SNCC Freedom School Course 
Securing the Ballot
SNCC, MFDP,  Political Power, and the Meaning of the Right to Vote in Freedom Summer
Summer 2024
(3 days a week for 3 weeks)

Week 1: July 16, 17, 18
Week 2: July 23, 24, 25
Week 3: July 30, 31 and August 1

Course Time: 6:00 pm-7:45 pm
Doors Open at 5:30 pm

Registration Fees: $0.00
Register to attend online
Register to attend in person at The People's Forum - 320 West 37th St, New York, NY

*Registrants will receive the syllabus and readings upon registration. This course is an opportunity to study, learn, and be in community together and we expect participants to read and engage in the course sessions whether one or all.
About the Course

As early as 1868, political organizers realized the power of Black electoral politics and its potential impact to determine political outcomes in the United States. For almost one hundred years, that realization led to large-scale attempts to suppress the Black vote. To forestall that suppression, activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee alongside local communities in Mississippi and Alabama and several other states waged a successful battle to force the federal government to protect Black people’s voting rights—formally enshrined in the Fifteenth Amendment. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was the result of grassroots efforts and organizing on the ground that not only exposed the evils of voter suppression but imagined strategic ways to utilize the ballot to achieve some semblance of political power. This was crystallized in the strategy of Freedom Summer.

In 1964, the momentum of organizing for voting rights eventuated in a summer where students and organizers traveled to Mississippi to demonstrate what real democracy would look like in a state where Black people were excluded from that practice. The challenge and peril of that moment are what made federal legislation possible. And this was an opening that made possible the rise of Black elected officials and encouraged Black participation in formal politics and grassroots political organizing on a national scale, such as the National Black Political Assembly, vehicles designed to deepen the political power achieved by the ballot. Together with direct action organizing and the struggle for Black Power, the work of activists in Mississippi are critical to understanding SNCC’s historic impact on life in the United States and in the world.

Course Breakdown

Week 1: facilitated by Josh Myers
• July 16: The Mississippi Plan: Reconstruction and the Suppression of Black Rights
• July 17: SNCC and the Rationale for Voter Registration
• July 18: Freedom Summer: Toward an Idea and Concept

Week 2: facilitated by Bedour Alagraa
• July 23: Local Stories and Local Peoples: Sunflower and Leflore County, Sam Block and Fannie Lou Hamer
• July 24: The Emergence of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) and the Freedom Vote of 1963
• July 25: Freedom Summer: Ella Baker, The Organizing Tradition, and the Freedom Schools

Week 3: facilitated by Felicia Denaud
• July 30: Freedom Summer, Local Stories: Organizing Jackson and the Founding of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
• July 31: Violence and the Meaning of Self-Defense in Mississippi’s Freedom Summer
• August 1: On The Promises and Disappointments of Atlantic City Challenge

Development Note
Securing the Ballot is part of a series of courses developed by the SNCC Legacy Project ( that utilizes the archival documents now available on various platforms owned by the SLP. This is a pilot version of a 15-week course on Freedom Summer. The full version will be available to share and teach at the college level and in communities soon. Search Our Digital Network at
Register to attend online
Register to attend in-person at The People's Forum - 320 West 37th St, New York, NY
*This is a popular option and limited spaces are available, register now!
The People's Forum
320 W 37th St,
New York, NY
Week 1:
July 16, 17, 18

Week 2:
July 23, 24, 25

Week 3:
July 30, 31 and August 1
Course Professors
Dr. Josh Myers
Dr. Joshua M. Myers is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies in the Department of Afro-American Studies at Howard University and a board member of the SNCC Legacy Project. He is the author of We Are Worth Fighting For: A History of the Howard University Protest of 1989 (NYU Press, 2019), Cedric Robinson (Polity Press, 2021), Of Black Study (Pluto, 2023), and Holy Ghost Key (2024), as well as the editor of A Gathering Together: Literary Journal.
Dr. Bedour Alagraa
Dr. Bedour Alagraa is Assistant professor of Political and Social Thought in the Department of African and African diaspora studies at the University of Texas at Austin. A self-described ‘wayward political theorist’, she received her Ph.D. from the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University in the Spring of 2019, where she was an Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow. She also holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and a Masters in Race, Ethnicity, and Post-Colonial Studies from the London School of Economics.

Dr. Alagraa has been published in several journals, including Critical Ethnic Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, The CLR James Journal of Caribbean Philosophy, Small Axe, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. She is currently co-editor, alongside Anthony Bogues, of the ‘Black Critique’ book series at Pluto Press.
Dr. Felicia Denaud
Dr. Felicia Denaud is a writer and professor from Cincinnati, Ohio. Her work preserves and advances a radical history of ideas about political life and power. Denaud's current book project Western Fundamentalism | Abolition War makes the case for a reconceptualization of warfare based on the multi-century Black struggle against state and master power.  Outside of writing to end war itself, Denaud enjoys coffee, books, running, bingeable television and podcasts, dessert, anything soulful,  and her lemon balm plant!
Key Texts
Primary Source Materials
The SNCC Legacy Project’s Digital Movement Platform, created in 2023.
The website of the Civil Rights Movement Archive, Inc.
The SNCC Digital Gateway, produced in partnership with Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University Libraries.
Secondary Sources
James Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries
(Seattle: University of Washington, Press, 1997)
Charles Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle
(Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995)
John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
(Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994)
 Join us for the
SNCC Freedom School Course
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