Youth in revolt Former civil rights activist recalls the movement for African American rights

Not many people can say they altered the course of American history before their 20th birthday.

Charles E. Cobb Jr., journalist and former civil rights activist, is one of the few who can.

The professor at Brown University came to CF to impart his experiences from the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and what they mean today, in three different presentations.

Cobb was invited to speak at both the Ocala and Citrus Campus by Dr. John Anene, associate professor of social sciences, and Dewith Mayne, associate professor of business. His presentation was a part of an annual series that presents two speakers per year.

Cobb spoke of his time advocating voting rights for African Americans in Mississippi in the early 60s with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC. He described the experiences he and his peers struggled with and how the youth was a major part of the movement.

“What is largely missing from the narrative of the modern civil rights movement is that it was led by young people,” Cobb said. “I am always surprised by how much of the movement is reduced to what Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks did.”

He said that what civil rights groups achieved in those days led the way to America having a black President, and other black leaders, today.  He emphasized that change has to come from ordinary people, especially the younger generations.

“My most important advice is this: You have to make a demand for the kind of society you want to live in, especially if it is a free society,” Cobb said.

The presentation on the Ocala Campus, which was held in the Ewers Century Center, was nearly filled to capacity. Many of the audience members were students who received credit for attending.

One of these students, Tanganetha Morand, 40, business major, said she learned a lot of information about the Civil Rights Movement from attending.

“He went into a lot of depth about history,” Morand said. “Some of the things I already knew and some things he enlightened, and added on to, what I knew.”

Both Mayne and Dewith, who collaborated to bring everything together, agreed that the presentations at both campuses were a success.

“It is living history,” Dewith said. “It is a positive experience for students. Some students even came up to me and said ‘wow it’s so enriching’.”


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