Studs Terkel was committed to breaking down barriers.  The best tools he had were his microphone and his recorder, and he used them to great effect during the years of the Civil Rights struggle.  In 1962, he sat down with 10 members of the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) who were visiting Chicago for the SNCC/SOCC “Gospel for Freedom” event at McCormick Place.

North Carolina SNCC members at the Tottle House lunch counter in Atlanta, 1960. (Library of Congress)

North Carolina SNCC members at the Tottle House lunch counter in Atlanta, 1960. (Library of Congress)

The program begins with the students each relating memories brought up by the song “We Shall Overcome.”  The stories they tell are about protests, sit-ins, arrests, and shootings.  These young people are talking about their everyday life, but they’re saying things like

Every night someone had to go to the hospital, group of… four of five had to go to the hospital.

I have this little hat I wear around Mississippi.  Before I left town, the State Patrol called and said the next time they saw that hat in the streets they were gonna shoot it.

They call every night, they threaten to burn your house, and they shoot.

All Americans owe these students a great debt for the changes they helped to bring about in our country.  We are honored to be able to share their words with you.

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