"HERE WAS A MAN WHO HAS SERVED HIS COUNTRY, AND WHAT HAD IT GOTTEN HIM?": FIRST EDITION OF SAMMY YOUNGE, JR., 1968, INSCRIBED BY CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER JAMES FORMAN
FORMAN, James. Sammy Younge, Jr. The first black college student to die in the Black Liberation Movement. New York: Grove, 1968. Octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket. $950.
First edition of a powerful account of the murder of Black Navy veteran Sammy Younge, Jr., which marked, to Forman, "the end of tactical non-violence," inscribed by him, "To B— N—, All hands & help are needed in the long range struggle. Keep on pushing & we will win without a doubt. James Forman 1/29/69."
Forman was an Air Force veteran and journalist who became involved with CORE before his association with the Freedom Riders and SNCC. In 1961 he barely survived racist attacks by armed whites before his appointment as executive secretary of SNCC, where he quickly "filled a vacuum …. [and] expanded SNCC's role" (Branch, Parting the Waters, 533). He called the disappearance of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner "the first interracial lynching in the history of Mississippi," and was leading a meeting in church when he learned that the bodies of the three men had been discovered (Watson, Freedom Summer, 206).
Forman viewed the all-white jury's acquittal of Marvin Segrest for the January 1966 murder of Sammy Younge as a turning point in uniting the civil rights and antiwar movements. Younge, a Navy veteran who had only one kidney, was shot and killed by Segrest when he tried to use a "whites only" restroom. At his funeral, as John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael and Forman "stood looking at the American flag draped over his casket, Lewis recalled, 'The irony hit me hard. Here was a man who has served his country, and what had it gotten him?'" To Forman, Younge's murder "marked the end of tactical non-violence." The April of the following year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rose in New York's Riverside Church and boldly called for a "radical revolution." He challenged the values of a nation that sent Black men "crippled by our society" to Vietnam, in order to "guarantee liberties which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem." In 1968, on "the one-year anniversary of King's Riverside speech," he was assassinated (Lucks, Selma to Saigon, 113, 195-96, 209). "First printing" stated on copyright page. With double-page map, 15 pages of black-and-white illustrations and full-page facsimile.
A fine inscribed copy.