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Liberated ThreadsBlack Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul$
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Tanisha Ford

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469625157

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469625157.001.0001

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SNCC’s Soul Sisters

SNCC’s Soul Sisters

Respectability and the Style Politics of the Civil Rights Movement

(p.67) 3 SNCC’s Soul Sisters
Liberated Threads

Tanisha C. Ford

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the importance of dress for student activists in the first half of the black student movement in the early 1960s. It explores how and why women activists in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) abandoned their “Sunday best” attire for denim overalls and jeans. Interviews with SNCC field secretaries reveal that in the early 1960s, they stopped wearing dresses in large part because such attire was not practical on the front lines. But by 1964, they were also doing it to forge political ties with the sharecroppers they were helping to organize and as a way to reject middle-class notions of feminine propriety. Their clothing choices helped spark protests against conservative campus dress codes, ushering in the popularity of “street fashion” on campus.

Keywords:   Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), civil rights movement, denim, politics of respectability, student movement, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Joyce Ladner, Anne Moody, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson

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