Resources for Rebels
- "Organizing a Mass Uprising," a field manual explaining how to start and sustain a mass uprising.
- “The Method,” a brief introduction to the “Organizing a Mass Uprising” field manual, written by Dale Woolridge for the FreedomFest 21 blog.
- Frances Fox Piven, Challenging Authority. Describes a theory about how ordinary people can get power from disrupting the status quo and use it to force change. Compatible with Gene Sharp's theories about nonviolent struggle.
- Charles Payne, I've Got the Light of Freedom. An outstanding history of the black uprising of the 1960's. Provides insight into SNCC organizing methods.
- Francesca Polletta, Freedom is an Endless Meeting. Analysis of "participatory democracy," used by SNCC to deliberate on problems and issues.
- Srdja Popovic, Blueprint for Revolution. About the Otpor uprising in Serbia against dictator Slobodan Milosevic,written by a leader and founder. Rebellion can be fun.
- Tina Rosenberg, Join the Club. This discusses Otpor from the standpoint of peer influence.
- Mark and Paul Engler, This is an Uprising. Discusses the inner workings of several uprisings, including that of Martin Luther King and Otpor, the Serbian student group that brought down the dictator Slobodan Milosevic.
- Hollis Watkins, Brother Hollis. Watkins was an effective field secretary in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). A well-written description of his work with SNCC, including creating a local activist organization in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
- Hezekiah Watkins (with Andrea Ledwell), Pushing Forward. Did time on death row at the age of 13, arrested 109 times as a result of his civil rights activism. The book tells his story.
- Wesley Hogan, Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC's Dream for a New America. Good overall history and analysis of SNCC with information about how SNCC organizing methods spread to other movements.
- David S. Meyer, The Politics of Protest. Chapter 3 is about becoming an activist.
- Albert Bandura, Self-Efficacy. Chapter 11 is about political activism. People who believe they can succeed on a given task tend to do better than people who think they can’t succeed.
- Jack Minnis, “The Care and Feeding of Power Structures,” available online. Minnis headed SNCC’s research group, which worked to find out who had the real power in a community, who owned what, etc. Some SNCC workers then used this information to pressure these individuals. This little pamphlet gives several examples.
- Bob Zellner, Julian Bond, et. al., The Wrong Side of Murder Creek. Biography of a white SNCC field secretary. Spike Lee made a film, “Son of the South,” based on the book, with Lucas Till playing the part of Bob Zellner.
- https://www.crmvet.org/docs/650218_sncc_nofreedom.pdf. Students and school officials in Mississippi fought over the right of students to wear SNCC pins. This is an example of the fights we need today in our high schools. It led to a major school desegregation effort in Mississippi that went on for years.
- Unita Blackwell, Barefootin’. The author was a SNCC Field Secretary who became a leader in the SNCC pin fight mentioned above. Her son and husband were the plaintiffs in Blackwell vs. Issaquena County Board of Education.
- Srdja Popovic and Mladen Joksic, “The Secret of Political Jiu-Jitsu,” Foreign Policy, March 3, 2014. https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/03/03/the-secret-of-political-jiu-jitsu/. “In a word, making oppression backfire is a skill, and skills can be learned and mastered.”
Infirmation about organizing labor
- Jane F. McAlevey, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age. Analyzes the American labor movement and unearths the organizing philosophy, which is similar to SNCC's, that accounts for how certain unions became powerful and successful.
- Sam Gindin, “The Power of Deep Organizing,” in the Jacobin, 12.08.2016. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/12/jane-mcalevey-unions-organizing-workers-socialism. A good review of McAlevey’s No Shortcuts. Consider reading it first.
- Walter Peric, “Stopping Labor’s Backward March,” in the Jacobin, 01.10.2017. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/01/unions-organizing-jane-mcalevey-alinsky-cio-seiu-labor. Another review of McAlevey’s No Shortcuts. Worth reading.
- Kate Bronfenbrenner, et. al., Organizing to Win. A collection of articles about the organizing methods of successful unions.
- Ruth Milkman and Kim Voss, Rebuilding Labor. Another set of topics about building strong unions.
- William Z. Foster, “Organizing Methods in the Steel Industry,” 1936 http://ucf.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/ucf%3A5363. Also, “What Means a Strike in Steel,” 1937 http://ucf.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/ucf%3A4979. The author headed the communist party of the U.S. and was generally considered one of the most effective labor organizers in his time. In these articles he describes his organizing methods, which are similar to SNCC’s.
Books on nonviolent struggle by Gene Sharp
- The Politics of Nonviolent Struggle. 902 pages. This is a three-volume set, the second of which describes 198 tactics.
- Waging Nonviolent Struggle. 598 pages.
Since the above books are lengthy, consider deferring them and reading one of the following first:
- "From Dictatorship to Democracy," 102 pages (online article).
- How Nonviolent Struggle Works.
- Mississippi Sovereignty Commission Archive Records gathered by Mississippi's domestic intelligence program during the black uprising of the early 1960s. Put an activist's name in the search box and find out what the person was up to, according to the government. Don't believe everything.
- Civil Rights Movement Veterans A big collection of information about the civil righrs movement, including many original documents
- SNCC Digital Gateway How SNCC worked with local people to build grassroots organizations to force change.
- SNCC Legacy Project The mission of this website is to preserve SNCC’s legacy by archiving its papers.
- Chicago SNCC History Project Historical records about the Chicago affiliate of SNCC. This is the group that organized the 1963 school boycott in which 250,000 public school students stayed home to protest the poor quality of Chicago’s “colored” schools.
Two videos by Jack Wheeler describing how his dreams of bringing down the Soviet Union came true:
- http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/nonviolent_eng.pdf 50 Crucial Points
- https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/05/social-movements-fight-for-15-occupy-civil-rights/ "A Winning Strategy for the Left." Two academics argue that activists pursuing social change should target corporations and oppressive institutions instead of politicians. A good example of strategic thinking.
- Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society. Discusses from a Christian perspective the moral and ethical issues involved in using grassroots power to force changes in society.
- Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: Science and Practice. Good book on persuasion and social influence for the general public.
- Dave Mitchell and Andrew Boyd, Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution. This is a good source for ideas about tactics. The same content, along with other information, is on the website www.beautifultrouble.org
- Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement. A good biography of the initial convenor of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
- Richard H. Buskirk, Frontal Attack: Divide and Conquer, the Fait Accompli, and 118 Other Tactics Managers Must Know. The title says it all.
- Robert Greene and Joost Elffers, 48 Laws of Power. Lessons about acquiring and using power.
- Chin-ning Chu, The Asian Mind Game. Includes the “36 strategies,” stories about deceit and treachery well-known and enjoyed by Asian people.
- H.L. Richardson, Confrontational Politics. A rare book by a conservative about a confrontational style of activism for conservatives.
- Clayborne Carson, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960's. A history of SNCC.
- Daniel Hunter, Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: An Organizing Guide. The "new Jim Crow" is the American prison system, which the author wants to dismantle. Readers might prefer to pursue different goals, but the book's ideas about organizing may help in pursuing virtually any political goal.
- Albert Camus, The Rebel. An extremely challenging book by the Nobel Prize winning French existentialist, describing the mind of a person who is completely fed up. It influenced several SNCC leaders, notably Robert Moses.
- Jo Ann Gibson Robinson, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It. When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing the bus driver’s order to move to the back of the bus, Robinson stayed up all night to make, without asking permission, over 35,000 copies of a flyer calling for a city-wide one-day boycott of the bus system in Montgomery.
Two Articles on Psychology
Last updated on 10/24/2021 by Dale W. Woolridge.