Stokely Carmichael

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 age|1998|11|15|1941|6|29
placeofdeath = flagicon|GuineaConakry, Guinea

caption = Carmichael amidst a demonstration near the United States Capitol protesting the House of Representatives' action denying Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., his seat, 1967.
alternate name = Kwame Ture
movement = African-American Civil Rights Movement
organizations = Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Black Panther Party
prizes =

Stokely Standiford Churchill Carmichael (June 29, 1941ndash November 15, 1998), also known as Kwame Ture, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced "Snick") and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party. Initially an integrationist, Carmichael later became affiliated with black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements. [ Stokely Carmichael] , King Encyclopedia, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University. Accessed 20 November 2006.]

Personal life

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Carmichael moved to Harlem, New York City in 1952 at age eleven to rejoin his parents, who had left him with his grandmother and two aunts to emigrate when he was two. He attended the eliteTranquility School in Trinidad until his parents were able to send for him. [ "Stokely Carmichael Biography"] Accessed June 27, 2007.]

His mother, Mabel F. Carmichael, was a stewardess for a steamship line, and his father Adolphus was a carpenter who also worked as a taxi driver. The reunited Carmichael family eventually left Harlem to live in Morris Park in the East Bronx, at that time an aging Jewish and Italian neighborhood. According to a 1967 interview he gave to LIFE Magazine, he was the only black member of the Morris Park Dukes, a youth gang involved in alcohol and petty theft.

He attended the Bronx High School of Science, a specialized public high school for gifted students with a rigorous entrance exam, from which he graduated in 1960. [] , NY Times "Ready for Revolution" Book review. Accessed 17 March 2007.] His experience with the intellectual riches of the high school convinced him to drop his friends from the Dukes gang.

In 1960, Carmichael went on to attend Howard University, a historically-black school in Washington, D.C., rejecting scholarship offers from several white universities. At Howard his professors included Sterling Brown [,pageNum-56.html], "American Poets of the 20th Century: Sterling Brown"] , Nathan Hare [] Nathan Hare, "Foreword: How to Recover from the Addiction to White Supremacy"] , and Toni Morrison [], "Toni Morrison Speaker Bio"] . His apartment on Euclid Street was a gathering place for his activist classmates. He graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1964.

He joined the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), the Howard campus affiliate of SNCC. He was inspired by the sit-ins to become more active in the Civil Rights Movement. In his first year at the university, he participated in the Freedom Rides of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and was frequently arrested, spending time in jail. In 1961, he served 49 days at the infamous Parchman Farm of Mississippi. He was arrested many times for his activism. He lost count of his many arrests, sometimes giving the estimate of at least 29 or 32, and telling the Washington Post in 1998 he believed the total number was fewer than 36."The Undying Revolutionary: As Stokely Carmichael, He Fought for interracial relationships. Now Kwame Ture's Fighting For His Life," by Paula Spahn, April 8, 1998, Washington Post p. D 1. Accessed via online cache June 27, 2007.]

Black Power

Carmichael participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer, serving as a regional director for SNCC workers and helping to organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). He was deeply disillusioned with the national Democratic Party when the party refused to seat the multi-racial MFDP delegation in place of the official all-white, pro-segregation Mississippi Democratic Party during the 1964 Democratic Party National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey. [] , Britannica on "Black Power". Accessed 24 February 2007.] This incident led him to seek alternative means for the political empowerment of African-Americans and to become increasingly influenced by the ideologies of Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah.

In 1966 Carmichael journeyed to Lowndes County, Alabama, where he brought together the county's African-American residents to form the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO). The organization was an effort to form a political party that would bring black residents of Lowndes — who were a majority in the county, but held no elected offices and were locked out of local politics — into power. The organization chose a black panther as its emblem, ostensibly in response to the Alabama Democratic Party's use of a White Rooster. In the press the LCFO became known as the "Black Panther Party"ndash a moniker that would eventually provide inspiration for the more-well known Black Panther Party later founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California. [] , H.K. Yuen Social Movement Archive. Accessed 24 February 2007.] Carmichael often satirically made references to the media's one-sided renaming of the party:

While he was in Lowndes, the number of registered black voters rose from 70 to 2,600 — 300 more than the number of registered white voters.

Carmichael became chairman of SNCC later in 1966, taking over from John Lewis. A few weeks after Carmichael took office, James Meredith was shot by a sniper during his solitary "March Against Fear". Carmichael joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers and others to continue Meredith's march. He was arrested once again during the march and, upon his release, he gave his first "Black Power" speech, using the phrase to urge black pride and socio-economic independence:

While Black Power was not a new concept, Carmichael's speech brought it into the spotlight and it became a rallying cry for young African Americans across the country. Heavily influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon and his landmark book "Wretched of the Earth", along with others such as Malcolm X, under Carmichael's leadership SNCC gradually became more radical and focused on Black Power as its core goal and ideology. This became most evident during the controversial Atlanta Project in 1966. SNCC, under the local leadership of Bill Ware, engaged in a voter drive to promote the candidacy of Julian Bond for the Georgia State Legislature in an Atlanta district. However, unlike previous SNCC activities — like the 1961 Freedom Rides or the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer — Ware excluded Northern white SNCC members from the drive. Initially, Carmichael opposed this move and voted it down, but he eventually changed his mind. [ [ Atlanta in the Civil Rights Movement ] ] When - at the urging of the Atlanta Project - the issue of whites in SNCC came up for a vote, Carmichael ultimately sided with those calling for the expulsion of whites. The goal was to encourage whites to begin organizing poor white southern communities while SNCC would continue to focus on promoting African American self reliance through Black Power. [] , James Forman, "The Making of Black Revolutionaries" xvi - xv (2d ed. 1997). Accessed 17 March 2007.]

Carmichael saw nonviolence as a tactic as opposed to a principle, which separated him from moderate civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.. Carmichael became critical of civil rights leaders who simply called for the integration of African Americans into existing institutions of the middle class mainstream. Carmichael believed that in order to genuinely integrate, Blacks first had to unite in solidarity and become self-reliant.

According to "Bearing the Cross" (1986), David J. Garrow's Pulitzer Prize winning book about the Civil Rights movement, a few days after Carmichael used the "Black Power" slogan at the "Meredith March Against Fear," he reportedly told King, "Martin, I deliberately decided to raise this issue on the march in order to give it a national forum and force you to take a stand for Black Power." King responded, "I have been used before. One more time won't hurt."In 1967, Carmichael stepped down as chairman of SNCC and was replaced by H. Rap Brown. The SNCC, which was a collective and, in keeping with the spirit of the times, worked by group consensus rather than hierarchically, was displeased with Carmichael's celebrity status. SNCC leaders had begun to refer to him as "Stokely Starmichael" and criticize his habit of making policy announcements independently, before achieving internal agreement, and gave him a formal letter of expulsion in 1967.

After his time with the SNCC, Carmichael attempted to clarify his politics by writing the book "Black Power" (1967) with Charles V. Hamilton and became a strong critic of the Vietnam War. During this period he traveled and lectured extensively throughout the world; visiting Guinea, North Vietnam, China, and Cuba. After his expulsion from the SNCC, Carmichael became more clearly identified with the Black Panther Party as its "Honorary Prime Minister." During this period he became more of a speaker than an organizer, traveling throughout the country and internationally advocating for his vision of "black power." [] , Charlie Cobb, From Stokely Carmichael to Kwame Ture. Accessed 17 March 2007.]

elf-imposed exile

However, Carmichael soon began to distance himself from the Panthers. The Panthers and Carmichael disagreed on the idea if white activists should be able to help the Panthers. The Panthers believed that white activists could help the movement while Carmichael thought as Malcolm X saying that the white activists needed to organize their own communities first. In 1969, he and his then-wife, the South African singer Miriam Makeba, moved to Guinea-Conakry where he became an aide to Guinean prime minister Ahmed Sékou Touré and the student of exiled Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah. [] , NY Times "Ready for Revolution" Book review. Accessed 17 March 2007.] Makeba was appointed Guinea's official delegate to the United Nations. [ "Miriam Makeba"] undated biography at Answers.Com. Accessed June 27, 2007.] Three months after his arrival in Africa, in July 1969, he published a formal rejection of the Black Panthers, condemning the Panthers for not being separatist enough and their "dogmatic party line favoring alliances with white radicals".

It was at this stage in his life that Carmichael changed his name to Kwame Ture to honor the African leaders Nkrumah and Touré who had become his patrons. At the end of his life, friends still referred to him interchangeably by both names, "and he doesn't seem to mind."

Carmichael remained in Guinea after separation from the Black Panther Party. He continued to travel, write, and speak out in support of international leftist movements and in 1971 collected his work in a second book "Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism". This book expounds an explicitly socialist, Pan-African vision, which he seemingly retained for the rest of his life. From the late 1970s until the day he died, he answered his phone by announcing "Ready for the revolution!"

While in Guinea, he was arrested one more time. Two years after Touré's death in 1984, the military regime which took his place arrested Carmichael and jailed him for three days on suspicion of attempting to overthrow the government. Despite common knowledge that President Touré engaged in torture of his political opponents, Carmichael had never criticized his namesake.

Carmichael and Makeba separated in 1973. After they divorced, he entered a second marriage with Marlyatou Barry, a Guinean doctor whom he also divorced. By 1998, his second wife and their son, Bokar, born in 1982, were living in Arlington, Virginia. Relying on a statement from the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party, his 1998 obituary in the New York Times referenced two sons, three sisters, and his mother as survivors but without further details.

Death and legacy

After two years of treatment at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, he died of prostate cancer at the age of 57 in Conakry, Guinea. He claimed that his cancer "was given to me by forces of American imperialism and others who conspired with them." [ "Stokely Carmichael, Rights Leader Who Coined 'Black Power,' Dies at 57"] November 16, 1998, New York Times. Accessed March 27, 2008.] He claimed that the FBI had introduced the cancer to his body as an attempt at assassination. [ Statement of Kwame Ture] undated between 1996 diagnosis and 1998 death. Accessed June 27, 2007.] After his diagnosis in 1996, benefits were held in Denver; New York; Atlanta; and Washington, D.C., to help defray his medical expenses; and the government of Trinidad and Tobago, where he was born, awarded him a grant of $1,000 a month for the same purpose.

In 2007, the publication of previously secret Central Intelligence Agency documents revealed that Carmichael had been tracked by the CIA as part of their surveillance of black activists abroad, which began in 1968 and continued for years. [ "Some Examples of CIA Misconduct"] , June 26, 2007 Associated Press report published in the Washington Post. AP report also published same date [ here] in the New York Times. Accessed June 27, 2007.]

In a final interview given to the "Washington Post", he spoke with contempt for the economic and electoral progress made during the past thirty years. He acknowledged that blacks had won election to major mayorships, but stated that the power of mayoralty had been diminished and that such progress was essentially meaningless. Stokely Carmichael is credited with coining the phrase "institutional racism", which is defined as a form of racism that occurs in institutions such as public bodies and corporations, including universities. In the late 1960s Carmichael defined "institutional racism" as "the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture or ethnic origin". [Richard W. Race, [ Analyzing ethnic education policy-making in England and Wales] (PDF), "Sheffield Online Papers in Social Research", University of Sheffield, p.12. Accessed 20 June 2006.]

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson gave a speech celebrating Carmichael's life, stating: "He was one of our generation who was determined to give his life to transforming America and Africa. He was committed to ending racial apartheid in our country. He helped to bring those walls down". [ [ Black Panther Leader Dies] , BBC, November 16, 1998. Accessed 20 June 2006.]

ee also

*African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
*Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement


Further reading

*Carmichael, Stokely, et al. "Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)". Scribner 2005, 848 pages. ISBN 0-684-85004-4.
*Carmichael, Stokely, et al. "Black Power: The Politics of Liberation". Vintage; Reissue edition 1992, 256 pages. ISBN 0-679-74313-8.
*Carmichael, Stokely, et al. "Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism". Random House 1971, 292 pages. ISBN 0-394-46879-1.

External links

* [ Stokely Carmichael]
* [ Stokely Carmichael Page] . Stokely Carmichael spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington on April 19, 1967. Audio and slideshow. Retrieved May 3, 2005.
* [ Stokely Carmichael FBI FOIA]
* [ A final interview with Kwame Ture in the "Washington Post" published April 8, 1998]
* [ A script and mp3 audio of Stokely Carmichael's Black Power Speech]

Research resources

* [ Stokely Carmichael-Lorna D. Smith Collection, 1964-1972] (5 linear ft.) is housed in the [ Department of Special Collections and University Archives] at [ Stanford University Libraries]


* [ Feb 17 1968] on
* [ consciousness and unconsciousness]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Stokely Carmichael — (29 juin 1941 – 15 novembre 1998), aussi connu sous le nom de Kwame Ture était un militant noir américain originaire de Trinité et Tobago, leader du Comité de coordination des étudiants non violents ( Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Stokely Carmichael — (* 29. Juni 1941 auf Trinidad; † 15. November 1998 in Conakry, Guinea; auch Kwame Toure) war Bürgerrechtler. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Literatur 3 Weblinks …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • 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 — Este artículo o sección sobre política necesita ser wikificado con un formato acorde a las convenciones de estilo. Por favor, edítalo para que las cumpla. Mientras tanto, no elimines este aviso puesto el 2 de octubre de 2007. También puedes… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Stokely Carmichael — ➡ Carmichael (II) * * * …   Universalium

  • 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

  • Carmichael — is a Scottish clan, from the village of Carmichael, in South Lanarkshire, Scottish Lowlands, United Kingdom. It is also the name of a family from the west coast of Scotland, from the Gaelic MacGillemichael, meaning son of the servant of Michael,… …   Wikipedia

  • Carmichael — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Albert A. Carmichael (1895–1952), US amerikanischer Rechtsanwalt, Politiker Alexander Carmichael (1832 1912), schottischer Autor und Volkskundler Archibald Hill Carmichael (1864–1947), US amerikanischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • 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

  • 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… …   Universalium

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