The Common Good
April 2005

Honoring the Elders

by Rose Marie Berger, Mark Betz | April 2005

James Forman,

James Forman, who led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the early 1960s era of freedom rides and freedom schools, died of cancer January 10 in Washington, D.C. He was 76. A Chicago native, Forman became involved in the civil rights movement in 1958 when he went to Little Rock, Arkansas, to cover school desegregation for the Chicago Defender. Two years later he joined the Congress of Racial Equality and worked in Tennessee with sharecroppers who had been displaced for registering to vote. "Jim stood at the center of a movement that changed the Southern landscape," Ruby Nell Sales, civil rights leader and director of SpiritHouse, told Sojourners. "He brought down one of the most violent and dehumanizing systems without firing a shot." Forman continued his political activism despite his illness. During the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Forman joined a delegation that tossed bags of tea into Boston Harbor to protest Washington, D.C.’s lack of voting representation in Congress.

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