Sisters in the Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement

By Bettye Collier-Thomas; V. P. Franklin | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Black Women and Black Power
The Case of Ruby Doris Smith Robinson and the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Cynthia Griggs Fleming

In June 1966, James Meredith, the first black student ever to enroll at the University of Mississippi, began his historic march against fear across the state of Mississippi. Just a few days after the march began, Meredith was shot by a sniper and had to be hospitalized. The leaders of the major civil rights organizations—the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—all decided to send representatives to continue the march. As the marchers made their way across the state, they were greeted by enthusiastic crowds of black Mississippians who voiced their encouragement as the marchers passed. But mixed in with the shouts of encouragement was an undertone of frustration. Like so many others, black Mississippians had heard government promises of better conditions. Yet it seemed that their lives had not changed. Most were tired of waiting and they made their impatience known.


Black Power Emerges

Many members of SNCC who had been working for these changes mirrored the crowd's impatience and frustration. It was in that atmosphere that the cry of Black Power first surfaced. It all started when the marchers arrived in Greenwood on June 16. Stokley Carmichael,

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