How Long? How Long?: African American Women and the Struggle for Civil Rights

By Belinda Robnett | Go to book overview

TEN
The Movement Unravels From the Bottom

Primary Formal Leaders, Compromise, and Disillusionment

The events at the Democratic National Convention were to have profound consequences for the future of the civil rights movement and for the Black struggle in general. They signaled the beginning of the deterioration of movement solidarity. Although relations had always been strained, the disillusionment of those in the lower ranks, as well as among many SNCC and CORE activists, particularly those working in Mississippi, led to a fractured movement and the loss of its bridging tiers.

In his autobiography, Cleve Sellers describes the beginning of the movement's descent:

The national Democratic party's rejection of the MFDP at the 1964 convention was
to the civil rights movement what the Civil War was to American history: afterward,
things could never be the same. Never again were we lulled into believing that our
task was exposing injustices so that the "good" people of America could eliminate them. We left Atlantic City with the knowledge that the movement had turned into something else. After Atlantic City, our struggle was not for civil rights, but for liberation. 1

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