1966 June 16

“Black Power!” A Slogan is Born


Civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael uttered the phrase “Black Power” in Mississippi on this day while continuing the March Against Fear, started by James Meredith, on June 6, 1966. Meredith was shot on the first day of the march, and other civil rights leaders vowed to continue it. (Meredith had integrated the University of Mississippi on September 25, 1962, amid massive violent resistance.) Much of white America freaked out over the slogan “Black Power,” equating it with violence rather than political or economic action. Carmichael was one of the leaders of SNCC, founded on April 15, 1960, the most militant of civil rights organizations in the 1960s.

Within just a few years, largely as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (August 6, 1965), African-Americans did in fact achieve an unprecedented degree of political power with the election of public officials at all levels of government. By the late 1970s, Mississippi had more elected African-American officials than any other state. And on March 30, 1971, African-American members of Congress organized the Congressional Black Caucus.

What Stokely Carmichael actually said: “This is the twenty-seventh time I have been arrested and I ain’t going to jail no more! The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin’ us is to take over. What we gonna start sayin’ now is Black Power!”

Read: Peniel Joseph, Stokely: A Life (2014)

Find Original Black Power Documents: http://www.crmvet.org/info/bpwrhome.htm

Hear Stokely’s 1966 Black Power speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjvdHaOqiYI

Learn more about Stokely Carmichael: http://www.blackpast.org/1966-stokely-carmichael-black-power-0

Read Stokely Carmichael’s FBI Filehttp://vault.fbi.gov/Stokely%20Carmichael

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