Civil rights leader and political activist James Forman was an instrumental leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), sending demonstrators to the South for the Freedom Ride protests.
Other amazing facts about civil rights leader and political activist James Forman include:
1. Born in Chicago, Illinois on October 4th, 1928, lived with his grandmother in Mississippi until the age of six when he returned to live with his mother and stepfather in Chicago.
2. Used his stepfather’s surname Rufus until, as a teen, he met his real father Jackson Forman, a cabdriver.
3. Graduated with honors from high school and entered the Air Force, stationed in Okinawa, Japan during the Korean War.
4. Enrolled in the University of Southern California. During his second semester, Forman was a victim of brutality: accused of a robbery he did not commit, he was taken to a police station and beaten by two Los Angeles police officers.
5. Had a mental breakdown, and he returned to Chicago. After his recovery he enrolled in Roosevelt University and received a bachelor’s of arts degree 1957.
6. While working as a graduate student, journalist, and teacher. He wrote for the Chicago Defender newspaper, covering the desegregation crisis in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1956-1957.
7. Participated in a SNCC Freedom Rides across the South and was arrested in 1961. He went to work for SNCC full time, becoming its executive secretary in 1961, a position he held for five years.
8. Forced out of the SNCC, replaced by stronger militants Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown.
9. Participated in the Black Economic Development Conference and founded the non-profit Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee. It was around this time that he developed his “Black Manifesto.”
10. Interrupted a church service in 1969 at New York’s Riverside Church to present his Manifesto, demanding $500 million in reparations from white churches for injustices to African-Americans.
11. Received a Ph.D. in 1982 from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities.