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Guide to the Southern Negro Youth Congress FBI Files TAM 265

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
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Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Peter Meyer Filardo

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 10, 2018 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Source - dnr: Maxwell, Louise P.
Source: Richards, Johnetta
Title: Southern Negro Youth Congress FBI Files
Dates: 1940-1981, undated
Abstract: The Southern Negro Youth Congress (1937-1949) was formed in 1937 in Richmond, Virginia by young African American Communists and other young people. Prominent figures included James Jackson, Helen Gray, Esther Cooper, and Edward Strong. Over the next twelve years SNYC formed chapters in ten southern states with a total membership of 11,000 at its peak. In 1939 the SNYC moved their headquarters from Richmond Birmingham. The SNYC organized workers into labor unions, campaigned for anti-lynching legislation, registered voters, and protested segregation. During World War II they testified before the Fair Employment Practices Committee describing employment discrimination in the South. SNYC members also sponsored the Caravan Puppeteers, a political puppet show, to explain how rural blacks could secure the right to vote, and published a newsletter Cavalcade. The SNYC disbanded in 1949 as the political climate of the Cold War became increasingly hostile to radicalism. The collection consists of nineteen files created by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation that were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that pertain to the FBI's surveillance of the Southern Negro Youth Congress and its members and sympathizers. Much of the material reflects the concern of the FBI regarding the influence of the Communist Party of the United States of America on and within the SNYC.
Quantity: 1 Linear Feet (1 box)
Language: Materials are in English
Mixed Materials [31142063293883] [Box]: 1
Call Phrase: TAM 265

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Historical/Biographical Note

The Southern Negro Youth Congress (1937-1949) was formed in 1937 in Richmond, Virginia by young African American communists and other young people. Prominent figures included James Jackson, Helen Gray, Esther Cooper, and Edward Strong. In 1939 the SNYC moved their headquarters from Richmond Birmingham. The SNYC had the support of prominent black adult leaders including Mary McCloud Bethune, Paul Robeson, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, A. Philip Randolph, and W.E.B. DuBois. Officers were elected to one year terms while the adult advisory board raised funds and offered advice.

The SNYC helped black tobacco workers organize a union in Richmond and it also organized anti-lynching campaigns across the South. Over the next twelve years SNYC formed chapters in ten southern states with a total membership of 11,000 at its peak. Over those years the organization encouraged southern blacks to join the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), helped register voters, and during World War II they testified before the Fair Employment Practices Committee describing employment discrimination in the South. SNYC members also sponsored the Caravan Puppeteers, a political puppet show, to explain how rural blacks could secure the right to vote, and published a newsletter Cavalcade.

Their activities also gained the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Tthe SNYC influenced a generation of African Americans, including Sallye Bell Davis (the mother of Angela Davis) and Julian Bond, Sr., to become political activists. The SNYC disbanded in 1949 as the political climate of the Cold War became increasingly hostile to radicalism.

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Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of nineteen files created by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation during the course of its surveillance of the Southern Negro Youth Congress and its members and sympathizers. Much of the material reflects the concern of the FBI regarding the influence of the Communist Party of the United States of America on and within the SNYC.

Arrangement

Organized into one series. Arranged by FBI file number.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Jackson, Esther Cooper
  • Jackson, James E., 1914-2007
  • Maxwell, Louise P.
  • Richards, Johnetta

Subject Organizations

  • Southern Negro Youth Congress
  • Communist Party of the United States of America
  • United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Subject Topics

  • African American communists.
  • Communism -- United States.
  • African Americans -x Civil rights -- Southern States.
  • Intelligence service -- United States

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Southern Negro Youth Congress FBI Files; TAM 265; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

James and Esther Cooper Jackson Papers (TAM 347)

James and Esther Cooper Jackson Photographs (PHOTOS 221)

James and Esther Cooper Jackson Collection (GRAPHICS 026)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials were obtained by Johnetta Richards in 1979 and donated by an unknown party in circa 2000-circa 2009; additional materials were donated by Louise P. Maxwell in 1989. The accession number associated with this collection is 1950.106.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 File 100-HQ-6538: section 1
1940-1942
Box: 1 Folder : 2 File 100-HQ-6548: section 2
1942-1944
Box: 1 Folder : 3 File 100-HQ-6548: section 3
1944
Box: 1 Folder : 4 File 100-HQ-6548: section 4
1944-1945
Box: 1 Folder : 5 File 100-HQ-6548: section 5
1946-1947
Box: 1 Folder : 6 File 100-HQ-6548: section 6
1947
Box: 1 Folder : 7 File 100-HQ-6548: section 7
1947
Box: 1 Folder : 8 File 100-HQ-6548: section 8
1947-1948
Box: 1 Folder : 9 File 100-HQ-6548: section 9
1948
Box: 1 Folder : 10 File 100-HQ-6548: section 10
1948-1949
Box: 1 Folder : 11 File 100-HQ-6548: section 11
1949-1952
Box: 1 Folder : 12 File AT-100-556: section 1
1941-1943
Box: 1 Folder : 13 File AT-100-556: section 2
1944-1945
Box: 1 Folder : 14 File AT-100-556: section 3
1947-1965
Box: 1 Folder : 15 File ME-100-330: section 1
1942
Box: 1 Folder : 16 File ME-100-330: section 2
1946
Box: 1 Folder : 17 File ME-100-330: section 3
1947
Box: 1 Folder : 18 File ME-100-330: section 4
1940-1981
Box: 1 Folder : 19 File SV-100-452: section 1
1944-1981

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