Prefigurative Politics and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Current discussions about prefigurative politics bring back warm and reflective memories of my four years on the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), or “snick” as the letters were turned into an acronym. In my recollection, we did not use the word “prefigurative” in those days—but the content of those discussions is echoed in current debates. We spoke of “the beloved community,” which was intended to describe and define both how we related to one another within the organization and what we sought to build “out there” in the world we sought to transform. By 1963, SNCC had evolved from its student movement origins into an organization of about 225 full-time field organizers and their support staff.

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