denouement to Freedom Summer.

The convention challenge represented the high-water mark for SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee]. The challenge capped what had been an exhilerating but enormously draining and ultimately debilitating summer for the organization. It was not just that the staff was exhausted from months of nonstop effort, or that the challenge itself had failed. From the outset, James Forman and others in SNCC’s inner circle had cautioned that the chances of the challenge succeeding were slim. Instead the effects of the summer cut to the very heart of the organization, calling into question its raison d’être and undermining the very philosophy on which it had been based. The principal components of this philosophy were nonviolence, integration, and an existential politics of moral suasion. There had always been opposition to each of these tenets within SNCC. But consensus within the organization continued to favor all three up to and during the Summer Project. The effect of the project, however, was to destroy this consensus once and for all. All three of these fundamental organizing principles came under increasing attack.

McAdam, Doug. Freedom Summer. Oxford University Press; Oxford. 1988. p. 120–1

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