SLP December 7, 2011
The SNCC Legacy Project mourns the death today of former SNCC Field Secretary Robert C. Mants, Jr. (1943-2011). Bob suffered a massive heart attack.
Born and raised in East Point, GA, Bob was a 1961 graduate of East Point/South Fulton High School. While still in high school, Bob was the youngest member of the Committee On Appeal for Human Rights (The Atlanta Student Movement) at the age of 16 and in the 11th grade while at the same time volunteering at the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Headquarters. He attended Morehouse College.
By the summer of 1964 Bob was working for SNCC in Americus, GA. He met his future wife, Joann Christian, while working with the SNCC Southwest Georgia Project. In early 1965 he went to work in Lowndes County, AL, and was instrumental in the planning of the Selma-to-Montgomery March in March 1965. On “Bloody Sunday” Bob was in the front ranks of marchers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
At the 25th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” Bob told the New York Times: “Two months after Bloody Sunday, an organization I was in got to work in nearby Lowndes County, which was 81 percent black and had fewer than 30 black registered voters and no black elected officials. The result was the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, whose symbol, a black panther, would be adopted by the movement of that name. “ NYTimes March 5, 1990
Bob Mants stayed working in Lowndes County ever since. He had served as a Lowndes County Commissioner for many years, and was chairman of the nonprofit “Lowndes County Friends of the Historic Trail”, advising the National Park Service.
Robert Mants is survived by his wife of 45 years Joann Christian Mants, a high school teacher in Selma, Alabana; three children: Kadejah, Kumasi, and Katanga; and seven grandchildren.
Charles Cobb Jr wrote:
On top of Ed Brown passing on this makes this month the worst I have experienced in a very long time. Over the years since the SNCC days Bob helped me in myriad ways as I struggle go gain focus for writing about the movement. One of my earliest poems, was written to accompany a great photo of Bob:
(he's built on what they see in him
and what he sees in them)
being country black
Robert Mants outside the offices of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, popularly known as the “Black Panther Party” because of the black panther symbol the party used to identify itself. Photo by Bob Fletcher. Printed in The Movement, December 1966
Bloody Sunday, 1965:
Hosea Williams (SCLC) and John Lewis (SNCC), followed by Albert Turner (SCLC) and Bob Mants (SNCC), lead the march down from the Edmund Pettus bridge towards the waiting troopers and possemen.
(L-R) March 7, 1965 - At Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, SCLC’s Hosea Williams, SNCC Chairman John Lewis, and SNCC Field Secretary Robert Mants (in cap) lead a line of marchers toward an oncoming phalanx of Alabama State Troopers. Seconds after this picture was taken, the troopers overran the marchers, tear gassing and beating them with clubs.
Read more about Bob Mants:
Compiled by Sharlene Kranz
SNCC Legacy Project