SNCC played an important role in civil rights history and was fundamental to the organizing of sit-ins, freedom rides and other forms of direct-action protest. To prepare for the type of hatred and violence they would encounter, students practiced “passive resistance training.” While SNCC was non-violent, the type of training the students had to do included everything from verbal abuse and hair pulling, to spiting and getting aggressively physical. These training sessions, briefly depicted in a scene in The Butler, were difficult and often included white members of the group having to enact the racism the group was fighting.
These photos provide a rare glimpse into the emotional, physical, and psychological work activists did in order to prepare for their non-violent resistance. They were taken by the legendary photographers James Karales and Eve Arnold. These photos have been published with permission from their respective estates.
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