“What That Meant to Me”: SNCC Women, the 1964 Guinea Trip, and Black Internationalism

Thursday, January 4, 2018: 2:10 PM
Columbia 8 (Washington Hilton)
Julia Erin Wood, Texas A&M University
In September 1964, a group of eleven Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists traveled to Guinea for a three-week visit in an “attempt to strengthen bonds” between African Americans and “their brothers in Africa.” For the women on the trip – Prathia Hall, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dona Richards Moses, and Ruby Doris Smith Robinson – their stay in Africa had a profound and lasting effect. At a time when pan-Africanism, African nationalism, and black internationalism were often defined in masculine terms, the women of SNCC also embraced and practiced internationalism. For some SNCC women, internationalism took place internally, on a personal level, through claiming and taking pride in their African American heritage. What the SNCC women witnessed and experienced in Guinea provided them with a new affirmation of their beauty as black women, and a stronger sense of their identity as people of African descent. For other SNCC women, their vision of black internationalism focused more on promoting it at an organizational level. These women, particularly Richards Moses and Smith Robinson, pushed for SNCC to make concrete activist ties with African organizations, establish an “African Department,” and involve itself in transnational organizing. Whatever the form of internationalism, after their travel to Africa these women identified themselves as part of a pan- African community, and they played important roles in promoting SNCC’s transnational visions and activities during the 1960s and beyond. 
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