Jimmy Rogers

SNCC Legacy Project (SLP)


As remembered by Bruce Hartford
February 19, 2021

I am so sorry to inform the Freedom Movement community that SNCC veteran Jimmy Rogers died of Covid on February 5th. His wife Carolyn has also been hospitalized for Covid, though thankfully as of now she appears to be out of danger — yet still facing a long recovery.

Jimmy was a stalwart of Alabama SNCC and the Tuskegee student movement (TIAL) in the mid 1960s. Here in California he was a founding member of Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement and a close and good friend for all of us.

Jimmy was a frequent participant in our group discussions and story sessions. He always spoke from the heart and his thoughts and comments were always deeply rooted in the rich earth of his lived experience. To recall a term from back in the day, Jimmy was the "Salt of the Earth."

Jimmy Rogers — ¡Presente!


As remembered by Jennifer Lawson

In the 1960s, Most students at Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, saw it as an idyllic place, an oasis of upwardly mobile students and middle class Black professionals connected to a complex history that included the Tuskegee Airmen, a horrific syphilis study, George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. Jimmy Rogers lived and worked outside that artifice in another world and it was my pleasure to work with him between 1964 to 1966 at Tuskegee, as student activists on campus, on marches to the state capitol in Montgomery, and in Lowndes County, Alabama.

We worked together canvassing Macon and Lowndes Country to register Black voters, we marched against racism and discrimination and we were both arrested in Montgomery in March 1965. Jimmy had a maturity and calm that set him apart from the majority of the students. Jimmy was older than many of us and his added years of experience were an asset. He articulated his thoughts carefully and you knew they were well considered and deeply felt. He had a sense of humor that sometimes bubbled to the surface but he was most often occupied by the seriousness of our circumstances, particularly those surrounding the murder of our fellow civil rights worker, Sammy Younge, Jr. in January 1966. Many of us had been in a meeting together along with Sammy only hours before his death.

Jimmy was courageous and even in the face of the physical dangers we encountered in Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Lowndes County, he continued to be unwavering in his commitment to the work. He was dedicated to change, to improving the lives of people, and he avoided the political infighting that could sometimes slow the work. Jimmy was focused and hard-working. Warm, friendly, but clearly a man on a mission. It was a pleasure and honor to have worked with him.


As remembered by Mike Miller
February 19, 2021

Jimmy Rogers was on-the-ground in one of SNCC's most dangerous organizing settings — Lowndes County. He always spoke of it in a matter of fact way, no puffing himself up, no bragging, just telling a story. He had a generous spirit, and a lot of personal warmth. He was a salt-of-the-earth guy.


As remembered by Daphne Muse
February 19, 2021

Such a solid brother, and I deeply respect him as a cofounder of the Veterans. May his spirit March across to Freedomland and rest at peace.


As remembered by Charles (Chuck) Bonner
February 19, 2021



As remembered by Michael F. Wright
February 19, 2021

I remember the night in 1965 when I first met Jimmy in the Macon Co, Alabama, SNCC Freedom House in Tuskegee. For decades we remained the best of friends. My own life, as are the lives of all of us who knew him, is somewhat irrevocably dimnished because of his passing and transcendence.


As remembered by Sharlene Kranz
February 20, 2021

Jimmy and I were both at Tuskegee in 1965, I remember his smile and his humor.


As remembered by Marion Kwan
March 1, 2021

Jimmy Rogers was not the kind who was going to be eloquent in a meeting, although he could be. Jimmy was going to be very present and attentive. That's how I remembered him, when I first started in our veteran's group that he helped found.

A fond memory was at one of those early meetings when he and I departed from Don Jelinek's home and he asked, 'Do you need help getting to your car?' He was kind and caring, unconditionally. A warrior who had to pass away from us...but a warrior I will always embrace.


As remembered by Maria Gitin
March 10, 2021

Jimmy Rogers was instrumental in field work in Monroe, Dallas and Lowndes Counties (AL) as well as Tuskegee where he was a student during the Movement. We met each other much later in life, and stayed in touch until a few years ago. Whenever he saw an old friend, or a new friend, he broke into a big smile and had a warm hug.

I first met Jimmy Rogers through Charles Bonner when he, Jean Wiley, Bruce Hartford, Bettie Mae Fikes, Luke Block and I had a mini-SNCC reunion in Northern California, December 9, 2005. Jimmy and I stood on Charle's deck overlooking the calm waters of Clear Lake. The best way for me to commemorate his is to quote Jimmy himself:

He began talking, "I sat next to Rev. Daniels when they shot him in Haneyville." Jimmy said was so close to Daniels that he had blood all over his sweatshirt. He stared out over the water and said, "After serving five years in the Air Force, being in jail with other SNCC demonstrators the night Viola Luizzo was killed — all that — I had plenty chances to be killed. But when that man with his gun pointed straight at us — I believed I was dead. Sometimes I still can't believe I am alive. But I guess there's a reason for that. Now, I do what I can to keep people going in the right direction. I worked as a probation officer over in Oakland for thirty-one years; I just retired last year. Now I'm part of a group that tries to get prisoners a fair shake, try to get them into drug rehab programs. Just because you are in the prison system shouldn't mean you lose all your rights."

Jimmy reminded me that the SCLC/SNCC offices on Franklin Street were right across the street from the Dallas County Jail where Jim Clark loved to round up and lock up civil rights workers. "That way you didn't have far to go if you got arrested and then we you got out, you could go right back to work." He chuckled at that memory.

Years later, at another reunion, he said that he had been in Marion the night Jimmy Lee Jackson was killed and that he was with other Tuskegee students who found Sammy Younge when he was shot behind a service station trying to use the whites only bathroom. I asked him what he thought about being so near so many civil rights deaths. He said he must have been spared so he could carry on the work. And he did indeed. He will be missed.

Quoted from This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight, University of Alabama Press.

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