The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) mourns the passing of James Forman, a pioneer for civil rights and former executive secretary of the revolutionary organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Forman died on January 10th in Washington, D.C.
NAACP Board Chairman, Julian Bond said, "He imbued the organization with camaraderie and collegiality that I've never seen in any organization before or since." Bond served as SNCC's communications director during Forman's tenure.
During the Civil Rights Movement, Forman was instrumental in securing SNCC a spot amongst the powerful group of civil rights organizations known as the Big Five. These groups included the NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Congress of Racial Equality and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Graduating with honors from high school in 1947, Forman went on to serve in the Air force during the Korean War. Upon joining SNCC in 1961, Forman was soon appointed executive secretary.
In 1964, Forman brought nearly one thousand young volunteers, with various ethnicities, together to register voters, set up freedom schools, establish community centers and build the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Among these volunteers were Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, who were later murdered in Mississippi by white racists.
Known for being a leader in the fight for reparations, Forman interrupted a service at the Riverside Church in New York City in 1969 and demanded $500 million in reparations from white churches to make up for the injustices African Americans had suffered over centuries.
Forman authored several books and in 1981 moved to Washington D.C. where he started the Washington Times newspaper. His legacy is imbedded in the organizations he formed including the Black American News Service, Black Economic Development Conference, and the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee.
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