Interview with Cleveland Sellers

September '64, you had SNCC members going to Africa. And I want to talk about the connections that were going on between, uh, domestic issues and international issues.


Okay, ah, most of us being college students, co- had come in contact with a number of students from the African continent. After independence of the French colonies in Africa and Ghana, etc., many of the countries sent African students to the U.S.A. and, and studied in predominately Black college campuses. Inside of SNCC we were, we were conscious of the independent movement in, in Africa. And we also adopted the phrase, "One man, one vote," from the effort in Ghana. And so it was just a kind of logical extension for us to begin to, to continue to identify with Africa and independence movements in Africa. And in the fall of 1964, ah, a number of, of persons representing SNCC including Miss Fannie Lou Hamer had an opportunity to go to Africa and visit Ghana and Guinea and a number of other places on the continent. Um, when they went, what they begin to see was, they began to see Blacks operating governments, Blacks operating airplanes, Blacks being chief of police, Blacks in very responsible positions. And so it began to generate in the minds of many of those people the whole question of if that could happen in Africa then why couldn't that happen in the United States where Blacks could ascend to these positions of power and authority and responsibility. So it began to have a fundamental impact on how we saw um, our struggle in terms of we needed to move it beyond talking about the ah, the acquisition of a Coka-Cola. We saw it as a political struggle that needed to begin to raise the question of, of registering to vote, and not only that the empowerment of Black people in America.