Across the Generations: SNCC Veteran Talks to High School Students


High school U.S. history students attended a presentation by SNCC veteran Courtland Cox, coordinated by teacher Lordsline Exantus. Cox explained to the students that his years of activism began when he was their age, and like many of them, he grew up in an immigrant household. He also told them that the in the 1960s, the apartments near their school were for whites only and that he protested the DC football team for not allowing Black players.

Many of the students, who live near the school and watch football, found this information surprising. The students and teachers asked a range of questions, everything from “How old are you now?” to “Do you think racism will ever end?” to “What recommendations do you have for us as we take on the challenges in the world today?”


As the students left the auditorium, many stopped to get selfies with the special guest and to ask more questions. In a debrief with some of the students, here were their takeaways.

  1. Action is what really matters.
  2. The time to act is now. I mean, he was young when he was doing this.
  3. You know what I want to change? I want to change that this is not the land of opportunity. I mean, I came from El Salvador and all that happens is work, sleep, work all the time.
  4. I want to know what he does now because this has taken a long time.
  5. I cannot believe the apartment houses on 16th and in this neighborhood were full of white people.
  6. I think he knows a lot. I would like to know more. He reminds me of my uncle.

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ThursdayMykella Palmer