Guiding Question:

How was a small organization, run mostly by college students and operating out of a small office in Atlanta, able to have such a far-reaching impact on America social, cultural, and political life? And what can we learn from their model of fundraising and recruitment? 

Step 1: Listen to Richardson 

Judy Richardson joined SNCC via the Cambridge Project. At the time, she was a student at Swarthmore College. In 1963, she became a full-time staff member and worked in the national office. What did she see from her position as a member of the National Office? 


Step 1: Listen to Fannie Rushing

Step 2: Listen to Robert Sparks

Step 2: Examine SNCC’s Friends Program

Richardson and other members of the National Office worked closely with Friends of SNCC Chapters. What were “Friends of SNCC’ chapters? From the document below, what purposes did they serve?


Step 3: Explore the Map

Over the course of the three years that Richardson worked in the National Office, SNCC Friends chapters grew from 19 to 73 chapters. Click on the red dotes and examine what SNCC chapters did locally and nationally. What stands out and why? 

View larger map


Step 4: The Boston Friends Chapter

A key chapter of SNCC’s fundraising strategy was the Boston Friends of SNCC. The Boston Chapter was located near Harvard University, where the organization turned for fundraising and political support. In working with Boston Friends of SNCC, what issues arose? (Resource numbers, Harvard Letter, Faculty Letter) 

Step 5: Apply what you learned

Think about your campus or community. What organizations are present? Learn about those organizations. What do they focus on? Do they have shared missions? Then, learn more about a national organization whose work you respect. Drawing inspiration from Richardson and SNCC’s Friends Network, develop a strategy. What can you do locally to support the efforts of your chosen national organization? How can that support illuminate and challenge local issues? 

Other Resources:

The History Makers

Short Biography of Judy Richardson

SNCC Digital Gateway

Judy Richardson’s Involvement in SNCC

Creating an Office

Operating the Office


David S. Busch, “The Political and Economic Geography of SNCC’s Friends Network”

Wesley Hogan, “How Democracy Travels: SNCC, Swarthmore Students, and the Growth of the Student Movement in the North, 1961-1964,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 126, No. 3 (Jul. 2002), pp. 437-470.