File #3516: "ms113.0010_transcript.pdf"


New American Gazette: Transcript of Stokely Carmichael
Moakley Archive and Institute

Title: New American Gazette: Stokely Carmichael’s speech, “Black Power” at Ford Hall Forum.
Recording Date: 21 February 1991
Item Information: The New American Gazette: Stokely Carmichael’s speech, “Black Power,”
at Ford Hall Forum. Ford Hall Forum Collection, 1908-2013 (MS113.3.1, item 0010) Moakley
Archive, Suffolk University, Boston, MA.
Digital Versions: audio recording and transcript available at
Copyright Information: Copyright © 1991 Ford Hall Forum.
Recording Summary:
Stokely Carmichael, a leader in the civil rights struggle and chairman of the Student Non-Violent
Coordinating Committee, appeared at Boston's Ford Hall Forum in 1966 advocating for the
Black Power movement as a means to reclaim Black Americans’ history and identity. This forum
was rebroadcast in 1991, with an introduction by Donald Stewart, as part of the New American
Gazette radio program.

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Transcript Begins

INTRODUCTION: From Boston, the Ford Hall Forum presents the New American Gazette
with guest host Donald Stewart

DONALD STEWART: Black power. These were the words that guided Stokely Carmichael as
a civil rights leader in 1966. To the man who stood in the forefront of the black power
movement, black power meant black Americans gaining political and economic control over
their lives and their communities. He urged blacks to reject the values of white middle class
America, reject integration, and called for meeting violence with violence.

Integration, he taught, was simply an effort to allow blacks to enter the white community from
which they had been excluded with no regard for the existence of merits of the black community.
He called for the development of the black community as a functional, honorable segment of the
total society with its own culture, identify, life patterns and institutions.

Born in Trinidad, Stokely Carmichael came to the United States at the age of eleven and was
raised in Harlem. Turning down scholarships to white universities, he received a bachelor's
degree in philosophy from Howard University in 1964. In 1966, at the age of 25, he was named
chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, also known as SNCC. "I
believe," he said, "SNCC is trying to lay the foundation for a revolution because reform
movements will not solve the socioeconomic problems facing us." Stokely Carmichael played a
key role in shifting SNCC's orientation from peaceful integration to black liberation.

Leaving SNCC in 1968, to join the Black Panthers, he resigned as that organization's prime
minister in 1969, citing irreconcilable philosophical differences with Eldridge Cleaver. Stokely
Carmichael, known today as Kwame Ture, resides in Guinea and travels to this country,
lecturing to student groups on the issues of revolution and blacks returning to Africa.

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This week, the New American Gazette takes you back to October 1966 as the chairman of the
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Stokely Carmichael, called for blacks to reclaim
their history and identity through black power.

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Thank you very much. It is indeed an honor and a pleasure to be
in Boston. We were surprised to hear the protests. We thought that new Bostonians carried on the
traditions of the old Bostonians, rivaling the days of the old Transcendentalists, Wendell Phillips
and Thoreau and Emerson and Parker. You ought to remind your new friends in Boston that the
right of free speech has been something that old Bostonians have always fought for, especially in
halls. [applause] We're grateful that some people still have the spirit to allow for free speech. A
test for free speech is whether or not you can hear that which you want to hear least and tolerate

We usually only need one person to incite wherever we go. But since we were coming to Boston,
we wanted to introduce the program's secretary of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating
Committee who's in the audience, Mr. Cleve Sellers. [applause]

We had an article appear in the New York Review of Books. We wanted the title to be "Power and
Racism." The publishers wanted it to be "What We Want." And we didn't have any power, so we
lost. And that was the first speech that we had prepared for the Ford Hall Forum. Since that time,
it's been around quite a number of places; it's been reprinted. And we didn't want to use it again
because we wouldn't want to be branded as being intellectually lazy. It's not that we have
anything against being intellectual, but laziness has been with us too long. Trying to fight those

So there's a new article, which will appear in the Massachusetts Review in the next quarter. And
we're going to read that one tonight. We're not too good at reading articles– [audience

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interruption] The reason you can't hear well is because, you've got to understand, the CIA has got
to get first priority. [laughter/applause]

But we're going to try and read articles because we find out that when we go to intellectual
places that people have a tendency to believe that because one is an activist he cannot also be a
thinker. And we don't think that that's necessarily true. One can be both an activist and a thinker.
Some of the most brilliant thinkers in the country are the best activists that I know. They work in
SNCC. [laughter]

One of the most pointed illustrations of the need for Black Power, as a positive and redemptive
force in a society degenerating into a form of totalitarianism, is to be made by examining the
history of distortion that the concept has received in national media of publicity. In this debate –
and a debate which we have not been in on – as in everything else that affects our lives, blacks
are dependent on, and at the discretion of, forces and institutions within the white society which
have little interest in representing us honestly.

Our experience with the national press has been that where they have managed to escape a
meretricious special interest in "get whitey" sensationalism and race-war mongering, individual
reporters and commentators have been conditioned by the enveloping racism of the society to the
point where they are incapable even of objective observation and reporting of racial incidents,
much less the analysis of ideas. But this limitation of vision and perceptions is an inevitable
consequence of the dictatorship of definition, interpretation and consciousness, along with the
censorship of history that the society has inflicted upon the blacks and, consequently, itself.

Those words are so big, it took me all night just to do the first paragraph. [laughter]

Our concern for black power addresses itself directly to this problem, the necessity to reclaim our
history and our identity from the cultural terrorism and depredation of self-justifying white guilt.
To do this, we shall have to struggle for the right to create our own terms through which to
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define ourselves and our relationship to the society, and to have these terms recognized. This is
the first necessity of a free people, and the first right that any oppressor must suspend. The white
fathers of American racism knew this –instinctively it seems – as is indicated by the continuous
record of the distortion and omission in the chronicles of their dealings with the red and black

In the same way that Southern apologists for the Jim Crow society was established in the 1870s
after the effort to reconstruct the South, along the lines of true political democracy was
subverted, have so obscured, muddied and misrepresented the record of that period so that it is
almost impossible to determine what really happened. Their contemporary counterparts are busy
doing the same thing with the recent history of the civil rights movement.

That's for the press. I didn't want to leave them out.

In 1964, for example, the National Democratic Party, led by Lyndon Baines Johnson and Hubert
H. Humphrey, cynically undermined the efforts of Mississippi's black population to achieve
some degree of political representation. Yet, whenever the events of that convention are recalled
by the press, one sees only that version fabricated by the press agents of the Democratic Party. A
year later, the House of Representatives, in an even more vulgar display of political racism, made
a hollow mockery of the political rights of Mississippi's blacks when it failed to unseat the
Mississippi delegation to the House which had been elected through a process which
methodically and systematically excluded over 450,000 voting-age blacks, almost one-half of the
total electorate of the state of Mississippi.

Whenever this event is mentioned in print, it is in terms which leaves one with the rather curious
impression that somehow the oppressed black people of Mississippi are at fault for confronting
the Congress with a situation in which they had no alternative but to endorse Mississippi's racist
political practices.
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I mention these two examples because, having been directly involved in them, I can see very
clearly the discrepancies between what happened and the versions that are finding their way into
general acceptance as a kind of popular mythology. Thus, the victimization of the blacks takes
place in two phases – first, it occurs in fact and deed; then, and this is equally sinister, in the
official recording of those facts.

The black power program and concept which is being articulated by the Student Non-Violent
Coordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality, and a host of community
organizations in the ghettoes of the North and South has not escaped that process. The white
press has been busy articulating their own interpretations and criticisms of their own creations.
I'm reminded of a line in one of Mr. Dylan's folk songs – "Come you liberals and do not criticize
that which you cannot understand."

For example, while the press had given wide and sensational dissemination to attacks made by
figures in the civil rights movement – foremost among which are Roy Wilkins of the NAACP
and Whitney Young of the Urban League – and to the hysterical ranting about black racism by
the political chameleon that now serves as Vice President, it has certainly failed to give accounts
of the reasonable and productive dialogue which is taking place in the black community and in
certain important areas in the white religious and intellectual community.

A national committee of influential Negro Churchmen affiliated with the National Council of
Churches, despite their obvious respectability and responsibility, had to resort to a paid
advertisement to articulate their position, while anyone shouting the hysterical yappings of
"black racism" got ample space. Thus, the American people have gotten at best a superficial and
misleading account of the very terms and tenor of this debate. I wish to quote briefly from the
statement by the National Committee of Churchmen which I suspect that the majority of
Americans have not seen. This was a paid advertisement that was taken on by several Negro
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churchmen. Its statement appeared in the New York Times, the July 31st issue. I'd like to quote a
great deal of the statement because I think it's vitally important.

We, an informal group of Negro churchmen in America are deeply disturbed
about the crisis brought upon our country by historic distortions of important
human realities in the controversy about black power. What we see shining
through the variety of rhetoric is not anything new, but the same old problem of
power and race which has faced our beloved country since 1619. The conscience
of black men is corrupted because, having no power to implement the demands of
conscience, the concern for justice in the absence of justice becomes a chaotic
self-surrender. Powerlessness breeds a race of beggars. We are faced now with a
situation where powerless conscience meets conscienceless power.

That's important. I'd like to repeat that:

We are faced now with a situation where powerless conscience meets
conscienceless power threatening the very foundations of our Nation. We deplore
the overt violence of riots, but we feel it is more important to focus on the real
sources of these eruptions. These sources may be abetted inside the ghetto, but
their basic cause lies in the silent and covert violence which white middle class
America inflicts upon the victims of the inner city.

In short, the failure of American leaders to use American power to create equal
opportunity in life as well as law, this is the real problem and not the anguished
cry for black power.
Without the capacity to participate with power – i.e., to have some organized
political and economic strength to really influence people with whom one
interacts – integration is not meaningful.
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America has asked its Negro citizens to fight for opportunity as individuals,
whereas at certain points in our history what we have needed most has been
opportunity for the whole group, not just for selected and approved Negroes.

We must not apologize for the existence of this form of group power, for we have
been oppressed as a group and not as individuals. We will not find our way out of
that oppression until both we and America accept the need for Negro Americans,
as well as for Jews, Italians, Poles, and white Anglo Saxon Protestants, among
others, to have and to wield group power.

Traditionally, for each new ethnic group, the route to social and political integration into
America's pluralistic society has been through the organization of their own institutions with
which to represent their communal needs within the larger society. This is, simply stated, what
the advocates of black power are saying. The strident outcry, particularly from the liberal
community, that has been evoked by this proposal can only be understood by examining the
historic relationship between the black power structure and the white power structure in this
Blacks are defined by two forces – their blackness and their powerlessness. There have been
traditionally two communities in America – the white community, which controlled and defined
the forms that all institutions within the society would take; and the black community, which has
been excluded from participation in the power decisions that shaped the society, and has
traditionally been dependent upon, and subservient to, the white community.

This has not been accidental. The history of every institution of this society indicates that a major
concern in the ordering and structuring of the society has been the maintaining of the black
community in its condition of dependence and oppression. This has not been on the level of

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individual acts of discrimination between individual whites against individual blacks, but as total
acts by the white community against the black community.
This fact cannot be too strongly emphasized – that racist assumptions of white superiority have
been so deeply ingrained in the structure of the society that it infuses its entire functioning of the
society, and is so much a part of the national subconscious that it is taken for granted and is
frequently not even recognized. Let me give an example of the difference between individual
racism and institutionalized racism, and the society's response to both.

When unidentified white terrorists bomb a black church and kill five black children, that is an act
of individual racism which is widely deplored by most segments of the society. But when in that
same city, Birmingham, Alabama, not five but 500 black babies die each year because of a lack
of proper food, shelter and medical facilities, and thousands more are destroyed and maimed
physically, emotionally and intellectually because of conditions of poverty and deprivation in the
ghetto, that is a function of institutionalized racism.

But the society either pretends it doesn't know of this situation, or is incapable of doing anything
meaningful about it. And this resistance to doing anything meaningful about conditions in that
ghetto comes from the fact that the ghetto is itself a product of a combination of forces and
special interests inside the white community, and the groups that have access to the resources
and power to change that situation benefit, politically and economically, from the existence of
that ghetto.

It is more than a figure of speech to say that the black community in America is the victim of
white imperialism and colonial exploitation. This is in practical economic and political terms
true. It is a truism. There are over 20 million black people comprising ten percent of this nation.
They, for the most part, live in well-defined areas of the country – in the shanty-towns and rural
black belt areas of the South, and increasingly in the slums of Northern and Western industrial
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cities. If one goes into a black community, whether it be in Jackson, Mississippi, Cambridge,
Maryland, Harlem, New York, or Roxbury, one will find that the same combination of political,
economic, and social forces are at work.

The people in the black community do not control the resources of that community, its political
decisions, its law enforcement, its housing standards; and even the physical ownership of the
land, houses, and stores lie outside the black community. It is white power that makes the laws,
and it is violent white power in the form of armed white cops that enforces those laws with guns
and nightsticks. The vast majority of blacks in this country live in these captive communities and
must endure these conditions of oppression because, and only because, they are black and

I do not suppose that at any point the men who control the power and resources of this country
ever sat down and designed these black enclaves, and formally articulated the terms of their
colonial and dependent status, as was done, for example, with the Apartheid policy in South
Africa. Yet, one cannot distinguish between one ghetto and another. As one moves from city to
city, it is as though some malignant racist planning-unit had done precisely this – designed each
one from the same master blueprint. And indeed, if the ghetto had been formally and deliberately
planned, instead of growing spontaneously and inevitably from the racist functioning of the
various institutions that combine to make the society, it would be somehow less frightening.

The situation would be less frightening because, if these ghettoes were the result of design and
conspiracy, one could understand their similarity as being an artificial and consciously imposed
quality, rather than the result of identical patterns of white racism which repeat themselves in
cities as distant as Boston and Birmingham.
Without bothering to list the historic factors which contribute to this pattern – economic
exploitation, political impotence, discrimination in employment and education – one can see that
to correct this pattern will require far-reaching changes in the basic power relationships and the
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ingrained social patterns within the society. The question is, of course, what kinds of changes are
necessary, and how is it possible to bring them about?

In recent years the answer to these questions, which has been given by most articulate groups of
Negro leaders and their white allies, the liberals of all stripes, has been in terms of something
called "integration." According to the advocates of integration, social justice will be
accomplished by "integrating the Negro into the mainstream institutions of the society from
which he has been traditionally excluded." It is very significant that each time I have heard this
formulation it has been in terms of "the Negro," "a Negro," "Ralph Bunch, "the individual
Negro" [applause], rather than in terms of the black community.

This concept of integration had to be based on the assumption that there was nothing of value in
the black community and that little of value could be created among blacks, so the thing to do
was to siphon off the "acceptable" Negroes into the surrounding middle-class white community.
Thus, the goal of the movement for integration was simply to loosen up the restrictions barring
the entry of Negroes into the white community. Goals such as public accommodation, open
housing, job opportunity on the executive level –which is easier to deal with than the problem of
semi-skilled and blue collar jobs which involve more far-reaching economic adjustments – are
quite simply middle-class goals, articulated by a tiny group of Negroes who have had middleclass aspirations.

Now, the press has been helpful in interpreting some of the things that we were doing in SNCC.
They have said that SNCC was busy integrating a couple years ago and that we were talking
about the beloved community, about changing hearts and that we've now changed. And there's
nothing more nonsensical than any of that statement. No one in SNCC ever left their homes to go
and sit next to James Clark. We went to render Mr. Clark impotent over our lives. And that needs
to be understood. [applause]

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I think that needs to be understood. We were fighting against white supremacy. We were not
fighting to sit next to white people. We were fighting against white supremacy; we wanted to get
rid of all the Wallaces and the Eastlands the other people in the North, too, when I come home.
But the papers often call it a movement for integration. That was never our idea at any rate.

There were several other respectable Negroes, however, who were articulating a position of
changing the hearts of people in the country. I think that's an admirable deed, I really do. I think
that Dr. Martin Luther King, for example, is one of the greatest men in this country. He's got a
compassion that I think very few men in this country have. But when I sit and look at a picture of
Lyndon Baines Johnson and I think what a job he will have of teaching him how to be nonviolent in Vietnam. [applause]

This limited class orientation was reflected not only in the program and goals of the civil rights
movement, but in its tactics and organization. It is very significant that the two oldest and most
respectable civil rights organizations have constitutions– I have a block to using that word
[laughter/applause]; that is because I can only say three-fifths of it. [laughter/applause] However,
within their written documentations of these two respectable civil rights organizations, they have
been barred and prohibited them from partisan political activity.

CORE [Congress of Racial Equality] once did, but changed that clause when it changed its
orientation toward black power. But this is perfectly understandable in terms of the strategy and
goals of the older organizations. The civil rights movement saw its role as a kind of liaison
between the powerful white community and the dependent black community. The dependent
status of the black community apparently was unimportant since it was – if the movement was
going to be successful – going to blend into the white community anyway. We made no pretense
of organizing and developing institutions of community power in the black community, but
appealed to the conscience of white institutions of power. The posture of the civil rights
movement was that of the dependent, the suppliant. The theory was that without attempting to
create any organized base of political strength itself, the civil rights movement could – by
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forming coalitions with various liberal pressure organizing groups in the white community,
liberal reform clubs, labor unions like Mr. Reuther, church groups, progressive civic groups, and
at times one or other of the major political parties – influence national legislation and national
social patterns.

I think we all have seen the limitations of this approach. We have repeatedly seen that political
alliances based on appeals to conscience and decency are chancy things, simply because
institutions and political organizations have no consciences outside their own special interests.
The political and social rights of blacks have been and always will be negotiable and expendable
the moment they conflict with the interests of our allies.

If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it, and that is precisely the lesson of the
Reconstruction period. Black people were allowed to register, vote, and participate in politics
because it was to the advantage of powerful white allies to promote this. That's people who talk
about the populist movement all the time. This was the result of a white decision, and it was
ended by other white men's decision when it became politically astute– politically expedient,
rather – when it became politically expedient for whites to get rid of the blacks, they just got rid
of them in the populist movement. And we don't want to be in the position this time around
where they can just get rid of us when the political winds change. We want to be able to be
organized independently to have something to say about that.

But this was a result of white decisions and it was ended by other white men's decisions before
any political base powerful enough to challenge that decision could be established in the
Southern black community. Thus, at this point in the struggle, blacks have no assurance – save a
kind of idiot optimism and faith in a society whose history is one of racism – that if it were to
become necessary, even the painfully limited gains thrown to the civil rights movement by the
Congress will not be revoked as soon as a shift in political sentiments should occur.

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The major limitation of this approach was that it tended to maintain the traditional dependence of
blacks, and of the movement. We depended upon the good will and support of various groups
within the white community whose interests were not always compatible with ours. To the extent
that we depended on the financial support of other groups, we were vulnerable to their influence
and domination.

A lot of supporters of the civil rights movement used to read the New York Times, you know. I'm
always looking to see how often we get paid advertisements in the New York Times condemning
black power.

Also, the program that evolved out of this coalition was really limited and inadequate in the long
term and one which affected only a small, selected group of Negroes. Its goal was
to make the white community accessible to "qualified" Negroes and presumably each year a few
more Negroes armed with their passports – a couple of university degrees – would escape into
middle-class America, adopt the attitudes and lifestyles of that group, and one day the Harlems
and the Watts would stand empty. [applause] And this, of course, would be hailed a tribute to the
success of integration.

This is simply neither realistic nor particularly desirable. You cannot integrate communities, but
you assimilate individuals. Even if such a program were possible, its results would be, not to
develop the black community as a functional and honorable segment of the total society, with its
own cultural identity, life patterns, and institutions, but to abolish it – the final solution to the
Negro problem.

Karl Marx said that the working class is the first class in history that ever wanted to abolish
itself. If one listens to some moderates and respectable civil rights leaders, one would believe the
Negro race was the first race that wanted to abolish itself. The fact is that what must be abolished
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is not the black community, but the dependent colonial status that has been inflicted upon it. The
racial and cultural personality of the black community must be preserved, and the community
must win its freedom while preserving its cultural integrity. [applause] This is the essential
difference between integration, as it is currently practiced, and the concept of black power.

ANNOUNCER: You're listening to Stokely Carmichael on a special edition of the Ford Hall
Forum's New American Gazette.

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: What has the movement for integration accomplished to date?
The Negro graduating from MIT with a doctorate will have better job opportunities available to
him than even to Lynda Bird Johnson. [laughter] But the rate of unemployment in the black
community is steadily increasing, while that in the white community decreases. More educated
Negroes hold executive-type jobs in major corporations and federal agencies than ever before,
but the gap between white income and black income has almost doubled in the last 20 years.

More suburban housing is available to Negroes, but housing conditions in the ghetto are steadily
declining, while the rent is increasing for the rats and roaches that live with us. [applause]

While the infant mortality rate of New York City is at its lowest rate ever in the city's history, the
infant mortality rate of Harlem is climbing.

There has been an organized national resistance – national, not Southern – national resistance to
the Supreme Court's order to integrate the schools, and the federal government has not acted to
enforce that order. Less than fifteen percent of black children in the South attend integrated
schools; and black schools, which the vast majority of black children still attend, are increasingly
decrepit, overcrowded, under-staffed, inadequately equipped and funded.


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It's apparent to me that one of the things that this country has been able to do with its gigantic
propaganda machinery is to always focus attention on six, ten, twelve or maybe fifty little black
children trying to integrate a white school. And after going through mobs of big, white men who
stamp, crush, beat them, they finally make it into the schools, are allowed to sit down with the
children of the parents who just beat them up. And people hail this as a victory. And two days
later, after the white country now is entirely shocked – because this has no effect on black people
in the ghetto – the President sends the FBI, the National Guard, the state troopers, the policemen
and Martin Luther King armed with non-violence. [applause]

We are not concerned with those six percent; we are concerned with the 85-90 percent who still
live in black schools that nobody talks about. That's who we're concerned about. And we think
the country ought to face the reality that they're going to live in those schools. And we're not
concerned about white schools, we just want better schools. [applause]

This explains why the rate of school dropouts is increasing among black teenagers, who then
express their bitterness, hopelessness, and alienation by the only terms they have – rioting. And
they're not so different from Americans, you know, because we express ours through bombing.
Ask Ho Chi Minh, he'll tell you. [applause]

As long as people in the ghettoes of our large cities feel that they are victims of the misuse of
white power without any way to have their needs represented – and these are frequently simple
needs: to get the welfare inspectors to stop kicking down our doors in the middle of the night, the
cops from beating our children, the landlord to exterminate the rats in our home, and the city to
collect our garbage – we will continue to have riots. These are not the products of black power,
but of the absence of any organization capable of giving the community the power, the black
power, to deal with its problems. [applause]


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SNCC proposes that it is now time for the Black Freedom movement to stop pandering to the
fears and anxieties of the white middle class in the attempt to earn its good-will, and to return to
the ghetto to organize these communities to control themselves. This organization must be
attempted in Northern and Southern urban areas, as well as in the rural black belt counties of the

The chief antagonist to this organization is, in the South, the overtly racist Democratic Party,
and, in the North, the equally corrupt big city machines. The standard argument against
independent political organization is, "But you're only ten percent." Ask Mr. Spivak about that.

I cannot see the relevance of this observation, since no one is talking about taking over the
country, but taking control over our own communities. The fact is that the black population, ten
percent or not, is very strategically placed because – ironically– of segregation. What is also true
is that blacks have never been able to utilize their full voting potential of our numbers. Where we
could vote, the case has always been that the white political machine stacks and gerrymanders
the political subdivisions in black neighborhoods so that the true voting strength is never
reflected in political strength. Would anyone looking at the distribution of political power in
Manhattan, ever think that blacks represented sixty percent of the population there?

Just as often, the effective political organization in black communities is absorbed by tokenism
and patronage, the time-honored practice of giving certain offices to selected Negroes. The
machine thus creates a little machine, which is subordinate and responsive to the white
community. The black political leaders are really vote deliverers, more responsible to the white
machine and the white power structure than to the community they allegedly represent. Thus, the
white community is able to substitute patronage control for audacious black power in the black

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This is precisely what Johnson tried to do even before the Voting Rights Act of 1966 was passed.
The National Democrats made it very clear that the measure was intended to register Democrats,
not Negroes. The President and top officials of the Democratic Party called in almost 100
selected responsible Negro leaders from the Deep South. Nothing was said about changing the
policies of the racist state parties, nothing was said about repudiating such leadership figures as
Eastland, Barnett, Wallace, and Talmadge. What was said was simply, "Go home and organize
your people into the local Democratic Party. Then we'll see about poverty money and

Incidentally, poverty money in the South is handled by the same racists who were there prior to
1966. They have a new thing now; they use it to have black people be dependent upon on them.
In the past, if a black person registered to vote, he could lose his job and be run off from the land.
Now if he registers to vote, he can lose his Head Start job.

We must organize black community power to end these abuses, and to give the black community
a chance to have its needs expressed. A leadership which is truly responsible – not to the white
press and power structure, but to the community – must be developed. A leadership which will
recognize that its power lies in the unified and collective strength of that community. This will
make it difficult for the white leadership group to conduct its dialogue with individuals in terms
of patronage and prestige, and will force them to talk to the community's representatives in terms
of real power.

The single aspect of the Black Power program that has come into the most criticism is this
concept of independent organization. This is represented as third-partyism which has never
worked, or a withdrawal into Black Nationalism and isolationism. Or, to some, more or less
intelligent people, reverse racism.


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If such a program is done, it will not have the effect of isolating the black community but the
reverse. When the black community is able to control local office, and negotiate with other
groups from a position of organized strength, the possibility of meaningful political alliances on
specific issues will be increased. That is a rule of politics and there is no reason why it should not
operate here. The only difference is that we will have the power to define the terms of these

The next question usually is, "So, can it work? Can the ghettos be in fact organized?" The answer
is that this organization must be successful, because there are no viable alternatives – not the
War on Poverty, which was at its inception limited to dealing with effects rather than causes, and
has become simply another source of machine patronage. Integration is meaningful only to a
small chosen handful of accepted Negro people in our community.

The revolution in agricultural technology in the South is displacing the rural black community
into Northern urban areas. Both Washington, DC, Newark, New Jersey, and Gary, Indiana, now
have black majorities. The inner city in most major urban areas is predominantly black. And with
the white rush to suburbia, blacks will in the next three decades control the heart of our great
cities. These areas can become either concentration camps, with a bitter and volatile population
whose only power is the power to destroy, or organized and powerful communities able to make
constructive contributions to the total society.

Without the power to control our lives and their communities, without effective political
institutions through which to relate to the total society, our communities will exist in a constant
state of insurrection. This is a choice that this country will have to make. Not ours.

I want to thank you very much. [applause]

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DONALD STEWART: Stokely Carmichael will shortly be questioned. First, we hear from
Dean Clarence Q. Berger, who is tonight's moderator.

CLARENCE BERGER: Let's start with this section over here. Yes, sir.

The questioner says that you wish to substitute black values for white values in the community,
and asks what some of these values might be.

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Number one, I've been a little bit concerned about a term that
white society has been throwing in our face. It's called illegitimate children – "you have too
many illegitimate children." There are no illegitimate children. All children are legitimate; they
come out the same way. [applause]

Now, there may be something called illegal children in the sense that they're run in conflict to the
norms or mores of the society, but that since we are in a college campus area and we must talk
frankly, we know that abortions can stop illegitimate children. And that's where we find a large
percentage of them, as a matter of fact, on the college campuses.

So we want to reject the idea that a child be castigated because his mother and father weren't
married. Because you don't know if mine were. It's none of your business. That's one we want to
reject. We want to develop and keep that within our community there's always been an idea of a
child is a child is a child. Those are very simple things.

But when you speak about that, you speak overall about the fact that anything that black people
have produced in this society they're made to be ashamed of. For example, we used to have
something called rhythm and blues. You now call it rock and roll. [applause] And we were made
to be ashamed of it until the Beatles legitimized it and gave it back to us.
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The second thing, for example, is that we have cultural values within black society that are
looked down upon as animalist or savagery or uncivilized. For example, I think– as a matter of
fact, I know that James Brown has as much musical genius as does Brahms, Bach and Mozart
put together. [applause] Because he has the ability to externalize something that is very internal
and that when he does that, even if your name is Lyndon Baines Johnson, if you're hearing him,
you've got to tap your feet.

So we have to develop and embrace these things we are ashamed of and keep running from, and
that has to do with the fact that we are black and that everything we read is white, what is
beautiful is white. And whatever is bad is black. And we have to develop a new concept of value
based on the fact that we are black and that our noses are broad, our lips are thick, our hair is
nappy, but we are beautiful. And we are beautiful in our blackness. We cannot be like Dick and
Jane, and even their little white dog Spot. [applause]

CLARENCE BERGER: The question is, how do you account for the growing white backlash
in the country and what can be done to counteract it?

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: We start from different assumptions. I think yours is fallacious. I
don't believe there's anything called a white backlash in this country. This country is racist. I
think that when people move to destroy racism, then racists move to defend it. For example,
black people knew that they could not live in Cicero [IL]; white people knew that black people
could not live in Cicero. But when some Negroes got smart with a civil rights bill in their back
pocket and thought they could walk into Cicero, the whites had to remind them that they could
not. That is no white backlash; it's black people pushing harder to destroy racism. So I don't see
any white backlash. [applause]

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There is one other point to substantiate; that is that I'm told that I'm responsible for causing
several political upheavals in this country. [laughter] Based on that, we've been– I just started to
read the Harris polls. I never paid them much mind, but since SNCC has become so powerful,
we're going to run the chairman for presidency in 1968. I figure we've got to win.

In Maryland, a man by the name of Mahoney won over the issue of occupancy, open occupancy,
and his slogan was, "a man's home is his castle." He was against open occupancy. And he won.
And all the political astute analysis in the daily columns said that Stokely Carmichael was
responsible for that. They didn't even say that the District of Columbia is now all black because
white people ran to Maryland to get away from black people. And did they think those same
white people will now vote for black people, to move them out of Maryland into Virginia?

CLARENCE BERGER: If part of your goals are to develop black culture, black unity, why do
you spend time addressing predominantly white audiences?

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: I don't spend most of my time addressing predominantly white
audiences. We do talk to white audiences because we feel they're people. Sometimes. [laughter]
But secondly, we feel that the problem of racism exists within the white community. And we feel
that white people individually inside that community may feel trapped by the institutions of
racism, and that many of them really want to move to destroy racism. I think a lot of them are
trapped. But in order for that to be done, they must start working inside the white community to
tear them down. I think that we need those type of white people to be stimulated to do that.

I also feel that black people in this country only have power within the black community, not
within the white community, and that there is a need for white people to start moving inside the
white community establish different institutional structures. We also feel that white people ought

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to have a right to hear both sides of the story. And while most of them just read Time magazine
and the New York Times, we thought they ought to have a chance to hear our side.

CLARENCE BERGER: The lady says, do you anticipate the possibility of the whole emerging
black power movement becoming hysterical in certain situations? And if so, is there any
provision within the structure of SNCC to contain such hysterical manifestations?

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Well, we're not for containing anybody, number one. And
number two, I'm not too sure that that hasn't been done by the white press, blown out of
proportion, and by other people who started debating the issue. We do not see that as a
possibility. We think that there's going to be violence in the major cities anyway. And that's
already started. There has been violence in major cities in this country before – after World War
I and during the 1940s. Across the country. And I think the push is going to be harder because
black people are going to push for the things they have to have. And if there's no way for them to
redress their grievances, then they will take it out in violence.

We do hope that the programs that we articulate will be able to organize black people to push for
the changes that they want. We might add that wherever we've been working, we've been able to
produce programs and to organize black people to work for that change. It is only where there
have been no organizations organizing people that they've erupted in violence.

CLARENCE BERGER: The question was that– [OMISSION]

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: Since in most other minority groups in the country – i.e., the
Greeks, the Italians, the Poles – there is a culture within that community. And since black people
have been cut off from culture in Africa because they've been told that Africans were all savages,
do we now think that we can develop a culture for black people that they will be proud of, and
the middle class would embrace this culture that has developed or will they run away from it?

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I remember in Sociology 101 that [laughter] culture was defined as anything manmade. And to
say that black people have no culture or that they're culturally deprived is to deny their very
existence. Black people have culture. [applause]

I do believe that, in terms of the hookup with Africa and the feeling of the middle-class Negroes
out of the community, that there are several issues that we can talk about. Number one is, I think
that to be successful in this country is to be anti-black; or, some people say to be anti-poor. Well,
since most black people are poor, it's sort of puts us in the same category. So what happens is
that every time a Negro becomes successful, he takes a job with IBM, Wall Street, Madison
Avenue, or teaches at Harvard University, to prove to white people that he's just as good as they
are and he runs away from the ghetto; he becomes ashamed of it. I think that's what the Negro
middle class does. They can't embrace the culture that we have because they think that we have
too much rhythm anyway. [laughter/applause] So it's a question of how they can get oriented to
accepting what they've been running away from – chitlins and James Brown. [laughter]

Now, the question about Africa is very important because we have to develop a new
consciousness in terms of hooking up with Africa. We have to realize that we are oppressed in
this country because we're black, and for no other reason. So our destiny is hooked up with
people of the same color who are oppressed around the world by the same whites because they
are black. And that works psychologically against us.

When I was a boy, I used to go to the movies to see Tarzan. And Tarzan used to get up and fight
and he was proper, he was white and English, Anglo Saxon, and he spoke very well – [yells like
Tarzan]. [laughter] I was proud of Tarzan's beautiful articulation and his superiority in speaking.
[laughter] And I was always disgusted at the little black savages who came around [chants] and
throwing spears. [laughter] And they would always be throwing spears at Tarzan. Whenever
Tarzan got in trouble, I'd say, "Tarzan, kill the savages, kill the beast, beat up those little black

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people! Kill me because those are my ancestors." [applause] That is precisely the psychology
that was operating in my mind.

Now we understand that Tarzan is back on the scene these days, and we're urging our little black
children that when they see Tarzan, yell for the chiefs to beat the hell out of that white man and
send him back East. [applause] And tell him that when he goes back to Europe to take all this
companies that exploit us with him. [applause]

CLARENCE BERGER: The questioner points out that the Peace Corps is sending large
numbers of young, white volunteers to Africa. In your judgment, what is their purpose there?

STOKELY CARMICHAEL: I want to make an analogy between the modern Peace Corps
people and the missionaries. [applause] I want to explain that I don't believe that missionaries are
bad people. I thought for the most part they were good, earnest and well-intentioned people who
thought they were doing their best, and they just fell into a scheme of exploitation, which made it
good to have them around.

For example, the missionaries went to Africa on the assumption that black people were
uncivilized and that they were savages, and that they were going to carry out Mr. Kipling's
strong points of the white man's burden. Their mistake was that the white man's burden had to be
preached in Europe, not Africa.

But at any rate, they went to Africa with Bibles. Africans had land. When they left, they had the
land and we still have the Bibles. I think that they felt that that was the price that we had to be
charged for civilizing us and giving us culture.

I think those people themselves meant well, but that they were used to continue to exploit black
people. What the Peace Corps does is that it teaches people how to learn English and to read and
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write and build houses. I think that what underdeveloped countries need are technical skills –
how to build industrial plants inside their nations so they can convert the raw materials that they
have and get the products themselves, rather than have to send them to the United States or put
them on the market, the world market, which is controlled by the United States. And then have to
sell it back to them.

If the Peace Corps people really wanted to do something to benefit those countries, then they
should teach them technical skills. That's what Mr. Nkrumah was trying to do in Ghana.


Thank you. [applause]

[You've been listening to a special edition of the New American Gazette. Stokely Carmichael
was recorded at Jordan Hall in Boston on October 16, 1966.

The New American Gazette is produced for the Ford Hall Forum and directed by Deborah
Stavrow. Post-production engineer is Brian Sabo.

This program is produced in cooperation with the nation's presidential libraries, the National
Archives and Northeastern University.

Funding for the New American Gazette is provided by Houghton Chemical Corporation of
Boston. For over 60 years, a major marketer of organic chemicals and automotive antifreeze

Additional funding is provided by Metropolitan Life Foundation, helping to create an informed
citizenry through public affairs programming.

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If you'd like a cassette of this program, send a check for $12 to the Ford Hall Forum, 271
Huntington Avenue, Suite 240, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115. That's the Ford Hall Forum, 271
Huntington Avenue, Suite 240, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115.]


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