Joanne Grant research files, 1963-1968
Joanne Grant, born in 1930 in Ithaca, New York to a biracial mother and white father, graduated from Syracuse University with
a degree in history and journalism. At 27, Grant traveled throughout the Soviet Union and China, defying state bans on travel
to Communist countries, seeking alternatives to an American political system that perpetuated segregation and class divides.
Grant was deeply interested in finding organizing and mobilizing tools through which to address the racial and economic inequities
of American democracy. Upon her return, the young journalist briefly assisted W.E.B. DuBois, noted black scholar, intellectual,
and activist. DuBois, who had left the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization
he had founded, as the leadership became more mainstream, sought increasingly more radical alliances for his activism. Undoubtedly,
DuBois' mounting frustrations with the unfulfilled promises of equality through integration and his profound interest in creating
international Communist alliances, influenced Grant. With DuBois' referral, Grant took a position as a journalist at the Leftist
New York weekly The National Guardian in 1960 and traveled throughout the South to detail Civil Rights struggles for the paper,
writing on Freedom Summer, the Citizenship School movement, marches and voter registration drives. Her reporting connected
to her to the folks of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a militant student organization that used direct
action to protest segregation, and to SNCC's founder, Ella Baker. Baker, who had gotten her start as an activist in the NAACP
some twenty-five years before, had persuaded Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to hold a college conference in 1960, on the heels
of sporadic youth action to desegregate college campuses. The symposium birthed SNCC, and Baker left the Southern Christian
Leadership Conference (SCLC) to become the young organization's advisor. Impressed by the expansive direct action program
SNCC was implementing, Grant joined the organization, both as a journalist and activist. Her journalism for The Guardian provided
a platform for SNCC to publicize their work and the repressive responses of politicians, law enforcement and white citizens.
She married Victor Rabinowitz in 1967, a New York lawyer and activist who defended many Leftist organizations throughout the
various freedom struggles of the 1960s including leaders of the Weather Underground, SNCC, and high-profile communists. Grant's
experiences with SNCC and the Black freedom movement informed her comprehensive document- based history of the black struggle
against oppression entitled Black Protest: 350 Years of History, Documents, and Analyses (New York: Fawcett, 1968). Her involvement
with SNCC also led her to cover and participate in the student uprisings at Columbia University in 1968. The result was her
history and analysis of the strike in Confrontation on Campus: The Columbia Pattern for the New Protest. Evident in her writings
is Ms. Grant's overwhelming desire to find new means through which to fight oppression and inequality within the American
democratic system. Grant and Rabinowitz traveled extensively, including a trip to Cuba where Grant charmed Castro into allowing
them to accompany the Cuban president on a leg of a speaking tour throughout the country. Her later work, a film entitled
Fundi (1981) and later book, Ella Baker: Freedom Bound (New York: Wiley, 1998), were both dedicated to exploring the life
and grassroots activism of SNCC founder Ella Baker.
Scope and Contents
This collection is a repository of Joanne Grant's research materials for her 1969 book Confrontation on Campus: The Columbia
Pattern for the New Protest. The collection contains both Grant's notes taken throughout the Columbia revolt, as well as collected
research materials. These materials consist of Strike Coordinating Committee fliers, agendas, leaflets and official statements.
In addition, the collection includes the responses of faculty, administration and community members to the strike. The collection
also contains materials from the Independent Committee on Vietnam at Columbia University, student protest files against Columbia's
involvement in the war. The materials consist of fliers, letters, telegrams and pictures.