Monday, June 19, 2006

Black Power's Quiet Side

Black Power's Quiet Side - New York Times: "JUST over 40 years ago, on June 16, 1966, Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, mounted a podium on a sticky evening in the Mississippi Delta and introduced the phrase "Black Power" to a crowd of civil rights demonstrators. "Black Power" quickly became the controversial slogan for a movement that was largely perceived as rejecting the civil rights movement's nonviolent tactics and goals of integration in favor of a new ethos of black identity, self-defense and separatism.

For the next several years expressions of black power appeared everywhere: from gun-toting Black Panthers and clench-fisted athletes at the Olympics to sky-high Afros and dashiki-clad poets, politicians and actors. Then, like a bright streaking comet, the movement seemed to vanish as quickly as it appeared, plagued by internal divisions, poor leadership and pressure from authorities.

Historians tend to regard black power's polemics, boisterous nationalism and misogyny as antithetical to the civil rights movement's dreams of community. Its reputation as having helped unleash urban violence — and a white backlash — remains a fixed part of civil rights scholarship and public memory. "

Peniel E. Joseph, an assistant professor of Africana Studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, is the author of the forthcoming "Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America."

No comments: