chapter  10
14 Pages

Calendar Art: How the 1968 SNCC Wall Calendar Brought Activism Indoors

ByLián Amaris

In 1966 photographer, activist, and writer Julius Lester (To Be A Slave, 1969 Newbery Honor Book; Day of Tears, 2006 Coretta Scott King Award) joined the photography department of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and for documentation purposes spent several months traveling through Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana photographing black communities. During his time in those states, he saw many black families with walls postered in calendars, comic strips, and advertisements-but nowhere did he see images of black people represented. In a consciousness-raising effort to promote awareness and pride, Lester created a wall calendar using his own photographs and other photos from the SNCC files. The calendars included photographs of non-white people and important dates in black history and were distributed in 1967 to families in Mississippi. The statement on the last page of the calendar is as follows:

The history of black people in the United States is the story of resistance, one of the longest stories of resistance in the history of man. Black people never accepted slavery or the involuntary servitude that followed slavery. From the rebellions on slave ships to the rebellions of today, our history is one of resistance. Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessey, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois [sic], Herbert Lee, Fannie Lou Hamer are just a few of the more well-known individuals who have fought in their own way.