The Civil Rights Movement profoundly changed both the cultural attitudes and institutional structures of American society. Activist organizations such as the NAACP, CORE, and SCLC "bent the arc of history towards justice” by linking structured leadership and direction with the willingness and support of everyday people to stand up for their rights.
The arc of history was often bent by students, as they urged activists to use more direct action tactics.Their energy, innovation, passion, and courage in the face of opposition helped expand voting rights, access to public services, and our understanding of what it means to be truly human.
One such student organization, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, played a central role in directing the aims of the Civil Rights Movement. The group invigorated activists, political leaders, and citizens with a fresh idealism and determination.
Nationally coordinated student involvement is vital to American democracy today.
Today, the United States faces mounting challenges to human rights. Youth activist organizations have proliferated across college campuses, addressing the refugee crisis, human trafficking, racial disparities, free speech, the LGBTQ+ struggle, and women's rights.
While hunger banquets in Utah, lessons on privilege in California, and documentary viewings in Washington can raise awareness and make a difference, NSAN believes that the potential of student activism can reach beyond campus borders. The NSAN hopes to harness the power of existing student organizations by mobilizing local communities to act as a larger body - a national student activist network - that will impel our federal government to diligently protect human rights.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.” Robert Kennedy
NSAN imagines ways that committed and connected groups of students could work together to aid those impacted by Trump's recent immigration executive order. NSAN will have the capacity to connect professors across universities by enabling them to write a uniform, thorough legal advisement letter to all affected students. In turn, NSAN would be able to disseminate the letter to all college campuses, organize a national march, and initiate a nation-wide campaign to promote sanctuary campuses.
Currently, university efforts across the nation have been largely uncoordinated. Countless students express desire to make a difference, yet lack an understanding of how to push for change in effective ways. As a student-driven organization committed to the preservation of human rights, NSAN provides support, collaboration, and coordination for student efforts and university resources while helping to keep students engaged and accountable. NSAN will not only serve as a national body through which to coordinate crisis moment efforts, but also to make plans going forward to challenge unjust federal legislation.