James Forman

Title

James Forman

Subject

African Americans--Civil rights
Education
Civil rights workers
African Americans--Southern States.
African American leadership
Race discrimination.
Poverty
African Americans--Race identity.
United States--Race relations.
Civil rights movements--United States
Protest movements.
African Americans--Economic conditions.
Racism
African Americans--Segregation
African Americans--Social conditions.
African Americans--Societies, etc.

Description

James Forman (1928-2005) was an African American civil rights leader who was active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as the Black Panther Party. Forman discusses his involvement with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), its goals as an organization, its members, and other young African Americans involved with the civil rights movement. He describes his difficult experiences attempting to register African American voters in Mississippi. Forman also discusses the leadership philosophies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Forman explains his belief in a non-violent way of life and suggests that it is not enough for the individual to change, but for the civil rights movement to be successful, society as a whole must change. Forman also discusses school integration, the meaning of "Freedom Now", and the effects that African American economic classes have on the civil rights movement.

Format

audio

Identifier

2003oh022_rpwcr011

Interviewer

Robert Penn Warren

Interviewee

James Forman

OHMS Object Text

5.1 2003oh022_rpwcr011 Interview with James Forman, June 4, 1964 2003oh022_rpwcr011 01:36:57 ohrpwcr Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Collection rpwcr001 Robert Penn Warren Civil Rights Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries (Exhibit) African Americans--Civil rights Education Civil rights workers African Americans--Southern States. African American leadership Race discrimination. Poverty African Americans--Race identity. United States--Race relations. Civil rights movements--United States Protest movements. African Americans--Economic conditions. Racism African Americans--Segregation African Americans--Social conditions. African Americans--Societies, etc. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Martin Luther King, Jr. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Nonviolence Passive resistance. School integration James Forman Robert Penn Warren 2003oh022_rpwcr011_forman_acc001.mp3 0 https://oralhistory.uky.edu/spokedbaudio/2003oh022_rpwcr011_forman_acc001.mp3 Other audio 0 Early life / Racial consciousness --ape of a conversation with James Forman. Forman recalls his early life in detail. His childhood in Mississippi and formative years in Chicago are described. Forman's educational path is also documented. The various professions the interviewee had prior to becoming involved with the civil rights movement are examined. Forman's move from Chicago to Mississippi is discussed, along with the circumstances behind it. How Forman became involved in the civil rights movement is revealed, as well as why he joined the movement. Lastly, Forman explains the concept of racial consciousness within the framework of modern society. Boston University ; Careers ; Chicago (Ill.) ; Committees ; Consciousness ; Graduate schools ; Korean War ; Mississippi ; Occupations ; Research ; Robert Penn Warren ; Roosevelt University ; Teaching ; Writing African Americans--Civil rights ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Education ; Novels ; Racism 17 248 Young Americans Let's cut to, uh, something about, uh, uh, well, quotes &quot ; The Young Negro&quot ; --closed quotes, you know. Forman addresses the concept of the young, Black American. It is found that there is a heightened social consciousness among many African Americans, yet many are not directly involved in social justice organizations. The prevalence of middle class values among the younger generations is also discussed. Additionally, Forman emphasizes the potential level of change possible in small numbers of activists. &quot ; The Young Negro&quot ; ; Awareness ; Conventional ; Generalizations ; Money ; Social change ; Social consciousness ; Society ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) ; Traditions ; Values African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Protest movements. ; Racism 17 486 Voting in Mississippi / Students This question of apathy or personal non-involvement. The voting situation in Mississippi is discussed, along with the circumstances that created these conditions for African Americans. Students' motivations for joining the civil rights movement are speculated upon. Remarks from Gilbert Moses on the socioeconomic status of movement participators are commented on by Forman. The interviewee also debunks the notion (originating from a quote by Adam Clayton Powell) that the movement is divided along class tensions across the country. The harmony that exists within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (despite having students of varying economic means) is given as support of this viewpoint. &quot ; Police state&quot ; ; Activism ; Adam Clayton Powell ; Disenfranchising ; Freedom Riders ; Gilbert Moses ; Intellectualism ; Jim Crow Laws ; Lower class ; Middle class ; Mississippi ; Motivations ; Perspectives ; Prejudice ; Robert Penn Warren ; Southern states ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) ; Students ; Voter registration African Americans--Economic conditions. ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers ; Poverty ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. ; Voter registration--Mississippi 17 1001 Perception of Southerners Do you find this, uh-- The notion of a romantic connotation of Southern poverty is examined and questioned. Forman denies this claim within the context of the civil rights movement. Forman also declares the clarity of the issues (i.e. extreme poverty) permeating the South as opposed to the ambiguity and complications present in Northern racial tensions. Attachment ; Implications ; Impressionistic ; Oppositions ; Organizations ; Purity of experience ; Robert Penn Warren ; Romanticism ; Southerners ; The South African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; African Americans--Southern States. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 1222 Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee / Life before the committee Changing the topic a little bit. The purpose of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is established. SNCC's role in the civil rights movement is elaborated upon. Forman also describes the conditions in which the organization came about. The importance of leadership, both local and within the organization is emphasized. Forman gives his reasons for joining the committee, and what professions in the social justice sector he had previously obtained. Additionally, Forman talks of his time as a graduate student at Boston University, and his desire to enact social change for African Americans. Ambivalence ; Boston University ; Context ; Development ; Fayette County (Tenn.) ; Leadership ; Mississippi ; Robert Penn Warren ; Rural ; Social justice ; Southerners ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) ; Students ; Unity African American leadership ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Novels ; Poverty ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 1738 Perceptions of the civil rights movement We were talking earlier at lunch about Ralph Ellison. Forman criticizes the idea of those who identify themselves as Black second, and by their profession first. Forman explains why the civil rights movement is considered to be a reform movement as opposed to a complete destruction of the established societal structure. Society, according to Forman, is inherently racist and biased against African Americans. Artists ; Confusion ; Identities ; Malcolm X ; Professions ; Racist ; Ralph Ellison ; Reform ; Robert Penn Warren ; Society ; Undignified ; Values ; Viewpoints ; War African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Protest movements. ; Race discrimination. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 2197 Civil rights violence Did you read the, uh, various statements or did you participate in the statements on the question of... A recent event of violence within the civil rights movement is considered. Forman also expresses his surprise at the lack of violence in the civil rights movement. This violence tends to be a response to the unjust conditions inherent within society against African Americans. Social institutions such as churches are thought to help channel the anger that African Americans feel. Anger ; Churches ; Conditions ; Containment ; Culture ; Editorials ; Frustrations ; Incidents ; Non-violence ; Robert Penn Warren ; Society ; Solutions ; Structure ; The New York Times African American churches ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Religion. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers--Violence against ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 2402 Eliminating racial and social problems / Awareness of racial tensions Uh, I think that the basic responsibility that all negroes have and all Americans is to hurry up and change the conditions... Forman declares the need to address racial tensions before attempting to fix other underlying issues. The desire to alleviate poverty is emphasized, and could possibly be accomplished by reforming the prison and welfare systems. Next, Forman describes the heightened awareness in mainstream society of racial tensions and the civil rights movement as a whole. Adam Clayton Powell ; Birmingham (Ala.) ; Conditions ; Connections ; Consciousness ; Fundamentals ; Interest groups ; March on Washington ; Marshall Plan ; Models ; Parallels ; Prison systems ; Programs ; Public opinions ; Removal ; Robert Penn Warren ; Unity ; Welfare African Americans--Economic conditions. ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Poverty ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 2853 Montgomery, Alabama / Martin Luther King, Jr. / Non-violence Several people, including Louis lo--Louie Lomax, have commented on the fact that after the victory in, uh, Montgomery... Forman comments on a statement about the civil rights movement made by Louis Lomax. A quote by Kenneth Clark on Martin Luther King, Jr. is examined. Forman gives his opinions on this sentiment as well, and stresses the need for a change in the structure of society. Lastly, the notion of non-violence in the movement and the relevance of an activist's belief in this regard is explored. Churches ; Consciousness ; Cooperation ; Dr. Kenneth Clark ; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ; Leadership ; Louis Lomax ; Ministers ; Montgomery (Ala.) ; Psychologists ; Ralph Abernathy ; Reactions ; Robert Penn Warren ; Structure African American leadership ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Nonviolence ; Passive resistance. ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 3362 ACT (organization) / Public school integration What about ACT? The origins of an organization called ACT are examined, which included a school boycott. This organization is thought to have assisted the growth of the civil rights movement, especially when taking into consideration its impact on the North. Integration of schools on the East Coast is discussed. Milton A. Galamison, an advocate of public school integration is found to have his children enrolled in private school, and the relevance and merits of this in the context of integration are debated. ACT (Organization) ; Boundaries ; Boycotts ; Deepening ; Districts ; Housing patterns ; Milton A. Galamison ; New York (N.Y.) ; Northeastern United States ; Private schools ; Public schools ; Roots ; Schools ; Students ; Washington (D.C.) African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Discrimination in education. ; Education ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; School integration ; Segregation in education. ; United States--Race relations. 17 3842 White liberals / Motivations for joining the movement / More on school integration What about the role of the quote &quot ; white liberal,&quot ; who James Baldwin says is an affliction? The term &quot ; white liberals,&quot ; as postulated by James Baldwin, is discussed. Possible motivations for joining the civil rights movement (for whites in particular) are explored. Entitlement to one's own opinion is emphasized, in regards to both segregation and integration. The ethics behind Galamison's decision [as discussed in the previous segment] are revisited. Lastly, Forman describes his belief that other racial issues need to be addressed before the integration of schools. Decisions ; Dixiecrats ; Ethics ; Irrelevant ; James Baldwin ; Majority ; Malcolm X ; Milton A. Galamison ; Personal ; Power ; Priorities ; Reasons ; Robert Penn Warren ; Schools ; White liberals African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Discrimination in education. ; Education ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; School integration ; Segregation in education. ; United States--Race relations. 17 4318 What's next? / &quot ; Huckleberry Finn&quot ; After you had--let's assume something. Forman speculates on what would happen next if all of the racial issues of the day were resolved. Forman says that issues of poverty would then be attempted to be fixed. Another problem would be the outliers who would re-instigate the racial problems without militant enforcement and supervision. Additionally, the novel &quot ; Huckleberry Finn&quot ; and its place in the school curriculum are explored. Books ; Enforcement ; English ; Huckleberry Finn (Book) ; Infractions ; Integration ; Opinions ; Public housing ; Rebellions ; Reforms ; Robert Penn Warren ; Schools ; Voting African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Education ; Poverty ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 4550 Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophies When I asked, uh, Dr. King for the, uh, question, phrased differently, the same thing about the phases... The perspective of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the alleviation of poverty following the hypothetical end of racism is detailed. Forman's response to this is documented, as well as what organization or entity is best to implement King's ideas. This is found to be most effectively done through governmental programs. Forman also highlights the need to eliminate poverty across the country presently, regardless of a person's race. &quot ; Operation Bootstraps&quot ; ; Assistance ; Booker T. Washington ; Context ; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ; Government programs ; Help ; Judgements ; Levels ; Literacy ; Raising standards ; Responses ; Robert Penn Warren ; Society ; Variables ; Wyatt T. Walker African Americans--Economic conditions. ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Poverty ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 5060 Freedom Now / African American middle class What do you understand by &quot ; Freedom Now&quot ; ? Forman tells of the slogan and organization called &quot ; Freedom Now.&quot ; The saying is discovered to have originated from Ghana during an anti-colonialism period in Africa. This phrase is compared with another one used in the civil rights movement with similar African roots, &quot ; One Man, One Vote.&quot ; The Black middle class is discussed as well. The potential harm that this class does to the movement is examined, and an example of this with the neighborhoods of Atlanta is given. Despite this, Black middle class students have helped the movement in regards to alleviating poverty. Atlanta (Ga.) ; Colonialism ; Definitions ; Discrimination ; Forces ; Freedom Now ; Ghana ; Middle class ; Motivations ; Nontraditional ; One Man, One Vote ; Progress ; Protests ; Robert Penn Warren ; Slogans ; Students ; Theodore White African Americans--Economic conditions. ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; African Americans--Societies, etc. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Civil rights workers ; Poverty ; Protest movements. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 5497 Leadership In any mass movement there's a number of, uh, people in positions of leadership, there's bound to be... Forman examines the notion that civil rights organizations are becoming increasingly bureaucratic. This notion is found to be untrue in the vast majority of cases, barring the recent ventures of the NAACP. Forman also responds to an assertion made by fellow activist Roy Wilkins. Additionally, the political system of the South and its corrupt nature are discussed, including one of the De La Beckwith trials. ACT (Organization) ; Byron De La Beckwith ; De-centralization ; Decentralization ; Hung juries ; James Baldwin ; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) ; Oversight ; Policy-making ; Politicians ; Robert Penn Warren ; Roy Wilkins ; Southern mob ; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Administration ; African Americans--Race identity. ; African Americans--Segregation ; African Americans--Social conditions. ; African Americans--Societies, etc. ; African Americans--Southern States. ; Civil rights movements--United States ; Protest movements. ; Race discrimination. ; Racism ; United States--Race relations. 17 interview James Forman (1928-2005) was an African American civil rights leader who was active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as the Black Panther Party. Forman discusses his involvement with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), its goals as an organization, its members, and other young African Americans involved with the civil rights movement. He describes his difficult experiences attempting to register African American voters in Mississippi. Forman also discusses the leadership philosophies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Forman explains his belief in a non-violent way of life and suggests that it is not enough for the individual to change, but for the civil rights movement to be successful, society as a whole must change. Forman also discusses school integration, the meaning of &quot ; Freedom Now&quot ; , and the effects that African American economic classes have on the civil rights movement. No transcript. All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries. audio Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries. 0 http://www.nunncenter.net/ohms/render.php?cachefile=2003oh022_rpwcr011_forman_ohm.xml 2003oh022_rpwcr011_forman_ohm.xml https://oralhistory.uky.edu/catalog/xt7pvm42vb4w

Interview Keyword

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Martin Luther King, Jr.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Nonviolence
Passive resistance.
School integration

Sort Priority

0007

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Files

forman_sm.jpg


Citation

“James Forman,” The Robert Penn Warren Oral History Archive, accessed August 14, 2020, https://www.nunncenter.net/robertpennwarren/items/show/106.