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Updated: Oct 8, 2019

Student Voices highlights the work of American University students.

An interview with Gene Guerrero for the Julian Bond Oral History Project, sponsored by the School of Public Affairs at American University. Conducted by American University students Daniel Ritter and Macy Rooney in Takoma Park, Maryland, on April 10th, 2019.

A native Texan, Mr. Guerrero entered Emory University in 1963 after graduating from then all-white Northside High School in Atlanta, Georgia. At Emory, Mr. Guerrero was influenced by Rev. Ashton Jones, a white Quaker minister who advocated for desegregation and equality, leading him to reject his Southern Baptist roots. After being arrested at a demonstration during his first year at Emory, Mr. Guerrero became involved in the civil rights movement. After college, Mr. Guerrero worked for the American Civil Liberties Union, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and the Open Society Foundation, among others.

Mr. Guerrero discusses his personal background and how that led him into the civil rights movement, his time as the first chairman of the Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC), the role of whites in the civil rights movement, his decision to take part in Freedom Summer in Mississippi in 1964, his return to Atlanta and how he co-founded The Great Speckled Bird, an alternative paper in Atlanta that covered social movements, music, politics and the counterculture and lessons for students interested in contemporary activism.

The Student Voices page of the Julian Bond Oral History Project features the work of students at American University. On occasion, this page will feature interviews conducted by American University students with civil rights activists past and present. Other times, we will feature interviews with American University students about their own work in politics and social activism.

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