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“I Want to Be Your Friend, You Black Idiot!!”: The Dynamics of Majority Involvement in Minority Movements

A Symposium for Students

Enjoy audio files from this event.

Charles M. Payne, Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor

May 26, 6 p.m., in room WIV
Screening of the documentary, Freedom on My Mind

May 27, 12 noon - 2 pm
Race and The New Left of the Sixties

May 28, 12 noon - 2 pm
White in a Black Movement: Freedom Summer in Retrospect

May 28, 4-6 pm
Black Power: Reflections on a Historical Moment with reception/discussion to follow

Location: School of Social Service Administration, 969 E. 60th Street, Room E1 unless otherwise noted

This two-day symposium will examine the dynamics of interracial relationships in the contexts of some of the movements for social justice that characterized the 1960s as a means to prod us to think about parallel issues in our lives. It will consist of lectures, panels and small group discussions. The title is taken from Sally Belfrage’s Freedom Summer. Belfrage, herself a white volunteer in the Mississippi freedom struggle that summer, offers that phrase as capturing the frustration of her fellow white volunteers, some of whom felt they were being rejected by parts of the Black communities they were trying to help. It reflects the major theme of the symposium, the social dynamics involved when members of a socially privileged group attempt to work in marginalized communities—whites in non-white communities, middle-class people in poor communities, men in feminist organizations and so on. There will be panels or discussions on the dynamics of race in the group: Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), on being white in the civil rights movement, on relations between Northern and Southern blacks within the movement, and on Black Power.

Howard Machtinger, Students for a Democratic Society and Weathermen
Fannie Rushing, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, (SNCC), Chicago Friends of SNCC
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, SNCC
Susan Thrasher, SNCC
Bob Zellner, SNCC

Reading List:
** indicates core readings. Those not familiar with the history of Freedom Summer, might want to see the documentary, Freedom on My Mind, on reserve in the SSA library.  There will be a screening of the film on Tuesday, May 26th at 6 p.m., in room WIV, SSA.   For an overview on the civil rights movement in the early sixties, see Charles Payne, “Debating the Civil Rights Movement: The View From the Trenches”.

May 27, 12 noon - 2 pm
Race and The New Left of the Sixties
** Howard Machtinger, “So You Say You Want a Revolution?”
** Howard Machtinger, The New Left Reaction To The Black Movement

May 28, 12 noon - 2 pm
White in a Black Movement: Freedom Summer in Retrospect
Charlie Cobb, “Organizing Freedom Schools”
Zoharah Simmons, “A Little Memphis Girl Comes of Age in the Freedom Movement.”
** Susan Thrasher, “Circle of Trust,” from Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women Talk about the Civil Rights Movement
Penny Patch, “Sweet Tea at Shoney’s” from Deep in Our Hearts
Casey Hayden, “Fields of Blue,” from Deep in Our Hearts
** Robert Zellner, The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, chapters 16, 17, 20, 21
Charles Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom, chapter 5

May 28, 4-6 pm
Black Power: Reflections on an Historical Moment

Reception/discussion  to follow.
** “The Atlanta Project Position Paper on Race”
** Gary T. Marx and Michael Useem, “Majority Involvement in Minority Movements: Civil Rights, Abolition and Untouchability”
** Fannie Rushing, “Minds Still Stayed on Freedom?: Reflections on Politics, Consensus and Pedagogy in the African-American Freedom Struggle.”
Cleveland Sellers, River of No Return: Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC, chapter tba
James Forman, Making of Black Revolutionaries, chapter tba
Ernie Allen, “Dying from the Inside Out: The Decline of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers”
Stokely Carmichael, Ready for Revolution, chapters 18 and 19

Co-sponsors: The African and African American Students Association, SSA, Carter G. Woodson Institute of the Urban Education Initiative; The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture; The Diversity Committee and Office of the Dean of Students, SSA; F.I.E.R.C.E. (Fabulous Intellectuals Embracing Respect, Consciousness and Empowerment); Organization of Black Students; The University of Chicago Human Rights Program.

This symposium is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please register here:

Charles M. Payne

Charles M. Payne