Civil Rights Campus: Student Activism and the 1960 Youth Leadership Conference

  • Brian Suttell


The recipient of the Midgette Award for best student paper, Brian Suttell, takes a familiar North Carolina narrative in a new direction. Whereas many historians have regarded the 1960 establishment of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at a youth leadership conference at Shaw University as opening a new chapter in organized student activism, Suttell demonstrates that robust student leadership had already developed at a number of historically black universities and colleges. Shifting the story from Greensboro to Raleigh, he highlights developments at Shaw University and St. Augustine's College (today, St. Augustine's University) and introduces readers to new players in the civil rights drama of the 1960s: Carry Gaddy Brock, David C. Forbes, Charles Jones, Barbara Woodhouse, Albert Hockaday and Glenford E. Mitchell. While conceding the tension between conference organizer Ella Baker and Dr. Martin Luther King over the roles each hoped students would play, Suttell makes clear that these tensions should not be exaggerated and that students had already developed "leadership, discipline and courage" in the struggle well before the formation of SNCC.

Author Biography

Brian Suttell

Brian Suttell expects to receive a PhD from UNC-Greensboro in December 2017. The title of his dissertation is "Campus to Counter: Civil Rights Activism in Raleigh and Durham, 1960-1963."