The Black Power Speech Given By Stokely Carmichael

1577 words - 6 pages

In the October 1966 speech given by Stokely Carmichael, we are faced with a variety of terms involving racism and racist remarks. Just the year prior to this speech “blacks” had earned the right to vote on national ballots. The speech was given at the University of California Berkeley. Stokely Carmichael was born on June 29th, 1941, and he moved to the United States of America in 1951. This means at the time of his speech he was 25 years old. He was a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) later called the Student National Coordinating Committee. The significance of Mr. Carmichael giving the speech at the University of California Berkley was he was talking to the “youth” of the United States of America through the students of this University. However, at the time Mr. Carmichael gave the speech “90 percent of entering freshmen were white and most of them hailed from the state's middle and upper-middle classes” (Academic Senate). Nonetheless, this percentage was not extremely different from the rest of the universities in the nation. Mr. Carmichael recognized this fact and embraced it full-heartedly. The speech that was given on that October day was not solely aimed at the “black” community the majority of the speech is asking the white population what are they doing to try and aid the other communities rather than harm them. Mr. Carmichael keyed the use of the term “Black Power” through his later speeches. Throughout the speech given by Mr. Carmichael he uses the “Us-Them” comparisons as defined by Martin Buber.
The “Us-Them” attitude ,as defined by Buber, is when a group of people thinks that they are more correct or have more rights to something over another group of people or race. “In a much larger view, SNCC says that white America cannot condemn herself. And since we are liberal, we have done it” (Carmichael). Through this text from the speech from Mr. Buber you can see the comparison of the different groups that are being talked about throughout the speech and throughout history. Mr. Carmichael coined the “slogan ‘Black Power’ during the James Meredith marches in Mississippi in 1966” (Johnson, Jacqueline). The coining of this slogan allowed the SNCC to further their advances with their speeches using the Us-Them viewpoints. The lives that the SNCC and Mr. Carmichael lived were not always one of glory and praise “Those who have cut through the terrible complexities of life and offer such a scheme as this has been hailed as prophets in all ages” (Buber 14). Mr. Carmichael should have been seen as a prophet at his time period, however due to the civil rights movement and the amount of rights that were not yet had by the “black” community he was not seen as a prophet but as a man with ideas that were not socially acceptable because of races. However, a man who goes against the social normal is usually held as a prophet making Mr. Carmichael a prophet, but due to the lack of the...

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