Help Tell the Story

What is your story? When did you first hear about NSM? What inspired you to join? What questions should we be asking to enrich our understanding of the history of the Movement?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Role of White Activists in Movements for Racial Equality

"To many, the idea of white activists taking leadership and doing anti-racist organizing in white communities is a theoretical notion. However, the work of People Against Racism and People for Human Rights provides concrete examples of white anti-racist organizing."

In this paper, "The Role of White Activists in Movements for Racial Equality", written in 2008, Ted Cullinane discusses People Against Racism (PAR), in Detroit, and People for Human Rights (PHR), in Philadelphia, both offshoots of NSM.

Link to Ted Cullinane paper

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Story of Freedom North

[T]he more I have thought about our past, the more excited I have become over its significance because... Before the Panthers, there was NSM. Before SNCC´s Atlanta project and before Stokely´s media-generated hysteria over "Black Power," there was NSM. Before all of these more recognized historical events, NSM had already initiated a race-conscious strategy to confront american racism.In fact Detroit NSM had formed probably the first
really constructive white organization to combat the monster: PAR,People Against Racism.

What I´ve come to realize is that the NSM story is not just our story. Rather it´s the story of urban organizing in the North...It´s the history of Bayard´s school boycott and the struggle against the racist NY teachers union under Al Shanker and the resultant community strugggle of Ocean Hill-Brownsville.It´s Julius Hobson in DC; the NAACP radical [Cecil Moore) in Philadelphia; and … Stanley Branche in Chester,Pa.  It´s the story of Jesse Gray´s rent strikes, Adam Clayton Powell´s first Black Power conference and of Malcolm´s last years.

Thus NSM is a window on this larger, neglected story of black struggle, the story of Freedom North,the other civil rights movement.It´s the missing chapter of the national struggle without which the history is not whole.

William Strickland
Executive Director, NSM

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Abstract: from ASALH conference, Raleigh, September 2010

Freedom North: The Northern Student Movement
The Northern Student Movement (NSM) emerged out of the wave of southern sit-ins during the early 1960s. It supported civil rights efforts in the South as well as developed programs to address northern racial injustice.  Early on, the NSM mobilized student support for the southern struggle. It raised money for the Southern Voter Registration Program of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as organized book donations to Southern colleges.  Peter Countryman, a Yale undergraduate, who had been the first executive director of the NSM, with headquarters originally in New Haven, Connecticut, stepped down in 1966. The NSM headquarters shifted from New Haven to New York City and William Strickland, a longtime activist replaced Countryman as executive director. With NSM veterans Bill Strickland as well as two other participants which represent the arc of the life of the NSM, Joan Countryman, the widow of Peter Countryman, and finally Frank Joyce, head of the Detroit chapter of NSM, which evolved into People Against Racism (PAR), one of the most significant white antiracist groups in the country.  The panel will talk about how NSM came into being as the Northern model for SNCC among other things and how some of its activities to work with SNCC, specifically its collaboration with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party's (MFDP), when NSM arranged a meeting between Malcolm X and Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer when she came to Harlem. 

Here's a link to more information:

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Invitation

We invite you to join us in recording, remembering, and reflecting on the experience of those who joined the Northern Student Movement in the 1960s. The history of NSM is yet to be written. As with the Southern Movement, the stories can best be told by those who experienced them. What is your story? When did you join NSM? What projects did you work on, and where? What inspired you to take on the challenges of race, class, and justice in the North? What impact has NSM had  on your life and work since the 1960s? What do you want to see about NSM in the history books of the future?

We are taking a cue from the web site of the Veterans of the Southern Freedom Movement from 1951 - 1968,

"The mass media called it the "Civil Rights Movement," but many of us who were involved in it prefer the term "Freedom Movement" because it was about so much more than just civil rights.
Today, from what you see in the mass media and read in textbooks and websites, you would think that the Freedom Movement only existed in a few states of the deep South, — but that is not so. The Freedom Movement lived and fought in every state and every city of America, North, South, East, and West. There were some differences between the Southern and Northern wings of the Movement, but those differences were minor compared to the Movement's essence. North or South, it was the same movement everywhere.
This website is devoted to the "Southern Freedom Movement," the Freedom Movement as it existed in the South. Not because the Northern wing of the Movement was unimportant — it was enormously important, — but because the Southern Movement was the part of the Movement that we participated in and know enough about to build this website. Hopefully, some day soon activists from the Northern wing of the Movement will do the same."