Orator ▪ Organizer ▪ Freedom Fighter
Mukasa Ricks is one of the greatest of all activists produced by the turbulent 1960s in the Southern portion of the United States. His activities have carried him all over this country and throughout the African World in an effort to eliminate the misery and suffering that peoples of African descent have been subjected to ever since the slave trade depopulated Africa of million of its sons and daughters.
As the Field Secretary for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Ricks organized countless sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, and boycotts—all of which ere instrumental in destroying the overt forms of Jim Crow and racial oppression that were so prevalent in the United States less than thirty years ago.
Mukasa Ricks was introduced to the Civil Rights Movement in 1960 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the age of 17. For two years he was active in Chattanooga while working with the local NAACP chapter in the sit-in movement. Quickly he became a hero in the African American community and as a result, persons in the white community made attempts on his life and the lives of his family members. Cars were burned in their yard and their neighbors were harassed.
In 1961, Ricks was contacted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to help voter registration in Chattanooga. Speaking the language of the rural African American community, he became on e of the South’s most powerful organizer’s. Ricks continued organizing in Chattanooga until he was asked to come to Georgia by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1962. As a result he became a part of SNCC’s first Direct Action Program in Albany, Georgia where he first began to build a long-term working relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ricks continued organizing for SNCC in Georgia, and then in Alabama, Mississippi and throughout the South. While organizing in Mississippi in 1964, he helped to build the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) along with Fannie Lou Hamer and others. Subsequently, Ricks returned to Alabama and helped to organize the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. This organization became known as the Black Panther Party and was the first group inside the movement to defend themselves with guns.
By this time, Ricks, who was speaking on the same platforms with Dr. King and other important figures, had become one of the leading organizers and speakers for SNCC in particular and the movement in general. Having participated in hundreds of sit-ins, stand-ins, demonstrations, pickets and marches, Ricks paid the price by being jailed, beaten, bitten by dogs and shot. While organizing once in Americus, Georgia, he was shot at by the police which resulted in him being gazed and left with a scare he still has today.
In January of 1966, Mukasa was a key organizer in Tuskegee, Alabama where Sammy Young Jr. was shot in the head with a shotgun for using a “White Only” toilet. During this same year, SNCC put Ricks in charge of organizing students under what was called Campus Traveler’s Program.
Ricks also traveled extensively with Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) and spoke in the same platforms with him wherever he spoke. In fact, when Ture stepped down as the Chairman of SNCC, Ricks was the leading candidate to replace him but chose to work more quietly in the background. Consequently, when H. Rap Brown was selected as the Chairman of SNCC, Ricks was appointed to travel with Brown in order to show him the ropes.
In February of 1968, when over sixty-nine students were shot in the Orangeburg massacre at South Carolina State College, Ricks was one of the key organizers.
Rick’s organizing activities were so effective that the state of Georgia declared him to be one of the ten most dangerous persons in the state in 1973. As a result the police were requested not to approach his house by themselves but, instead, to signal “39” which meant “Police in Stress, Need Help.” It has been documented that they were given orders to shoot to kill!
Ricks has remained active ever since he first stated out in Chattanooga in 1960. He is one of the most committed activists and charismatic speakers around. The experiences he shares and the message he gives is powerful and needs to be heard by all.
Suggested Lecture Topics
·From Civil Rights, To Black Power, To Pan- Africanism
·Organizing For Black Power and Pan-Aricanism
·The Revolutionary Potential of Students