The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Civil Rights Movement

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The 1960s were crucial to the advancement toward racial equality for the United States. The Civil Rights Movement, which began around 1955, made the majority of its progress during the 1960s through the many different civil rights organizations that were established during this time. One group in particular, known as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, became extremely influential in the fight against racial discrimination. SNCC protesters organized freedom rides and sit-ins and created protest songs in an attempt to sway the public toward the belief that blacks were equal to Whites and that they should be treated as such. The SNCC protesters sang songs such as “Which Side Are You On?” in order to rally their audience to their cause by stirring emotional responses by asking “which side” they are on. The song is sung by many backup singers, but has one main vocalist, and is reminiscent of a gospel choir (which is generally associated with an African-American style). “Which Side Are You On?” attempts to force its audience to take a stance on civil rights, but hints at ridicule if one chooses to side against the movement through insults such as “boy” “Uncle Tom” and “tom”, and by mentioning “Chief Pritchett” and “Mayor Kelly”, key figures in the local government and law enforcement of Albany, Georgia at this time, in a bad light. “Which Side Are You On?” is trying to target those who have not yet taken action in the Civil Rights Movement, but seems to be really focused getting those African-Americans who have not yet spoken out against the injustice through the gospel choir style of singing. The gospel singing style is very effective in motivating the congregation during a church service, and that is most likely... ... middle of paper ... ... are many people who are either undecided or are too lazy to stand up for their rights, the end of the protesting becomes a cloudy mess and the outcome is indeterminable. It becomes a fight to see whether those undecided people will join the fight on one side or the other. The song “Which Side Are You On?” is an attempt to persuade those who are uncertain of what they think and is also meant as a jab to the current establishment. If people didn't decide to care for what they believe in enough to act on those beliefs then the Civil Rights Movement would have not taken place. SNCC tried to embolden those who had not acted on their stance in order to discover how many other shared their ideals and among them who was willing to join SNCC in the fight for racial equality and justice. Works Cited SNCC.“Which Side Are You On?”. SNCC Freedom Singers. Internet. c. 1963.

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