Employing a unique sample of participants in the early Nashville civil rights movement, we extend the micromobilization literature by conceptualizing “preparation pathways” (or schooling channels) through which activists acquire insurgent consciousness and capital so crucial for committed, effective, high-risk activism. We identify two key pathways in which activists were “schooled” in nonviolent praxis—experience in nonviolent direct action prior to the Nashville movement and training through intensive, highly organized, and disciplined workshops on nonviolence praxis. Evidence suggests that both pathways prove especially efficacious in accounting for intensity and persistence of movement direct-action participation. The implications of our findings extend to high-risk movement activism more generally and also illuminate an important chapter in the southern civil rights movement. Activists are not a homogeneous lot. Instead they move through multiple paths accumulating diverse cultural and relational endowments that they bring into movements. Once there, these endowments can shape the intensity and persistence of participation in struggle.

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