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Excerpt from James Forman's Diary



Excerpt from James Forman's Diary


Excerpt taken from James Forman's Diary, dated Wednesday, December 20, 2009.


Civil rights movements--United States--History--20th century.
Wilkins, Roy, 1901-1981.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973.
Dulles, Allen, 1893-1969.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)


Forman, James, 1928-2005




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)



Date Created



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Spatial Coverage

Washington, D.C.


[Page 1]
Forman's Diary: Wednesday. December 20. 2000
The Diary of James Forman: Tel: 202-737-2133 Fax: 202-234-8422
Mailing Address: P 0 Box 21097. Washington. DC 20009

This morning I received a call from the Roosevelt University Alumni seeking a yearly contribution. I said I would contribute, but that I felt there was an important thing that the Roosevelt Alumni could do: namely, to help the people in the District of Columbia to have U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives who are able to vote in their respective chambers. I also explained that as an alumni of Roosevelt University I was the first person in history to file papers for the office of U.S. Senator from the District of Columbia.

I further explained that I fell it would be to the benefit of all the Roosevelt alumni to participate in the campaign to bring the same Democratic rights to the people of the District of Columbia that are exercised by all other U.S. citizens. I further explained that I was at one time the President of the Student government of Roosevelt University, as well as the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Key award for service to the community as an alumni of Roosevelt. Finally, I said I am now living in Washington. D.C. because I left Chicago in 1961 to fight for the right of all U.S. citizens to have the right to vote and to end [segregation].
The solicitor wished me luck. . I will soon mail my check.

Shortly after this conversation I received a return call from Patricia Anna Johnson. a friend of mine since 1957 when we first met. We both attended a conference sponsored by the Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization, on the campus of Harvard University. In our conversation I said a new idea was emerging that might be useful in the struggle to obtain equal rights, namely that the alumni of various Colleges and Universities could call upon their alma maters to support the cause of Free D.C. Statehood now.

Anna is a graduate of Colby college, located in the state of Maine. She felt that she did not want to relate to the Alumni of Colby college. In this conversion I initiated some remarks about the nature of change and how does it occur. I pointed out that change is basically internal and that the Democratic Party in the South was very, very racist. In the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee we attempted to change this very racist aspect of the Democratic Party by working internally in the Southern states.

I discussed in this conversation a reception at the home of Senator Javits of New York, a Republican, in the summer or 1964 I was an invited guest as well as the late Roy Wilkins. During that reception. Roy and I discussed the Mississippi Summer Project. Roy said he was opposed to what we were doing in Mississippi. I raised with him how did he expect to change Mississippi. This led to a discussion into the nature of change.

[Page 2]

Roy Wilkins, the Executive Secretary of the National Association of Colored felt that you had to work on Mississippi from the outside, externally. I upheld the viewpoint that change in Mississippi had to come from internal actions in addition to external activity and that we were proving this. From a beachhead in McComb, Mississippi in the fall of 1961 we were now organizing in most of the Mississippi counties.

Roy said he disagreed with what were doing. I also said: "Roy, your organization, the NAACP, is one of the four organizations sponsoring the Mississippi Summer Project. He then lowered his head slightly, but he kept stressing that what we were doing was not right. “Change in Mississippi had to come from the outside." he constantly said.

A friend of mine whose parents worked in the Diplomatic section of the U.S. government told me that the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project split the Foreign Service. Many people wanted to participate in some fashion in efforts to support the Mississippi Summer Project.

Patricia Johnson recently told me how she felt like leaving Australia with her children in the summer of 1964 and participating in the Mississippi Summer Project.

During the organizing efforts for the summer project. I overheard one lawyer say to another that the 1964 Mississippi Project will be greater than Spain, a reference to the Spanish Civil War and the participation of U.S. volunteers in efforts to free Spain of fascism. “Get on board," he urged his friend.

Since 1964, 1 have often tried in various interviews to say that during the Mississippi Summer Project U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson sent Allen Dulles, a former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to Mississippi to get a report on Mississippi. One day I received a telephone call from Robert P. Moses. Bob was the Director of the Mississippi Summer Project:

“Jim. Allen Dulles wants to come to Mississippi. You have to be at the meeting.”

I agreed to do this. Three people from the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee met with Allen Dulles in Jackson. Mississippi . Robert P. Moses. Lawrence Guyot, and myself.

Allen Dulles kept stressing that U .S. President Lyndon B. Johnson called him out of retirement to make this trip to Mississippi. He said more than once that President Johnson wants to help the Mississippi Summer Project and the “purpose of my visit is to assess how he might best do this”

Our final remarks, which I expressed, was that he should report back to
[Page 3]
President Johnson that if he wanted to help the Mississippi Summer Project he should work to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. I said, moreover, that he should not permit anyone to filibuster this bill or just talk and talk in order to defeat this bill as had been done with other pieces of legislation designed to help Black people in particular and all U.S. citizens in general.

I stressed that as far as we were concerned: "The Mississippi Summer Project was going to go forward.”

After the meeting. I asked Bob: "Why did you want me to be at this meeting.”

Bob responded : "The staff insisted that we could meet with Allen Dulles if
you were present. They felt their interest would be protected and we could not
betray them or sell them out if you were present."

End of James Forman's Diary entry for December 20.2000
[Page 4]
Fact Sheet on James Forman
*B.A. in Public Administration, Roosevelt
University, Chicago, IL. 1957.

*M.P.S./A.A.A. Master of Professional Studies/
African and Afro-American Affairs, Cornell
University, Ithaca. N.Y. 1980

*Ph.D. Political History, The Union Institute, formerly, the Union for Experimenting Colleges and
Universities, Cincinnati, OH 1982

*In late 1960 and the early part of 1961, James Forman was involved with a nationwide mobilization to
break a boycott by segregationists 2nd The White Citizens Councils on the Black people of Fayette and Haywood Counties, TN who were attempting to register and to vote for the first time. With the cooperation of and through the organizing efforts of the former AFL-CIO industrial union, the United Packinghouse Workers, Forman was involved in obtaining the support of the Industrial Unions of the AFL-CIO to help break this boycott. Through various mergers, the United Packinghouse Workers became a part of the current AFL-CIO Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, UFCW.

*Served as Executive Secretary of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1961-66 and its International Affairs Director from 1966-1969; Forman was actively involved in the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Law and was present in the White House when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

*James Forman currently serves as the President of the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee (UPAC), a non-profit and non-governmental social action organization, and the Unemployed and Poverty Action Council Legal Defense, Education, and Research Fund, Inc. (The UPAC Fund. Inc.) The latter is a 501 (c) (3) tax exempt organization. In the Mt capacity, Forman actively worked for the imposition of U.S. sanctions against the South African government, the passage of the Highway Construction Bill and the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty. He is also active in the fight for Statehood for the District of Columbia and the editor of a book, about this effort entitled: free D.C./Statehood Now.

*After the 1992 Presidential election, as President of UPAC and the UPAC Fund. Inc., James Forman worked for the passage of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (The Motor Voter Bill) and assisted in the organization of the White House ceremony where President William J. Clinton signed this legislation. Forman was present for this ceremony.

*James Forman has been active in many local, state, and national campaigns. In 1984 he was a volunteer for the Mondale-Ferraro Presidential campaign: in 1988 he organized the America for New Leadership Campaign Committee to support the election of Michael Dukakis for President, and in 1992 he was a consultant to the Clinton-Gore Presidential Campaign Committee. In the 1996 Presidential, Congressional, and other elections. James Forman was a member of the National Steering Committee of the Clinton-Gore '96 Campaign and Chair of the Democrats for Victory in 1996 Political Action Committee.

Original Format

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Forman, James, 1928-2005, “Excerpt from James Forman's Diary,” Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed May 17, 2022, http://archives.qc.cuny.edu/civilrights/items/show/154.