Southern Negro Youth Congress

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The Southern Negro Youth Congress (SNYC) was a Civil Rights organization founded in Richmond, Virginia in 1937 that was based in Birmingham from 1939 until its dissolution in 1949.

Inspired by the National Negro Congress in Chicago, Illinois, 500 delegates came together in Richmond, Virginia in 1937 and founded SNYC as an organization dedicated to ending the terror of lynching and racist injustices before legal authorities, as well as economic discrimination. Among the group's early successes were the establishment of a Negro Community Theatre and the organizing of more than 5,000 tobacco workers into a powerful union that won wage disputes with farm owners.

In 1940 SNYC coordinated a "National Anti-Poll Tax Week" campaign to inform Americans of the discriminatory practices used to deny the vote to African Americans, particularly in the South.

In Birmingham the group was assisted in raising funds by famed Parker High School bandleader Fess Whatley. National SNYC leaders included William F. Richardson, Edward Strong, C. Columbus Alston, James A. Cox, Augusta Strong, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Esther Cooper Jackson, and Edward K. Weaver. Local activists included Charles Gomillion, Asbury Howard, Hosea Hudson, James Jackson and Wesley Whetstone.

In January 1946 more than 100 African-American military veterans organized by SNYC donned their uniforms and marched in a double file to the Jefferson County Courthouse, demanding to be allowed to register to vote. Most were denied.

The organization peaked later that year, with more than 800 delegates attending its national convention in Columbia, South Carolina in October. Attendees heard addresses by W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Robeson and others. That meeting also triggered a political backlash as speakers drew unfavorable comparisons between the communist Soviet Union and the "democratic" United States. U.S. Attorney General Thomas C. Clark labeled the Southern Negro Youth Congress as "subversive" in 1947.

The 8th Southern Negro Youth Conference was held in Birmingham in 1948. It was scheduled for April 25-28, but was delayed as organizers scrambled to find a venue. Eventually sessions were opened at the Alliance Gospel Tabernacle on May 1, but were interrupted when police arrested all the white participants, including U.S. Senator and Progressive Party vice presidential nominee Glen Taylor, for violating the city's segregation laws. Among the resolutions passed that years was one denying that the group had any formal affiliation with the Communist Party.

The resolution had little effect and membership dropped off significantly, leading the organization to formally dissolve in 1949.