He was also frustrated to be drawn again into nonviolent confrontations with police, which he no longer found empowering. After seeing protesters brutally beaten again, he collapsed from stress, and his colleagues urged him to leave the city.
.. Carmichael helped to increase the number of registered black voters from 70 to 2,600—300 more than the number of registered white voters. Black voters had essentially been disfranchised by Alabama’s constitution passed by white Democrats in 1901.
.. Black residents and voters organized and widely supported the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), a party that had the black panther as its mascot, over the white-dominated local Democratic Party, whose mascot was a white rooster. Since federal protection from violent voter suppression by the Ku Klux Klan and other white opponents was sporadic, most Lowndes County activists openly carried arms.
.. Although black residents and voters outnumbered whites in Lowndes, their candidate lost the county-wide election of 1965. In 1966, several LCFO candidates ran for office in the general election but failed to win. In 1970, the LCFO merged with the statewide Democratic Party, and former LCFO candidates won their first offices in the county.
.. Carmichael became chairman of SNCC in 1966, taking over from John Lewis, who later was elected to the US Congress. A few weeks after Carmichael took office, James Meredith was shot and wounded by a sniper during the solitary March Against Fear. Carmichael joined Martin Luther King Jr., Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers and others to continue Meredith’s march. He was arrested 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:
“ It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.
.. According to Carmichael: “Black Power meant black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs [rather than relying on established parties]”.
.. Carmichael led SNCC to become more radical. The group focused on Black Power as its core goal and ideology.
.. Carmichael ultimately sided with those calling for the expulsion of whites. He said that whites should organize poor white southern communities, of which there were plenty, while SNCC focused on promoting African-American self-reliance through Black Power.
.. Carmichael considered nonviolence to be a tactic as opposed to an underlying principle
.. that we were never fighting for the right to integrate, we were fighting against white supremacy. Now, then, 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; that is, they must stop denying freedom. They never give it to anyone.
.. Carmichael popularized the oft-repeated anti-draft slogan, “Hell no-We won’t go!” during this time.
.. Carmichael was targeted by a section of J. Edgar Hoover‘s COINTELPRO (counter-intelligence program) which focused on black activists; the program promoted slander and violence against targets that Hoover considered to be enemies of the US government.[52
.. A March 4, 1968 memo from Hoover states his fear of the rise of a black nationalist “messiah” and notes that Carmichael alone had the “necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”[56
.. Hoover stepped up his efforts to divide the black power movement. Declassifed documents show a plan was launched to undermine the SNCC-Panther merger, as well as to “bad-jacket” Carmichael as a CIA agent. Both efforts were largely successful: Carmichael was expelled from SNCC that year, and the rival Panthers began to denounce him.
.. Carmichael was present in Washington, D.C. the night after King’s assassination in April 1968. He led a group through the streets, demanding that businesses close out of respect. Although he tried to prevent violence, the situation escalated beyond his control. Due to his reputation as a provocateur, the news media blamed Carmichael for the ensuing violence as mobs rioted along U Street and other areas of black commercial development.
.. Carmichael soon began to distance himself from the Panthers. He disagreed with them about whether white activists should be allowed to participate in the movement. The Panthers believed that white activists could help the movement, while Carmichael had come to agree with Malcolm X, and said that the white activists should organize their own communities first.
.. in July 1969, Carmichael published a formal rejection of the Black Panthers, condemning them for not being separatist enough and for their “dogmatic party line favoring alliances with white radicals”.
.. Carmichael’s suspicions about the CIA were affirmed in 2007, when previously secret CIA documents were declassified, revealing that the agency had tracked Carmichael from 1968 as part of their surveillance of black activists abroad. The surveillance continued for years.
.. Kwame Ture, along with Charles V. Hamilton, is credited with coining the phrase “institutional racism“—defined as racism that occurs through institutions such as public bodies and corporations, including universities. In the late 1960s Ture 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.”
.. Garrow described the period in 1966 where Ture and other members of the SNCC managed to successfully register 2,600 African American voters in Lowndes County, Alabama, as the most consequential period in Ture’s life “in terms of real, positive, tangible influence on people’s lives.”
Evaluations from Ture’s associates are also mixed, with most praising his efforts and others criticizing him for failing to find constructive ways to achieve his objectives.
.. “Even though we kidded and called him ‘Starmichael,’ he could sublimate his ego to get done what was needed to be done….He would say what he thought, and you could disagree with it but you wouldn’t cease being a human being and someone with whom he wanted to be in relationship.”
Adolph Hitler—I’m not putting a judgment on what he did—if you asked me for my judgment morally, I would say it was bad, what he did was wrong, was evil, etc. But I would say he was a genius, nevertheless . . . . You say he’s not a genius because he committed bad acts. That’s not the question. The question is, he does have genius. Now when we condemn him morally or ethically, we will say, well, he was absolutely wrong, he should be killed, he should be murdered, etc., etc. . . . But if we’re judging his genius objectively, we have to admit that the man was a genius. He forced the entire world to fight him. He was fighting America, France, Britain, Russia, Italy once— then she switched sides—all of them at the same time, and whupping them. That’s a genius, you cannot deny that.
.. “Our paper on the position of women came up, and Stokely in his hipster rap comedic way joked that ‘the proper position of women in SNCC is prone’. I laughed, he laughed, we all laughed.
.. This viciously anti-women outlook is another reason why all of these nationalist movements went nowhere
The Republican Party, which under George W. Bush wrapped the Catholic-inflected language of “compassionate conservatism” around its pro-life commitments, has been pinballing between an Ayn Rand-ish libertarianism and the white identity politics of the Trump era.
.. old 20th century approaches to Catholic politics — both the ethnic-Catholic liberalism of a Mario Cuomo or a Ted Kennedy and the Catholic neoconservatism that shaped figures like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio or Paul Ryan — seem like they’re out of energy and influence.
.. Western liberalism writ large seems at once hostile to traditional religion and beset by internal contradictions, making the moment ripe for serious Catholic rethinking, a new and perhaps even post-liberal Catholic politics.
.. the religious votes for the cheerfully pagan Trump and the growing interest in traditionalism, radicalism and separatism, are not the culmination of the Catholic-evangelical alliance but rather a reaction to its political and cultural failures — and the failures of liberal religious politics as well.
.. leaders and thinkers have spent decades rallying to the republic, trying to bring about its moral and political renewal … only to see republican virtues decaying, liberalism turning hostile to religious faith, and democratic capitalism delivering disappointment and dislocation
.. in their evident paranoia about what the Americans are up to, you see a different spirit: a fear of novelty and disruption, and a desire for a church that’s primarily a steward of social peace, a mild and ecumenical presence, a moderate pillar of the establishment in a stable and permanently liberal age.
Remember, in the Gospels, Jesus often retreated to the desert to pray after meeting with crowds. In order to be active in the world as Christians, we must also be contemplative.
.. A reader passes on this BenOppish comment from the conservative writer Gary North, who ponders what the people who donated $17 million to conservative Christian Rick Perry’s failed second bid for the presidency could have done with that money instead of sending it to a long-shot Republican presidential candidate:
.. Congress does not change. The courts do not change. The federal bureaucracy does not change. “But if we can just elect a President…”
Reagan failed to change Washington. Why would anyone believe that Rick Perry could do this… especially Rick Perry?
The futility of national politics should be obvious. But it isn’t.