James Forman – USA (1928 – 2005)

Linked with The National Visionary Leadership Project.

James Forman (October 4, 1928 – January 10, 2005) was an African-American Civil Rights leader active in both the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party. Forman spent his youth growing up mostly in Chicago and spending summers with family in Mississippi. After finishing high school, he served in the Air Force in Okinawa during the Korean War. Discharged from the Air Force in 1952, he enrolled at the University of Southern California before an incident of police brutality involving two Los Angeles Police Department officers led to an emotional breakdown. He returned to Chicago and ultimately finished his undergraduate studies at Roosevelt University graduating in 1957. Forman spent most of the late 1950s and early 1960s working as a graduate student, journalist and teacher [Washington Post Obituary. Accessed 15 March 2007]. (full text).

The Washington Post Obituary, January 11, 2005.

Find many short videos about him and his life on the National Visionary Leadership Project.

This was his personal website.


James Forman – USA (1928 – 2005)

You find a long Bio on the Georgetown University Law Center.

Forman served as president of the Unemployment and Poverty Action Council (UPAC) before returning to his academic studies, receiving a M.A. from Cornell University (1980) and his Ph.D from the Union Institute (1981). Foreman has also written several books including Sammy Young Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement (1968), The Political Thought of James Forman (1970), The Makings of Black Revolutionaries (1972) and Self-Determination (1985). (full text).

His book: The Secret History of School Choice: How
Progressives Got There First

Older than most civil rights activists, Forman gained the respect of SNCC’s staff of organizers because of his militancy and willingness to undertake mundane administrative chores that were avoided by other staff members. In 1964, after participating in the unsuccessful effort of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to unseat the regular all-white delegation at the national convention in Atlantic City, he and other SNCC workers went to Guinea at the invitation of the African government. After his return, Forman became increasingly outspoken in his criticisms of the federal government and of cautious liberalism. Within SNCC he advocated staff education programs to make civil rights workers more aware of Marxist and Black Nationalist ideas.

Critical of the black separatists who expelled whites from SNCC in 1966, Forman, who was married for several years to white activist Constancia Romilly Forman, nevertheless joined other black militants in demanding a greater role for blacks in alliances with white radicals. As SNCC’s director of international affairs, he sought to build ties between Afro-Americans and revolutionaries in the Third World. Expelled from the disintegrating SNCC in 1968, Forman joined the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. In April 1969 he and other League members took control of the National Black Economic Development Conference in Detroit, and a month later he interrupted a service at New York’s Riverside Church to read his “Black Manifesto,” a demand that white churches pay half a billion dollars to blacks as reparations for previous exploitation. He received a master’s degree in African and Afro-American history from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities. In 1981 he published his thesis, Self-Determination and the African-American People, in which he advocated an autonomous black nation in the Black Belt region of the United States. (full text).

Martin Luther King, Jr. Lecture, 15 pages, 2005.

Forman traveled to Africa in 1967 to study African leaders’ efforts to end colonialism; he wanted to know whether their methods could be used to help American blacks. Two years later, his “Black Manifesto,” which demanded reparations for slavery from white churches and Jewish synagogues, was adopted at the Black Economic Development Conference in Detroit. Other civil rights leaders have echoed this call for reparations in recent years. 1n 1969, Forman’s first book, “Sammy Younge, Jr.: The First Black College Student to Die in the Black Liberation Movement” was published and was followed three years later by his autobiography, “The Making of Black Revolutionaries.” Throughout his life, Forman prolifically wrote books and magazine and news articles. In the 1980s Forman led the Unemployment and Poverty Action Committee, started a short-lived newspaper, and formed the Black American News Service. Forman also earned his M.A. in African American Studies from Cornell University in 1980 and his Ph.D. from the Union of Experimental Colleges and Universities, in cooperation with the Institute for Policy Studies, in 1982. (full text).

Criminal Law: Commnity Policing and Youth as Assets.

Library of Congress acquires civil rights activist’s papers: At a ceremony held Monday in Washington, D.C., the sons of civil rights activist James Forman gave the Library of Congress their father’s papers. Their mother, Constancia Romilly, also attended the event. Forman was born in 1928 and died in 2005. From 1961 to 1966, he served as executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was instrumental in organizing many of the major civil rights campaigns of the era, including the 1963 March on Washington. The Forman Papers — approximately 70,000 items — chronicle his life and role in the civil rights movement, the bulk of the collection dating from 1960. It includes correspondence, memoranda, diaries, speeches and other writings, notebooks, interview transcripts, subject files, scrapbooks, appointment books, photographs, and video and sound recordings … (full text).

Find him also on Life Legacy.


List of African-American-related topics on wikipedia;

African Americans;

African American’s history;

Slavery in the United States;

African American Military History;

The Jim Crow laws;

African American culture;

Black church;

The Black Panter Party.

Comments are closed.