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In Struggle : SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s Paperback – May 3, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0674447271 ISBN-10: 0674447271 Edition: Second Printing

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Second Printing edition (May 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674447271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674447271
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


In Clayborne Carson SNCC has at last found a scholar capable of probing its radical and fractious nature in a manner both sympathetic and prudently critical ... Students of social protest will be deeply in the author's debt for years to come. (Francis M. Wilnoit American Historical Review)

To anyone who would understand SNCC, this is an essential book. (James Polk Newsday)

Not only an important contribution to the history of the struggle for civil rights; it also enlarges our general understanding of contemporary politics and culture. (Abigail Thernstrom New Republic)

This splendid history of SNCC has successfully captured the dynamic interplay of two parallel but contradictory elements ... This is a well-researched, balanced, and analytical assessment of the history of a primarily black student activist group that, with all its failings, made its special contribution to the political awakening of American blacks and to the changing of American institutions and practices. (Abraham Holtzman American Political Science Review)

About the Author

Clayborne Carson is Professor of History at Stanford University and Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline Moore on January 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book traces the rise and fall of SNCC:the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. At the time Carson wrote it, it was one of the few books on the Civil Rights Movement that didn't focus on Martin Luther King and SCLC, and as such provided a welcome addition, even corrective, to the mainstream narrative of the movement. It is also a brilliant analysis of the dynamics of a reform movement and the tensions between leader centered and group centered styles of leadership. The analysis of Bob Moses and his approach to grass roots empowerment is right on target and provides a whole new way for thinking about Freedom Summer and organizing in Mississippi. This book is not for the fainthearted--its academic prose is dense at times and details can be a little confusing for those unfamiliar with SNCC personnel, hence four stars and not five. Nonetheless, it's worth taking time with, and I assign this book regularly for upper level directed studies and recommend it to students for research papers. Whether or not SNCC's achievements were compromised by the antics of former members in the 80s and 90s, Carson's book is a great analysis of its formation, tactics, and dissolution.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Carpenter on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a great account of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, which was started in 1960 in regard to Segregation on Americas buses and in the Woolworth dining room. This book leaves out no account, and anyone who had anything to do with the movement and SNCC is mentioned in this book. Carson went all out, and I think this book should be required reading in every Civil Rights History course.
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In Struggle gives a very rationalistic view and accurate story of the SNCC. You can understand the wins and the fails of SNCC policies throughout the book and understand why has not continued. You learn to favor certain leader rather than others because of the factions withing the SNCC. Sometimes I felt like telling the SNCC "Don't do that, your abandoning your old Ghandian principles that made you strong!"

So I'm glad I read this book even though I had to do it for an assignment. It's a good read, and I suggest it to those who like to study about the young black militancy spirit of the 1960's.
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This book shows leaders of SNCC like H. Rap Brown and Stokely Carmichael and their context in the Black Power movement. It shows SNCC from a lunch counter protesting because of boredom until H. Rap Brown's arrest and the end of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
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More About the Author

I am a historian who teaches at Stanford University, where I also serve as founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. My latest book -- Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- is a memoir of my experiences during the half century since I attended the 1963 March on Washington.

The late Mrs. Coretta Scott King selected me in 1985 to edit and publish the papers of her late husband and, since then, I have devoted most of my professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under my direction, the King Papers Project, a component of the King Institute, has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. I have also edited numerous other books based on King's papers.

A member of Stanford's department of history since receiving my doctorate from UCLA in 1975, I have also served as visiting professor or visiting fellow at American University, the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where during 2009 I was Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of that institution's King Collection.

My writings reflect not only my research about King but also my undergraduate civil rights and antiwar activism, which led me to appreciate the importance of grassroots political activity as well as visionary leadership in the African-American freedom struggle. My first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, published in 1981, is a study of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most dynamic and innovative civil rights organization. In Struggle won the Organization of American Historians' Frederick Jackson Turner Award. My other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). I also co-authored African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.

In addition to The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., my other works based on the papers include The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from the King's autobiographical writings, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001).

My writings also include a play, "Passages of Martin Luther King," which was initially produced by Stanford's Drama Department in 1993, and subsequently performed at Dartmouth College, Willamette University, the Claremont Colleges, the University of Washington, Tacoma, St. Petersburg, and other places. On June 21, 2007, the National Theatre of China performed the international premiere of "Passages" at the Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre, and full houses viewed the four subsequent performances of the first drama to bring together Chinese actors and African-American gospel singers. During March and April 2011, the Palestinian National Theater "Al Hakawati" presented the first Arabic production of "Passages" in East Jerusalem, with additional performances in the West Bank communities of Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Ramallah.

In addition to my books and scholarly writings publications, I have tried to bring my research and King's ideas to broader public attention. I was a senior historical advisor for a fourteen-part, award-winning, public television series on the civil rights movement entitled "Eyes on the Prize" and co-edited the Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (1991). In addition, I served as historical advisor for "Freedom on My Mind," which was nominated for an Oscar in 1995, as well as for "Chicano!" (1996), "Blacks and Jews" (1997), "Citizen King" (2004), "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power" (2005), and "Have You Heard from Johannesburg?" (2010) a multipart documentary about the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

I collaborated with the Roma Design Group of San Francisco to create the winning proposal in an international competition to design the King National Memorial in Washington, D. C., and I have served as an advisor to the King National Memorial Foundation.

In my various roles, I travel throughout the world. In addition to many European nations, I have been to China (three times), India (twice), Israel and the West Bank (four times), Kenya, Zanzibar, Tanzania, South Africa, Senegal, Morocco, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, and a number of Caribbean islands.