“Black Power” to Black Lives Matter: Stokely Carmichael (aka: Kwame Ture) Speaks for Today

cover photo: April 19, 1967: Stokely at Garfield High School Seattle, WA

Observer – Michael Harrington

Are we witnessing a revolution?

I am seeking echoes from the Civil Rights era to answer that question.

Kwame Ture said before he died, “The job of a revolutionary is, of course, to overthrow unjust systems and replace them with just systems because a revolutionary understands this can only be done by the masses of the people.”

Are the masses of people in the street of 2020 revolutionaries?

Ture concluded that, “the task of the revolutionary is to organize the masses of the people, given the conditions of the Africans around the world who are disorganized, consequently all my efforts are going to organizing people.”

Again – just before Kwame Ture (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) leader of the All-African People`s Revolutionary Party died: his last words were,

“Organize! Organize!”

Sen Bernie Sanders said in 2019, “Real change, whether it was the labor movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement, the civil rights movement, all of you know from your history, it never comes from on top, it always comes from down below,”

Below means to “Organize! Organize!” Sanders concluded that real change, “… always comes when millions of people stand up, struggle, and fight for justice.”

This Generation and Their Moment

Why is it that a white person on the street will look at me as garbage? We have done nothing wrong to the community, the community has done us wrong. We will fight for George Floyd, Stephon Clark, Oscar Grant, Terrance Cruther, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and so many more until they are remembered.”

— Labrayia, Sacramento, High School Student California

During the Civil Rights Movement the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), organized and taught nonviolent protest. They endured physical violence and state repression all along the way. SNCC was fueled by those young people’s total rejection of white supremacy.

The scope and influence of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) created the most organized national youth movement of the 1960s.

*Todd Gitlin, president of the SDS (1963-1964), and sociology professor at Columbia University noted that the organization favored direct action to oppose “white supremacy” and “imperial war,” and to “achieve civil rights and the radical reconstruction of economic life (i.e., the redistribution of money into the hands of African-Americans in order to fight racism). SDS was increasingly suspicious of established authorities and looked askance at corporate power.”

How did the SDS grow so quickly, from fewer than 1,000 members in 1962 to as many as 100,000 in 1969?

“Organize! Organize!”

Thirty – One Summer’s ago in June 1989 the message from Tiananmen Square was …

I envy the freedom that my students enjoy here,” said Dr Rowena He, assistant professor of history at St. Michael’s College in Vermont and author of Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China.

Dr. He explained that as a teenager in China in 1989, “… I was around their age, millions of us took to the streets in cities throughout my home country demanding these basic rights that American students receive as their birthright and often take for granted.”

2010’s Arab Spring, social media helped youth organize an unprecedented revolution that started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, and other Middle Eastern countries.

During the Arab Spring, I learned all sorts of things from Twitter. I wouldn’t necessarily trust that information, but it gave me ideas about questions to ask. You can really learn things from the wisdom of crowds.”

* – Nicholas Kristof

September 2011 Occupy Wall Street (OWS)

I locate a great deal of the power of Occupy Wall Street in the name itself, ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ or ‘#OccupyWallStreet. It works because the name contains everything you need to know: the tactic and the target. The name is also modular. You can create your own offshoot in your own city.”

*- Dana Spiotta

In 2016 the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), galvanized indigenous youth. They rose up and defied the pipeline that passed near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) grew out of the Standing Rock protests and IIYC worked to inspire, organize, and empower young leaders on behalf of the environment.

The water is a woman, this great mother who’s just always providing life; endlessly, tirelessly providing life. And I’ve always felt such a deep love for the water just because she brings so much to us. She helps us renew. She helps us wash away, she helps us restore.” *- Eryn Wise

March for Our Lives (MFOL) was the student-led demonstration for national legislation to prevent gun violence in the United States. That march took place in Washington, D.C., on March 24, 2018, with over 880 sibling events throughout the country and around the world.

So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it just yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” – Emma Gonzales

Photo by Carlos Roso on Unsplash

August 2018, at age 15 Greta Thunberg Skolstrejk för klimatet (School strike for climate) Fridays for Future and the Extinction Rebellion

Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

Thunberg slammed the members of the U.N. for caring more about money and “fairytales of eternal economic growth” than collapsing ecosystems, mass extinctions and people suffering due to climate change.

Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash

2019 Hong Kong young people – the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) – visibly at the helm of demonstrations, protests and clashes, sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill which morphed into a broader cry for democracy and police accountability.

“Organize! Organize!”

Right now this generation finds the ground open for the evolution revolution to learn and absorb and dream and organize and stand and ACT.

Carmichael became the “Honorary Prime Minister” of the Black Panther Party. He was initially an integrationist, but when he became affiliated with the black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements he popularized the term,

“Black Power.”

In 1967 Carmichael and *Charles Vernon Hamilton coined the phrase “institutional racism”, which is defined as a form of racism that occurs through 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”.

On June 5, 2020 in a remarkable move nearly 30 independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council are calling for the United States to reform its criminal justice system in the wake of a recent spate of killings of African Americans, including at the hands of the police.

The origin story of policing in the United States of America starts with slave patrols and social control, where human property of enslavers was ‘protected’ with violence and impunity against people of African descent. In the US, this legacy of racial terror remains evident in modern-day policing”, they said.

Steven Posey checks his phone as he waits in line to vote, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at Central Park in Atlanta. Voters reported wait times of three hours. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Primary in Georgia June 9, 2020

In the contradiction of equality, the African American is still institutionally repressed. Please note the disenfranchisement in Georgia was centered in predominately black precincts.

LeBron James tweeted:

Everyone talking about “how do we fix this?” They say “go out and vote?”

What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?

One Georgia voter, Laura Barrón-López @lbarronlopez added:

“3hrs to vote today in GA.”

Then Brown drove over to predominantly white polling site in Atl suburbs

I come over to this side of town, and white folks are strolling in.

On my side of town, we brought stadium chairs.”

Regarding the Right to Vote in race defined United States Stokley said,

I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right.

Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived.”

The historian in Stockley Carmichael, broke down the paradigm of social and cultural racism years ago when he said, “… [cultural racism is] historically backed through scientific racism orbiological racism (by way of the 18th century). He declared, “that ideological view is on it’s deathbed.”

Over sixty years later, and into a new Century, the proponents of social and cultural racism are desperately reevaluating, revising, and rationalizing the justifications for their obsolete racist views. Maybe with this generation of revolutionaries they are facing the inevitable: IDEOLOGICAL EXTINCTION.

In the end Kwame emphasized the importance of people on each continent and diaspora know their history. He emphasized the importance of Africa being the center of the history for the people on that continent.

He said of America,

If the indigenous people of America Started their history with

the Arrival of Columbus they would be in trouble”.

“I’ve grown so attached to this place, I’ve grown attached to the people, I’ve grown attached to the land, the water, the air. It’s because of the Lakota and Dakota people that I now have new eyes to view the world that we live in. and to get back into that sense of tradition and prayer.

I’m going to stay as long as it takes to ensure the safety of our future generations, to make sure that they have water for their children, for my children, for my future generations to come, for everyone’s future generations to come. I’m not going anywhere until I see the drilling equipment leave. I’m not going to go until they dissemble that drill and leave this place for good.” Alexander Howland, 21

Remember that Kwame Ture’s last words were,

Organize! Organize!”

Rev Jesse Jackson eulogized Ture’s life in 1998

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“.

Rev Al Sharpton delivered a fierce eulogy in Houston for George Floyd.

Until we know the price for black life is the same as the price for white life, we’re going to keep coming back to these situations over and over again.

And as we lay you to rest today, the movement won’t rest until we get justice.”

A memorial to Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis on May 28. Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

Stokely Carmichael (aka: Kwame Ture) (June 29, 1941 – November 15, 1998)

He eventually developed the Black Power movement, first while leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), later serving as the “Honorary Prime Minister” of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and lastly as a leader of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP).

*Charles Vernon Hamilton (born October 19, 1929) is a political scientist, civil rights leader, and the W. S. Sayre Professor Emeritus of Government and Political Science at Columbia University

*Black Power: The Politics of Liberation is a 1967 book co-authored by Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and political scientist Charles V. Hamilton.

*Todd Gitlin, former president of SDS (1963-1964), sociology professor at Columbia University, and author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage

*Dana Spiotta award winning novelist Stone Arabia (2011) Eat the Document (2006) and Lightning Field (2001)

*Nicholas Kristof an American journalist, political commentator, and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes A regular CNN contributor and has written an op-ed column for The New York Times *Eryn Wise, 26, is a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico. She is the media liaison at the International Indigenous Youth Council and media coordinator at Sacred Stone Camp at the protest site.

Source materials: http://www.biography.com/people/stokely-carmichael-9238629


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