King (who regarded the younger Carmichael as one of the movement’s most promising leaders) believed in the concept of “redemptive suffering” and thought the sight of protesters accepting beatings, dog bites and fire-hosing would soften America’s heart and inspire the country to reject segregation. But after seeing so many of his comrades maimed and killed, Carmichael no longer shared that belief.
King had gotten a lot right, Carmichael said, but in betting on nonviolence, “he only made one fallacious assumption: In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent has to have a conscience. The United States has no conscience.”
Carmichael is interviewed by John Hart, James S. Doyle, and Martin Agronsky on CBS’s Face the nation. He defends the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, of which he is national chairman, and discusses related items, including “Black power” and the recent urban riots in the U.S.
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
Mr. Lewis charged Mr. McCain and Sarah Palin with “sowing the seeds of hatred and division” in their fervently red-meat rallies, not unlike “a governor of the State of Alabama named George Wallace” whose race-bating rhetoric
.. Mr. Lewis’s authority to chastise Mr. McCain comes not from his Bloody Sunday stand on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in 1965, but rather from his subsequent record on the hustings. His mettle was tested not only in Selma but also in three tough campaigns, characterized by tactics of personal destruction.
.. Peaceful marchers found themselves shadowed by a volunteer bodyguard of shotgun-wielding black militants, and a group known as the Atlanta Separatists was demanding that all whites be expelled from the civil rights leadership.
.. Things came to a head at SNCC’s convention in May that year, when late-night, back-room maneuvering elevated Stokely Carmichael to the chairmanship, ousting Mr. Lewis. Whites were purged from the organization, and its longtime white supporters were vilified. Carmichael’s successor, H. Rap Brown, changed the group’s name to Student National Coordinating Committee and directly advocated violence.
.. In 1982, Mr. Lewis, along with other newly elected black Atlanta city councilmen, faced sound trucks rolling through their neighborhoods accusing them of race treason for not supporting a major road project favored by Mayor Andrew Young. Mr. Lewis stood his ground.
..In his first bid for Congress, in 1986 .. .. He fought his way into office by outworking his opponent and — eloquently enough — outdebating him. He brought to Congress not only a visceral understanding of what it’s like to be clubbed into unconsciousness, but also a deep familiarity with the damage inflicted by take-no-prisoners political campaigning.
.. As a circuit court judge in the 1950s, Wallace was respectful toward blacks, and as a legislator from 1947 to 1953, he was a moderate. In 1948, when Strom Thurmond led the Southern delegations out of the Democratic convention to protest the party’s pioneer civil rights plank, Wallace stayed in his seat. Though no fan of the plank, he was yet more Democrat than demagogue, and was instrumental in rallying the other Southern alternate delegates to save the convention’s quorum, and pass its platform.
.. He might have carried a tolerant message into the Alabama governor’s mansion in 1958, but he lost the race after spurning the support of the Ku Klux Klan (which then backed his primary opponent, John Patterson)
.. Sadly for Wallace’s state, his region, his nation and himself, he did not respond as John Lewis did after his defeat by Carmichael. Mr. Lewis, whenever confronted with calls to divisiveness, chose to redouble his commitment to reason and tolerance. After his loss to Mr. Patterson, Wallace is said to have turned to an aide and declared, “I was out-niggered … and I’ll never be out-niggered again.”
.. In the final debate of this presidential campaign, faced with John McCain’s demand that he repudiate Mr. Lewis’s analogy, Barack Obama said he didn’t think his opponent was another George Wallace, and that sounds reasonable if you assume Mr. Lewis was referring to Wallace the vile racist, not the more tragic Wallace, the one-time straight campaigner who bartered conviction for expedience when he thought a raw appeal to division could gain him crucial votes... Mr. Lewis might be deemed generous in wishing on no other member of his profession the harrowed look I witnessed in George Wallace’s eyes as he struggled up off the floor in Boston and beheld what a hell he’d wrought.