student non violent coordinating committee

Having worked out how to manage governments, political parties, elections, courts, the media and liberal opinion, there was one more challenge for the neo-liberal establishment: how to deal with growing unrest, the threat of “people’s power”. How do you domesticate it? How do you turn protesters into pets? How do you vacuum up people’s fury and redirect it into blind alleys?

Here too, foundations and their allied organisations have a long and illustrious history. A revealing example is their role in defusing and deradicalising the Black Civil Rights movement in the US in the 1960s and the successful transformation of Black Power into Black Capitalism.

The Rockefeller Foundation, in keeping with J.D. Rockefeller’s ideals, had worked closely with Martin Luther King Sr (father of Martin Luther King Jr). But his influence waned with the rise of the more militant organisations—the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Black Panthers. The Ford and Rockefeller Foundations moved in. In 1970, they donated $15 million to “moderate” black organisations, giving people grants, fellowships, scholarships, job training programmes for dropouts and seed money for black-owned businesses. Repression, infighting and the honey trap of funding led to the gradual atrophying of the radical black organisations.

Martin Luther King, Jr. made the forbidden connections between Capitalism, Imperialism, Racism and the Vietnam War. As a result, after he was assassinated, even his memory became a toxic threat to public order. Foundations and Corporations worked hard to remodel his legacy to fit a market-friendly format. The Martin Luther King Junior Centre for Non-Violent Social Change, with an operational grant of $2 million, was set up by, among others, the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Mobil, Western Electric, Procter & Gamble, US Steel and Monsanto. The Center maintains the King Library and Archives of the Civil Rights Movement. Among the many programmes the King Center runs have been projects that “work closely with the United States Department of Defense, the Armed Forces Chaplains Board and others”. It co-sponsored the Martin Luther King Jr Lecture Series called ‘The Free Enterprise System: An Agent for Non-violent Social Change’.

—  Arundhati Roy, “Capitalism: A Ghost Story”

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday - the day when a March of about 600 people, organized by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama seeking equal voting rights for people of color generally, particularly African Americans, who were consistently denied the right to vote through unequal scrutiny at registration, fabrication of requirements which made registration impossible, blatant denial of entry into registration centers, and lack of access to registration centers -to name a few barriers. The bridge, named after a confederate who after the Civil War became a leader in the Klu Klux Klan and then a State Senator, lived up to the legacy of the name it was given on that Sunday as protesters were met by State Troopers on the other side. Armed with tear gas and billy clubs the Troopers attacked the non-violent activists, sending over 50 to the hospital with serious injuries. Though these activists would return to this bridge to fight for voting rights twice more, the history remembered on this day in particular, Bloody Sunday, reminds us of a national reality that still permeates and plagues our country: this country did not have all people in mind when the constitution was signed and we must continue marching across streets named after Klansmen in search of systemic change towards true equality. May we remember this tragedy today in action and word.

I want to honor the memory of the great civil rights activist Julian Bond, who died yesterday at the age of 75. As he often noted, Mr. Bond was from several generations of college graduates (his father, Horace Mann Bond, was the first Black president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania) but spent the bulk of his life reaching out to help others gain equality in education and civil rights. I gratefully acknowledge the decades of fearless service and leadership of Julian Bond and extend my condolences to his wife Pamela and his family. This photo of Mr. Bond with members of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (he was a co-founder) was taken by the legendary photographer Richard Avedon on March 23, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sisters in the Struggle : African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement edited by Bettye Collier-Thomas and V.P. Franklin

Women were at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, but their individual stories were rarely heard. Only recently have historians begun to recognize the central role women played in the battle for racial equality.

In Sisters in the Struggle, we hear about the unsung heroes of the civil rights movements such as Ella Baker, who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper who took on segregation in the Democratic party (and won), and Septima Clark, who created a network of “Citizenship Schools” to teach poor Black men and women to read and write and help them to register to vote. We learn of Black women’s activism in the Black Panther Party where they fought the police, as well as the entrenched male leadership, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, where the behind-the-scenes work of women kept the organization afloat when it was under siege.


Kwame Toure, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, is a man that is often unheard of and rarely spoken about. Born in Trinidad,  at a very young age he knew the importance of education. He moved to New York at the age of eleven, where he would eventually be accepted into the prestigious Bronx High School of Science with his outstanding Academics. After Graduation, he attended Howard University which changed his life. While in school, he began to become very active in Black organizations and was a huge advocate of Civil Rights. His life is very interesting because at first he was a huge supporter of Martin Luther King’s Non-Violent Philosophy. He joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and participated in Freedom rides all over the country for the next 3 years. During his time in the group, he was arrested over 29 times for his efforts to register Blacks to vote. The Police and many other Whites were brutal to young Kwame and he was often viciously beaten, spit on, hit with cans, and sometimes even lit cigarettes. It was these experiences that caused him to change his philosophy. Kwame now believed in self-defense and said it was a god given right of man to defend himself.“In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has None.” He then joined the Black Panther Party but did not stay long. He did not agree with the Panthers allowing Whites to help them. He believed that White aid would erode Black Self-Reliance and agreed, wholeheartedly, with Malcolm X that White activists should organize their own communities first. He later joined Kwame Nkrumah’s All African People’s Revolutionary Party, where he spent over 30 years as a devout leader. The reason he changed his name was to honor his mentor Kwame Nkrumah and idol Sekou Toure. Kwame Toure is revolutionary that should never be forgotten. He dedicated his life to his people and liberating their struggle. He was the first to coin the term “Institutional Racism” so when you hear the phrase, you are looking at the legacy of this genius. In time, he would die from cancer and in his last words he would shout, “Organize, Organize, Organize!!!!” Written by @KingKwajo

“A lot of people refuse to do things because they don’t want to go naked, don’t want to go without guarantee. But that’s what’s got to happen. You go naked until you die.”

Nikki Giovanni is one of the best-known African-American poets who reached prominence during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Her unique and insightful poetry testifies to her own evolving awareness and experiences: from child to young woman, from naive college freshman to seasoned civil rights activist, from daughter to mother. Frequently anthologized, Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride and respect for family. Her informal style makes her work accessible to both adults and children. In addition to collections such as Re: Creation (1970), Love Poems (1997), and The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003), Giovanni has published several works of nonfiction, children’s literature and recordings, including the Emmy-award nominated The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection (2004). A frequent lecturer and reader, Giovanni has taught at Rutgers University, Ohio State University, and Virginia Tech.

Giovanni was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1943, the younger of two daughters in a close-knit family. She gained an intense appreciation for her African-American heritage from her outspoken grandmother, explaining in an interview, “I come from a long line of storytellers.” This early exposure to the power of spoken language influenced Giovanni’s career as a poet, particularly in her propensity towards colloquial speech. When Giovanni was a young child, she moved with her parents from Knoxville to a predominantly black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio but remained close to her grandmother. Giovanni was encouraged by several schoolteachers and enrolled early at Fisk University, a prestigious, all-black college in Nashville, Tennessee. A black renaissance was emerging at Fisk, as writers and other artists of color were finding new ways of expressing their distinct culture. In addition to serving as editor of the campus literary magazine and participating in the Fisk Writers Workshop, Giovanni worked to restore the Fisk chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Giovanni graduated with a B.A. in history in 1968 and went on to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University in New York

Giovanni’s first published volumes of poetry grew out of her response to the assassinations of such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and Robert Kennedy, and the pressing need she saw to raise awareness of the plight and the rights of black people. Black Feeling, Black Talk (1967) and Black Judgement (1968) display a strong, militant African-American perspective as Giovanni explores her growing political and spiritual awareness. These early books, followed by Re: Creation (1970), quickly established Giovanni as a prominent new African-American voice. Black Feeling, Black Talk sold over ten thousand copies in its first year alone. Giovanni gave her first public reading to a packed audience at Birdland, the famous New York City jazz spot. Critical reaction to Giovanni’s early work focused on her more revolutionary poetry. Some reviewers found her political and social positions to be unsophisticated, while others were threatened by her rebelliousness. 

However, Giovanni’s first three volumes of poetry were enormously successful, answering a need for inspiration, anger, and solidarity in those who read them. She publicly expressed the feelings of people who had felt voiceless, finding new audiences beyond the usual poetry-reading public. Black Judgement sold six thousand copies in three months, almost six times the sales level expected of a poetry book. As she travelled to speaking engagements at colleges around the country, Giovanni was often hailed as one of the leading black poets of the new black renaissance. The prose poem “Nikki-Rosa,” Giovanni’s reminiscence of her childhood in a close-knit African-American home, was first published in Black Judgement. The poem expanded her appeal and became her most beloved and most anthologized work. During this time, she also made television appearances, later published as conversations with Margaret Walker and James Baldwin.

In 1969, Giovanni took a teaching position at Rutgers University. That year she also gave birth to her son, Thomas. Giovanni’s work shifted focus after the birth of her son and she made several recordings of her poetry set against a gospel or jazz backdrop. In addition to writing her own poetry, Giovanni offered exposure for other African-American women writers through NikTom, Ltd., a publishing cooperative she founded in 1970. Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, Carolyn Rodgers, and Mari Evans were among those who benefited from Giovanni’s work. Travels to other parts of the world, including the Caribbean, also filled much of the poet’s time and contributed to the evolution of her work. As she broadened her perspective, Giovanni began to review her own life. Her introspection led to Gemini: An Extended Autobiographical Statement on My First Twenty-five Years of Being a Black Poet (1971), which earned a nomination for the National Book Award.

In addition to writing for adults in Gemini and other works during the early 1970s, Giovanni began to compose verse for children. Among her published volumes for young readers are Spin a Soft Black Song (1971), Ego-Tripping and Other Poems for Young People (1973), and Vacation Time (1980). Written for children of all ages, Giovanni’s poems are unrhymed incantations of childhood images and feelings which also focus on African-American history and explore issues and concerns specific to black youngsters. Giovanni’s later works for children include Knoxville, Tennessee (1994), The Sun Is So Quiet (1996) and Lincoln and Douglass: An American Friendship (2008). Giovanni’s children’s book Rosa (2005) was awarded a Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Giovanni’s popularity as a speaker and lecturer increased along with her success as a poet and children’s author. She received numerous awards for her work, including honors from the National Council of Negro Women and the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers. She was featured in articles for such magazines as Ebony, Jet, and Harper’s Bazaar. She also continued to travel, making trips to Europe and Africa, and her increasingly sophisticated and nuanced world view is reflected in her work from the period. Giovanni’s maturity is highlighted in My House (1972). Her viewpoint, the black revolutionary which made her famous, now includes a wide range of social concerns. Her rhymes are more pronounced, more lyrical, and gentler. Family love, loneliness, and frustration—themes which Giovanni had raged over in her earlier works—find softer expression. When Giovanni published Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day (1978), critics viewed it as one of her most somber works, full of emotional ups and downs, fear and insecurity, and the weight of everyday responsibilities.

Giovanni’s next book, Those Who Ride the Night Winds (1983), echoes the political activism of her early work as she dedicates various pieces to Phillis Wheatley, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. As Giovanni has moved through her middle years, her work has continued to reflect her changing concerns and perspectives. The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni, 1968-1995 (1996), which spans the first three decades of her career, was heralded by Booklist critic Donna Seaman as a “rich synthesis [that] reveals the evolution of Giovanni’s voice and charts the course of the social issues that are her muses, issues of gender and race.” Twenty of the fifty-three works collected in Love Poems (1997) find the writer musing on subjects as diverse as friendship, sexual desire, motherhood, and loneliness, while the remainder of the volume includes relevant earlier works.

Giovanni continues to supplement her poetry with occasional volumes of nonfiction. In her collection Racism 101 (1994), she looks back at her experiences of the civil rights movement and its aftermath. The book is a rich source of impressions of other black intellectuals, including writer and activist W.E.B. DuBois, writers Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Toni Morrison, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and filmmaker Spike Lee. In addition to publishing original writings, Giovanni has edited poetry collections like the highly praised Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Like My Sister Kate (1996), a compilation of works composed by African-American writers during the Harlem Renaissance.

Two volumes, Blues: For All the Changes (1999) and Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems (2002) mark the crossover for Giovanni from the 20th to the 21st century. Blues, published after a battle with lung cancer and her first volume of poetry in five years, “offers thoughts on her battle with illness, on nature, and on the everyday—all laced with doses of harsh reality, a mix of socio-political viewpoints, and personal memories of loss,” wrote Denolynn Carroll of American Visions. Quilting includes, as the title suggests, “anecdotes, musings, and praise songs,” according to Tara Betts of Black Issues Book Review. In 2003, Giovanni published The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection, an audio compilation. Spanning her poetry from 1968 to the present and ranging in content from motherhood to Emmett Till. “On the page, much of Giovanni’s writing seems rhetorical,” claimed Rochelle Ratner in Library Journal, but “hearing her read, dogma is replaced by passion.” Bauers praised the production: “The poems are worth the price all by themselves. Giovanni reads with gobs of energy and enthusiasm. Hers is the poetry of plainspeak.”

Giovanni has published no fewer than five books of poetry in the ten years since Blues. Her omnibus The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni (2003) collects poetry from each of her eleven volumes of poetry and includes a chronology and extensive notes for each selection. A review from Publishers Weekly noted that Giovanni’s “outspoken advocacy, her consciousness of roots in oral traditions, and her charismatic delivery place her among the forebearers of present-day slam and spoken-word scenes.” Giovanni is an avid supporter of slam, spoken-word and hip-hop, calling the latter “the modern equivalent of what spirituals meant to earlier generations of blacks.” Her writing continues to be accessible and impassioned in books like The Prosaic Soul of Nikki Giovanni (2003) and Acolytes (2007), though critics have noted a certain mellowing in tone. Bicycles: Love Poems (2009) was a follow-up to her earlier Love Poems. “Love is kept in check by age and experience,” wrote John Stoehr for the Charleston City Paper. “Giovanni doesn’t allow it to overwhelm her, as she did the righteous indignation in her youth. Love requires trust and balance, she writes, just like riding a bike.”

Giovanni has received numerous awards and accolades for her work including multiple NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award and over twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities around the country. Giovanni has even had a species of bat named after her, the Micronycteris giovanniae. Giovanni taught at Virginia Tech during the tragic shooting in 2007 and composed a chant-poem which she read at the memorial service the day after. Of the poem, Giovanni said in an interview with the Virginian-Pilot “I try to be honest in my work, and I thought the only thing I can do at that point—because all I knew was that we are Virginia Tech. This was not Virginia Tech.”

Her more recent works include Acolytes, a collection of 80 new poems, and On My Journey Now. Acolytes is her first published volume since her 2003 Collected Poems. The work is a celebration of love and recollection directed at friends and loved ones and it recalls memories of nature, theater, and the
glories of children. However, Giovanni’s fiery persona still remains a
constant undercurrent in Acolytes, as some of the most serious
verse links her own life struggles (being a black woman and a cancer
survivor) to the wider frame of African-American history and the
continual fight for equality.

Giovanni’s collection Bicycles: Love Poems (2009) is a companion work to her 1997 Love Poems.They touch on the deaths of both her mother and her sister, as well as the massacre on the Virginia Tech campus. “Tragedy and trauma are the wheels” of the bicycle. The first poem (“Blacksburg Under Siege: 21 August 2006”) and the last poem (“We Are Virginia Tech”) reflect this. Giovanni chose the title of the collection as a metaphor for love
itself, “because love requires trust and balance. In Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid (2013), Giovanni describes falling off of a bike and her mother saying, “Come here, Nikki and I will pick you up.” She has explained that it was comforting to hear her mother say this, and that “it took me the longest to realize – no, she made me get up myself.”

Chasing Utopia continues as a hybrid (poetry and prose) work about food
as a metaphor and as a connection to the memory of her mother, sister,
and grandmother. The theme of the work is love relationships.In 2004, Giovanni was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards for her album The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection.This was a collection of poems that she read against the backdrop of gospel music.

She also featured on the track “Ego Trip by Nikki Giovanni” on Blackalicious’s 2000 album Nia. In November 2008, a song cycle of her poems, Sounds That Shatter the Staleness in Lives by Adam Hill, was premiered as part of the Soundscapes Chamber Music Series in Taos, New Mexico.She was commissioned by National Public Radio’s All Things Considered to create an inaugural poem for President Barack Obama. Giovanni read poetry at the Lincoln Memorial as a part of the bi-centennial celebration of Lincoln’s birth on February 12, 2009.

“Writing is … what I do to justify the air I breathe,” Giovanni wrote, explaining her choice of a vocation in Contemporary Authors. “I have been considered a writer who writes from rage and it confuses me. What else do writers write from? A poem has to say something. It has to make some sort of sense; be lyrical; to the point; and still able to be read by whatever reader is kind enough to pick up the book.”

Kwame Ture (Formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) on Unity of Thought, the Los Angeles Rebellion, Political Education, Organization, Discipline and Knowledge

[We] have unity of action; we lack unity of thought. Look at Los Angeles; here you have clear unity of action. If I went to Los Angeles the day before Rodney King was charged, and I said “look here brothers and sisters, they’re going to let these pigs get away free! We gots to organize, we needs to get some guns, we needs to get some Molotov cocktails-” “Oh, he’s just talking.”

But the minute at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when the decision went down, they didn’t even listen to Malcolm who said “after dark for even-steven,” they went in to the streets at 3 o'clock. And an entire people who were fighting each other, cutting each other, disgusted with each other, came together in a unified force and took on the second largest city in the greatest imperialist power in the world, and made them bring in their army to suppress them. We have unity of action. What we lack is unity of though.

Unity of action without guidance of unity of thought leads one into a reactionary position. Our people have unity of action, but this unity of action is usually triggered by an enemy action. For example, it’s only when they have an incident in Howard Beach that everyone jump up like if Howard beach all of a sudden changed; it’s the same thing. And after they jump up and make a little noise, after a while they just sit right back down and say, “oh, Lord, please don’t let them shoot nobody else while I’m alive so I don’t have to go out there and make no protest. Please wait until I die.”

Rodney King gets beat up, what’s new about it? I’ve been dealing with the Los Angeles pigs since I was in the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. And I know the pigs in Los Angeles. They are the most vicious that you can find any place in this country. They have in Los Angeles what they call a choke-hold. The police puts it on you. You go look and see how many been killed by the choke-hold. It’s your history, you’re supposed to know it. The police must bring the people back into being intimidated. They must do it.

But this unity of action which we have can only come to stop the police at certain times for certain periods because it’s spontaneous. A people will never win a war through spontaneous action. You can only win a war through planned action. You give me 100 organized brothers and sisters, and let us face 10,000 disorganized with the same weapons. as Africa is my mother, we’ll whoop them every time, hands down. Kwame Nkrumah said, “it is organization that decides everything.” And the fact that we’re disorganized proves it because we decide absolutely nothing.

In order to have unity of thought we must have collective thinking. One of the biggest problems with our movement is that we got so many individual stars and superstars. They are not disciplined to any organization. Organization disciplines you, and we are an undisciplined people. If you are just a member of the NAACP, it’s a nice Spring afternoon, you want to go out and lollygag but the NAACP has a meeting, if you’re disciplined, you go to the meeting. How many of us can actually say that we on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, go to meetings for organizations, and help to push these organizations forward through collective thinking? It’s not done.

And most cases, most organizations don’t even have political education programs built in the organization. As a member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee we had none. As a member of the Black Panther Party we had none. Absolutely none. As a matter of fact, when I tried to bring it, “oh you’re just a bourgeois college student!” “That’s right, Jack! And an honor roll student at that! That’s right. Not only that Jack, I took philosophy, and dig this: everything I get I give back to my people.” Does it make sense to you that you are the leader of a movement, you have 1,000 people who are following, and you are the only one who can see better than all these thousand? That’s stupidity. One woman may be more intelligent than one man, that’s a fact. But no one man can have more experiences than two people. And it’s experience that brings knowledge.

Sit down and read a book with a stupid man. Let him read the same book. Come back and discuss it: he will show you stupid things to show you how stupid you were ‘cause you didn’t even see it. These are facts.

As a people, we have no collective reading, no collective study, no collective thinking. This is our greatest error as a people. This is our greatest shortcoming as a people. This is why we can’t even discuss who we are. Because somebody think they Black-American and that’s what they think, and “what I think is what I think!” Like you think you think you can think. Half the time they aren’t thinking, reacting to stimuli, and think they thinking. Unless we do collective reading and collective discussion, we cannot come to unified thought.

Of course, the enemy will confuse you. Capitalist system will tell you, “you can think whatever you think. That’s it!” Man told me that the other day. I said, “you African,” he said “I don’t think that.” I said “you think you’re thinking,” He said “I don’t care what you say. I ain’t no African, and that’s what I think and what I think is right.” I said, “Okay, please. Think that 2 plus 2 equals 5. Think it.”

No man, no woman, is born with the truth inside of them; not one. All of us come to acquire the truth by searching for it. First of all, we must even have a desire to know the truth. Acquisition of knowledge is directly related to the desire for knowledge. If you do not desire knowledge you will never acquire knowledge. Once you understand that your people are oppressed because they lack knowledge, if you love your people, you seek knowledge. If you love your people, you seek knowledge. And we understand this knowledge cannot be individual knowledge, it must be collective knowledge. Unity of thought must come.

We are concluding but we say what we always say. We will never tire of saying it because it’s the truth. If you love your people, join an organization fighting for your people. Where is the problem?

Why We Should Never Forget Malcolm X On His Birthday

The self-defined “Black Nationalist Freedom Fighter” Minister Malcolm X would have been 89 years old on May 19, 2014. While the American spin doctors have been largely successful in shaping a narrative of Dr. Martin Luther King into a two second sound bite of “I have a dream”, they have been less victorious in painting Malcolm into the corner of “By any means necessary”. The image makers of society are more than happy to dismiss Malcolm X and leave him in the dusk bin of history as irrelevant. These two iconic martyrs of the 1960’s era are still dangerous to the status-quo today in 2014, if properly researched and understood.

They both were real human beings, with strengths and shortcomings. They were not angelic figures without faults. They were sons, husbands, fathers etc. just like many of us. They both were apart of organizations, Martin (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), Malcolm (Nation of Islam, later Organization for Afro-American Unity & Muslim Mosque Inc.). These men didn’t not operate as lone superstars, rather were key figures in their respective organizations and a larger movement with many formations.

Minister Malcolm X stood at the crossroads in many ways for great contributing groups to the African/Black community in America and around the world. Looking backward and forward in his life we will find him intersecting and influencing formations including: Universal Negro Improvement Association, Nation of Islam, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Black Panther Party, Revolutionary Action Movement, Republic of New Africa, African Independence Movements/Countries, Civil Rights and Black Power formations of all stripes. His analysis and communication skills are worthy of our attention today.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley, his speeches “Message to the Grassroots” and “The Ballot or the Bullet” are good starting points for study. It is our responsibility to define for ourselves who and what is important in our history. Minister Malcolm X is very important, happy birthday ancestor!

Written by Kofi Taharka


Brother Malcolm “ El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz” X


November 15th 1998: Stokely Carmichael dies

On this day in 1998, civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael died aged 57. Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in 1941, Carmichael moved to the United States when he was eleven. An intelligent youth, Carmichael was admitted to the prestigious Bronx High School, where the majority of his classmates were wealthy white teenagers. Acutely aware of the racial injustices of American society, Carmichael joined the Civil Rights Movement upon seeing footage of a sit-in on television. After graduating high school in 1960, Carmichael studied philosophy at Howard University in Washington D.C., but still participated in freedom rides; he was jailed for 49 days in Jackson, Mississippi for entering a ‘whites only’ bus stop. In 1964, he joined the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and became an effective field organiser charged with registering black voters in the Deep South. While working in Lowndes County, Alabama, Carmichael founded his own political party, choosing a black panther as its logo. Despite initially adhering to Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent philosophy, Carmichael became frustrated with the slow progress of the movement, and upon becoming national chairman of SNCC in May 1966 rejected the group’s white members. In October, Carmichael made the speech for which he is best remembered - his defiant ‘Black Power’ address at University of California, Berkeley. The phrase quickly became a rallying cry for younger, more radical activists who advocated black separatism instead of the nonviolent doctrine of racial integration. This new approach was exemplified by the Blank Panther party, which Carmichael became the leader of in 1967, arguing for black nationalism and pan-Africanism. It was in the pursuit of this latter cause that Carmichael spent the rest of his life in Conakry, Guinea, changing his name to Kwame Toure. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1985, and died in 1998.

“We been saying freedom for six years and we ain’t got nothing. What we gonna start saying now is Black Power!”

It’s been three months and this is still my favorite thing and by “favorite” I mean mind-bogglingly terrible and uniformed behavior from a member of the US House of Representatives. 

Rep. John Lewis was participating in and helping to organize sit-ins before this guy was even born. Including the famous sit-ins this idiot is talking about. John Lewis was a founding member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee and was elected as its leader. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr., helped organize Black people to register to vote in the south, participated in and helped organize freedom rides, and had his skull fractured being beaten for fighting for his rights and kept doing it anyway. 

This white man has no business criticizing the sit-in cred of a literal living civil rights icon. 

Like, does Rep. Mark Walker not know that the Rep. John Lewis who led the gun control sit-in on the House floor is the same one who marched in Selma with Dr. King? I mean honestly did he not know because I can’t see any other way he thought this tweet was a good idea?? But like it’s still up and I would think if he’d made it out of ignorance he would have deleted it once being informed (which many people on twitter did)?? 

You know what would be cool is if the good people of the North Carolina Sixth District voted this piece of crap out of office on November 8th. Pete Glidewell is running against him as a democrat. 

Danny Lyon     Bob Dylan Playing on the Back Porch of the Civil Rights Activist Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Office, Greenwood, Mississippi      1963