You Can Help: SNCC, the Friends of SNCC and the Struggle for Black Freedom


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




This dissertation is the first book-length study of the Friends of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (FOS). As SNCC expanded, it relied on support from the northern FOS to sustain its growth. In return, the FOS learned protest tactics and political ideology by working with southern activists that they then used as a template for racial justice work throughout the North. Both SNCC and FOS demonstrate that regional movements were unfolding in a mutually constitutive fashion. Using innovative community-based archival practices, this project reveals that the FOS acted as a conduit between the North and South, resulting in a movement infrastructure that facilitated the exchange of money, personnel, information, and political ideology—all essential for building and sustaining the Civil Rights Movement. Equally important, as the FOS casted its support for Black freedom as friendship, a precursor to today’s “ally,” this dissertation examines notions of friendship as well as the potential and limitations of multicultural liberalism.