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Sat, 10.29.1966

Stokley Carmichael Gives His ‘Black Power’ Speech

Stokley Carmichael

On this date in 1966, Stokely Carmichael,  chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), gave his famous Black Power speech.

He spoke at a Greenwood, Mississippi, rally debating for Black Power in America. Carmichael defined this as "a call for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, and to build a sense of community." He also advocated that African Americans should form and lead their organizations and urged a complete rejection of the values of white-American society.  Some civil rights groups, such as the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), rejected his ideas and accused him of Black racism.

Carmichael also adopted the slogan "Black is Beautiful" and advocated a sense of black pride in blacks, rejecting white values of style and appearance. This included adopting Afro hairstyles and African forms of dress. When Carmichael denounced American involvement in the Vietnam War, his passport was confiscated and held for ten months. When his passport was returned, he moved with his wife, Miriam Makeba, to Guinea, West Africa, later known as Kwame Ture.  In Africa, he wrote the book Stokely Speaks Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism (1971).

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From deep sleep I sat upright And clutched his new lapels, For he was laughing. Back from the dead He came, I say, Laughing I asked not "Are you not dead?" But "What is it?" His talcum chin, And pebbles eyes, And... NIGHTMARE by James Emanuel.
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