Ivanhoe Donaldson

donaldsoniIvanhoe Donaldson was an active member of the SNCC and is now a businessman and political consultant. Donaldson worked for SNCC as an organizer and held leadership positions within the organization. In 1960-62, as a SNCC field secretary, Donaldson collected food in Michigan and Kentucky and brought it to Mississippi to help sharecroppers and tenant farmers who had been kicked off of their land for attempting to register to vote. In 1963 he was active in demonstrations in Danville, Virginia, and later during “Freedom Summer” in Mississippi in 1964. After the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began planning a march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, Donaldson became one of the SNCC organizers in Selma. In 1968, Donaldson helped found Afro-American Resources, Inc., which ran the Drum and Spear Bookstore, Drum and Spear Press, and the Center for Black Education in Washington, D.C. He was also a visiting lecturer for Afro-American courses at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1970. Donaldson advised and worked for Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry for many years. Donaldson is currently a vice-president for labor force management company PRWT Services. He continues to support SNCC related activities and served on the advisory committee for an October 2005 conference called “Tell the Story: The Chicago SNCC History Project, 1960 -1965.”

“… Nigger, what’s your mamma’s name?” I didn’t answer. “Boy, if you feel so God damned sorry for these black son of a bitches, why don’t you take them all up north with you? … Nigger, if I had your god damned ass over in Branden I’d kill you. Before you goddamned black Communist son of a bitch, started coming down here, everything was all right. Niggers down here don’t need to vote — ain’t supposed to vote.”


All during this period of time I was just sitting, only answering questions which seemed half-way reasonable and that I felt were in his jurisdiction to ask. Finally, he told me that if the federal government ever sent troops down to Jackson, he would kill every nigger he met. “Boy, don’t you know that whites are better than niggers?” I told him “No.” He unbuckled his holster, pulled out his gun and swung it at me. It caught me across the knuckles of my right hand.

Continue reading at Civil Right Movement Veterans.


  • Interview by Blackside for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). 1979.


Let Freedom Ring | April 17, 2008
Symposium III | Living History: Activists on Art and Social Justice