Carmichael, Stokely

Carmichael, Stokely
▪ 1999

      Trinidadian-born civil rights leader and black nationalist (b. June 29, 1941, Port of Spain, Trinidad—d. Nov. 15, 1998, Conakry, Guinea), originated the slogan "black power," urged African-Americans in the United States to abandon nonviolent protests in favour of more radical—even revolutionary—tactics, and advocated Pan-Africanism. Carmichael immigrated to the United States at the age of 11 and attended the predominantly white Bronx High School of Science in New York City. While a student at Howard University, Washington, D.C., he joined the Freedom Riders, activists who traveled by bus throughout the South to challenge segregationist transportation laws. After graduating (A.B., 1964) he led a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, popularly pronounced "snick") voter-registration drive in Lowndes county, Ala., that raised the number of registered black voters from 70 to 2,600. Although candidates of the newly created Lowndes County Freedom Organization were defeated in the November 1966 election, the political party and its panther logo served to inspire the creation of the militant Black Panther Party. After witnessing the brutality inflicted upon nonviolent civil-rights demonstrators, Carmichael supported more aggressive methods of protest. Within weeks of being chosen in 1966 as chairman of SNCC, he electrified and alarmed the nation with calls for black power, and he was seen as an indirect contributor to the fiery riots that burned through U.S. inner cities that summer. His essay "What We Want," published in the New York Review of Books in September 1966, defended black power as a philosophy "because this country does not function by morality, love, and nonviolence, but by power. Thus, we determined to win political power, with the idea of moving on from there into activity that would have economic effects." He argued for social upheaval and the "liberation" of the country's black ghettoes, and he staunchly defended his militancy: "No one ever talked about 'white power' because power in this country is white . . . the furor over 'black power' reveals how deep racism runs and the great fear which is attached to it." While his writings focused on the community-building aspects of black power, his rhetoric became more inflammatory. He was ousted from SNCC leadership in 1967 but then was made honorary prime minister of the Black Panthers. Opposing a decision by the Black Panther leadership to seek support among white groups, Carmichael left the U.S. for Guinea in 1969, urging other African-Americans to follow him. He adopted the name Kwame Ture after the Guinean president Ahmed Sékou Touré and the deposed Ghanian leader Kwame Nkrumah—both early proponents of Pan-Africanism—and redirected his efforts toward Pan-Africanism through leadership in the All-African People's Revolutionary Party. He blamed "imperialistic forces" for the prostate cancer that eventually claimed his life, but his spirit remained unbowed—he continued to answer the telephone with the emphatic pledge "Ready for the revolution!" He was coauthor, with Charles V. Hamilton, of Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (1967) and compiled his speeches in Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism (1971).

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▪ West Indian-American activist
original name  of Kwame Toure  
born June 29, 1941, Port of Spain, Trinidad
died Nov. 15, 1998, Conakry, Guinea
 West-Indian-born civil-rights activist, leader of black nationalism in the United States in the 1960s and originator of its rallying slogan, “black power.”

      Carmichael immigrated to New York City in 1952, attended high school in the Bronx, and enrolled at Howard University in 1960. There he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Nonviolent Action Group. In 1961 Carmichael was one of several Freedom Riders (Freedom Rides) who traveled through the South challenging segregation laws in interstate transportation. For his participation he was arrested and jailed for about 50 days in Jackson, Miss.

      Carmichael continued his involvement with the civil rights movement and SNCC after his graduation with honours from Howard University in 1964. That summer he joined SNCC in Lowndes county, Alabama, for an African-American voter registration drive and helped to organize the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, an independent political party. A black panther was chosen as the party's emblem, a powerful image later adopted in homage by the Black Panther Party.

      During this period Carmichael and others associated with SNCC supported the nonviolence approach to desegregation espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. (King, Martin Luther, Jr.), but Carmichael was becoming increasingly frustrated, having witnessed beatings and murders of several civil-rights activists. In 1966 he became the chairman of SNCC, and during a march in Mississippi he rallied demonstrators in founding the “black power” movement, which espoused self-defense tactics, self-determination, political and economic power, and racial pride. This controversial split from King's ideology of nonviolence and racial integration was seen by moderate blacks as detrimental to the civil-rights cause and was viewed with apprehension by many whites.

      Before leaving SNCC in 1968, Carmichael traveled abroad speaking out against political and economic repression and denouncing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Upon his return, Carmichael's passport was confiscated and held for 10 months. He left the United States in 1969 and moved with his first wife (1968–79), South African singer Miriam Makeba, to Guinea, West Africa. He also changed his name to Kwame Toure in honour of two early proponents of Pan-Africanism, Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah and Guinean Sékou Touré. Carmichael helped to establish the All-African People's Revolutionary Party, an international political party dedicated to Pan-Africanism and the plight of Africans worldwide. In 1971 he wrote Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Stokely Carmichael — [Stokely Carmichael] (1941–98) an African American leader of the 1960s who introduced the idea of ‘black power’. He led the ↑Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1966 and was later a member of the ↑Black Panthers. In 1969 he moved to… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Stokely Carmichael — Infobox revolution biography name = Stokely Carmichael lived = June 29, 1941ndash November 15, 1998 dateofbirth = birth date|1941|6|29|mf=y placeofbirth = flagicon|Trinidad and TobagoPort of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago dateofdeath = death date and …   Wikipedia

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  • Carmichael —   [kɑː maɪkl], Stokely, amerikanischer Bürgerrechtler und einer der Führer der Black Power Bewegung, * Port of Spain (Trinidad) 29. 6. 1941, ✝ Conakry 15. 11. 1998; studierte Philosophie; leitete 1966 67 die sich radikalisierende… …   Universal-Lexikon

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  • Stokely Carmichael: Black Power (1966) — ▪ Primary Source       What has been called the Civil Rights Revolution took many forms in the twenty two years between the end of World War II and 1967. At first a movement to obtain such reforms as desegregation of the armed forces, it quickly… …   Universalium

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