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James Forman

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Information about James Forman

Profile image of James Forman

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Shrimp
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Puerto Rico
Favorite Quote:
Victory is certain. The future is bright.

Birthplace

Born:
10/4/1928
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Activist
Nonprofit Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Shrimp
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Puerto Rico
Favorite Quote:
Victory is certain. The future is bright.

Birthplace

Born:
10/4/1928
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how James Forman is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Social activist and organizer James Forman was born on October 4, 1928, in Chicago. He spent much of his childhood with his grandmother on a farm in Marshall County, Mississippi. His grandmother stressed the importance of education and his experiences in the segregated South proved very important in his developing social consciousness.

Forman completed high school in 1947. He attended Chicago’s Wilson Junior College before joining the U.S. Air Force. After completing four years of military service, Forman enrolled at the University of Southern California. At the beginning of his second semester, Forman was beaten and arrested by the police. He then transferred to Chicago’s Roosevelt University where he became a leader in student politics. Forman graduated in 1957 and attended Boston University as a graduate student.

During the late 1950s, Forman gradually became involved in the budding Civil Rights Movement. In 1958, he traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, to cover the school desegregation crisis for the Chicago Defender. In 1960, he joined the Congress of Racial Equality, providing relief services to sharecroppers in Tennessee who had been evicted for registering to vote. That same year, he met several of the Freedom Riders, who in turn asked Forman to work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1961, Forman moved south, joined SNCC, and began working full time for the Civil Rights Movement.

Forman’s organizational skills, as well as his maturity and experience, thrust him into a leadership role at SNCC, where he supervised staff and directed fundraising. He served as SNCC’s executive secretary from 1964 to 1966. Forman left SNCC in 1968 to assist in increasing the economic development opportunities for black communities. Remaining an activist, Forman served as president of the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee. He later returned to academia, obtaining his M.A. degree from Cornell University in 1980 and his Ph.D. from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities.

Since 1968, Forman has published several books, including Sammy Younge, Jr., The Making of Black Revolutionaries; Liberation Viendra d’une Chose Noir; The Political Thought of James Forman; and Self-Determination: An Examination of the Question & its Application to the African-American People.

Forman passed away on January 10, 2005.

See how James Forman is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Forman interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Forman describes his profession
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Forman lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Forman details his parents' backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Forman discusses the shared history of Native and African Americans
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Forman recalls his first experiences with racial discrimination
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Forman describes his childhood avocations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Forman details his Catholic school experience
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Forman discusses his early scholarly pursuits
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Forman describes an early effort to fight for racial unity
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Forman describes his struggle to pursue a college preparatory track
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Forman discusses other notable students from Englewood High School, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Forman explains his pursuits after high school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Forman details his tour of duty in the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Forman describes being committed to a Veterans Administration mental hospital against his will
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Forman recalls his time at Roosevelt University, Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Forman describes a conflict with a professor as a Boston University graduate student
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Forman describes his relationship with scholar St. Clair Drake
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Forman discusses what influenced his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Forman talks about his involvement with SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Forman acclimates himself to the segregated South in the 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Forman discusses the road to his involvement with SNCC, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Forman discusses the road to his involvement with SNCC, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Forman details SNCC's strategy for eradicating Southern segregation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Forman details his involvement in many Civil Rights efforts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Forman discusses problems within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the late 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Forman talks about his separation from Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Forman comments about progress toward racial equality after the Civil Rights Movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Forman discusses the recent riots in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Forman shares thoughts on issues of race and class
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Forman reflects on organizing movements
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Forman considers his legacy