Interview with Courtland Cox
QUESTION 5
INTERVIEWER:

CAN YOU TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT ANY FACTIONALISM IN SNCC IN TERMS OF FOLKS WHO WERE INTERESTED IN DIRECT ACTION AN…

Courtland Cox:

Well I think that there have always been some factionalism in SNCC. I think the, the, the factionalism centered on the question of methodology but I think probably centered on also the question of philosophy. I think those people who were for reform and some sort of ordered and limited change probably supported much more the voter registration view because that was action that fed into a lot of agendas that people had. The first agenda would be to, to, broaden the base of the Democratic Party in the South because they felt that if blacks were registered to vote, you know, they would vote Democratic so you would have a broader base in terms of the Democratic Party. I think the other thing, the other agenda was that if you, blacks voted in the South, then you could get rid of or cause pressure on the Dixiecrats. Remember the, you had those, the Republican-Dixiecratic coalition blocking a lot of the legislation within the, within the Congress and a lot of the most powerful people were chairpersons of the ah, of the ah, of the Congress were from the south so therefore it was important that you ah had some political motion that could challenge them and I think you had on that, oh, question of Democratic rights, the right to vote and all those kinds of things, so that it was you know a number of agendas fed. Ah, I think then the other thrust was the direct action thrust which really said this country is wrong, it's fundamentally wrong and we have to go at the heart of segregation and you had the whole religious, philosophical question of trying to change an unjust society. An uncompromising stand, the preparation to go into Mississippi and Alabama into the worst places so that, so that I think although, although on the surface it looked like ah a difference in terms of method, that is to say whether you wanted voter registration against direct ac—against direct action, I think one ultimately fed a reformist agenda; the other I wouldn't say call it revolutionary but it was something that, that wanted to, to, to turn things upside down. More philosophical, more religious, and more talking about injustices as opposed to, you know, other kinds of agendas.