Chapter 46- redefining racial equality

SNCC Stands Up for Black Power

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SNCC Stands Up for Black Power

A year after Malcolm X’s death, SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael introduced the idea of black power to the civil rights movement. Black power had a variety of meanings, such as political power, economic power, and pride in being black. In a speech on black power, Carmichael observed that,

This country knows what power is. It knows it very well. And it knows what Black Power is ’cause it deprived black people of it for 400 years. So it knows what Black Power is . . .

We are on the move for our liberation . . . The question is, Will white people overcome their racism and allow for that to happen in this country? If that does not happen, brothers and sisters, we have no choice but to say very clearly, “Move over, or we’re going to move on over you.”

—Stokely Carmichael, speech in Berkeley, California, 1966

Carmichael went on to convert SNCC from an integrated organization to an all-black organization. “We cannot have white people working in the black community,” he argued. “Black people must be seen in positions of power, doing and articulating [speaking] for themselves.”

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