It was in 2012 when I first heard about Stokely Carmichael. It was summertime, and I had recently dropped out of College, (Greenville College) and honestly had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Little did I know I was just beginning my journey down a long path of self-awareness that lead me to the man I am today. Halfway through the summer, I decided to go back to school but this time I made sure to go to a school that cared about my future, and not how much money I had to offer. I decided to go to Missouri’s one and only HBCU, Harris-Stowe State University.
It was during this time in my life I ran across a documentary titled, “The Black Power Mixtape 1967 – 1975.” I can remember it like it was yesterday. I spent damn near 30 minutes surfing through Netflix looking for the right documentary to watch when I stumbled across a photo of a lovely light-skinned women with one of the most iconic fro’s I’ve ever seen. It was at that moment I knew I found the right joint to watch. Little did I know that lovely lady was no other than Angela Davis, but that’s another “Timeless Teachings” piece you’ll have to wait on 😉
In the documentary Swedish producers spent a great deal of time following Stokely Carmichael. They had clips of his speeches, interviews, and even records the FBI had secretly tapped of him and his colleagues behind closed doors. I must admit I was shocked… Completely f*cked up bruh. Here I am, a black man in America, at the age of 21, and never knew a man like Stokely Carmichael ever existed.
After watching the documentary I felt compelled to research more about Stokely Carmichael. Below I put together a few of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite speeches from brother Kwame Ture. I must note that this speech is widely recognized as the speech that gave birth to the phrase, “Black Power.” Lucky for us, the full speech is on Youtube! I’ll leave the video below so you can check it out on your own time!
“Black Power” October 29, 1966
“In the past six years or so, this country has been feeding us a “thalidomide drug of integration,” and that some Negroes have been walking down a dream street talking about sitting next to white people; and that that does not begin to solve the problem. That when we went to Mississippi we did not go to sit next to Ross Barnett; we did not go to sit next to Jim Clark; we went to get them out of our way; and that people ought to understand that; that we were never fighting for the right to integrate, we were fighting against white supremacy.”
“In order to understand white supremacy, we must dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody their freedom. No man can give anybody his freedom. A man is born free. You may enslave a man after he is born free, and that is in fact what this country does. It enslaves black people after they’re born so that the only acts that white people can do is to stop denying black people their freedom.”
“I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people. For example, I am black. I know that. I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that. Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me. So some boys had to write a bill to tell that white man, “He’s a human being; don’t stop him.” That bill was for that white man, not for me. I knew it all the time.”
“The question is, how can white society begin to move to see black people as human beings? I am black, therefore I am; not that I am black and I must go to college to prove myself. I am black, therefore I am.”
“How can we build institutions where those people can begin to function on a day-to-day basis, where they can get decent jobs, where they can get decent houses, and where they can begin to participate in the policy and major decisions that affect their lives? That’s what they need, not Gestapo troops, because this is not 1942, and if you play like Nazis, we playin’ back with you this time around. Get hip to that.”
“We have taken all the myths of this country and we’ve found them to be nothing but downright lies. This country told us that if we worked hard we would succeed, and if that were true we would own this country lock, stock, and barrel.”
“Why do white people in this country associate Black Power with violence? And the question is because of their own inability to deal with “blackness.” If we had said “Negro Power” nobody would get scared. (Everybody would support it. Or if we said power for colored people, everybody would be for that, but it is the word “Black,” it is the word “Black” that bothers people in this country, and that’s their problem.”
“Anything all black is not necessarily bad. Anything all black is only bad when you use force to keep whites out. Now that’s what white people have done in this country, and they’re projecting their same fears and guilt on us, and we won’t have it, we won’t have it.”