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February 24, 1940 - October 25, 2018
Mattie Bivins Dennis at the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer 1964.
On a CBS national broadcast, Mattie Bivins Dennis told the country what registering to vote in her hometown, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was really like. “I was thinking as I walked along the dirt road in front of my house about the dust which would be on my shoes and the scars from the rocks. And that if we had enough registered voters–Negro registered voters, that is–this wouldn’t be a problem at all. Because the streets would be paved.” It was September 26, 1962, and only 12 of the 7,500 voting-aged Blacks in Forrest County, Mississippi were actually registered to vote.
For Bivins, civil rights work was a family affair. She and her relatives formed a web of local activists in the local Freedom Struggle. As a child, Bivins watched her father D.K. Bivins fight for the vote alongside farmer and NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer. Her cousins Dorie and Joyce Ladner were integral to SNCC’s organizing in Palmer’s Crossing, a proud and resilient Black community just south of the Hattiesburg line. This local network and support system inspired Bivins and others to keep on despite fierce white resistance to their efforts.
In 1962, when Hollis Watkins introduced Mattie to Bob Moses, she was ready to jump on board with SNCC. She went with fellow Tougaloo College students Colia Liddell and Dorie Ladner to Sunflower County to register people to vote. For a time she managed the SNCC/COFO office in Greenville, Mississippi.
Dave Dennis, the only CORE organizer in Mississippi at the time, came to Hattiesburg, and met this community of local people changing the world around them. There he met Mattie, and soon he and Bivins married, forming an important partnership rooted in organizing for the Movement as well as love.
In 1963, Bivins went back to Tougaloo and kept fighting against segregation and police brutality. And, despite the financial stress that Bivins, Dennis, and all movement workers dealt with everyday, they shared what they had to keep the Movement family alive.
Mattie Bivins Dennis is survived by her daughter, Erika Young and son-in-law, Brian Young. Her grandchildren Jalen Young and Julian Young, and former husband David Dennis.

Mission Statement

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Legacy Project (SLP) was begun to preserve and extend SNCC's legacy. Although SNCC the organization no longer exists, we believe that its legacy continues and needs to be brought forward in ways that continue the struggle for freedom, justice and liberty. To that end, the SLP is taking a multi-level approach: archiving SNCC documents digitally to make them easily available for use;  encouraging and assisting in the development of books and other media by SNCC veterans with the idea of having the stories and interpretation of SNCC's work told by its veterans; developing with colleges and universities a program of SNCC visiting professors and scholars who would in formal and informal ways interact with young people on campuses and take advantage of campus resources to begin telling the story as it should be told; and finally anchored by the Algebra Project and Young Peoples Project pursue one of the still great unfulfilled needs of the Freedom Movement: Quality Public Education as a Constitutional Right. Built into our efforts is the determination to see that our legacy, the legacy of the freedom struggle, is passed from our generation to future generations. A Luta Continua!

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