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Black Power


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Originating as a movement in the 1960s, it was developed into a coherent ideology by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton in their book Black Power (1969). It called upon African Americans to take pride in their culture and their descent. By exhibiting a greater sense of solidarity and community, they could create a distinctively Black economic and political base that would increase the bargaining power of African Americans in their claim for full equality in US society. Organizations closely associated with the Black Power movement, such as the Student Nonviolent Co‐ordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality, had been instrumental in the movement's original aim of integration.

As these goals were seen to be unfulfilled, Black Power adopted an increasingly assertive and confrontational rhetoric. The most prominent of the Black Power groups became the Black Panther Party for Self‐defense, which urged the self‐help of black communities through the organization of youth centres, health clinics, and so on. It also advocated the organization of paramilitary self‐defence units. The violence associated with such Black Power groups led many Whites to turn against the civil rights movement in the ‘White backlash’ of the late 1960s and 1970s. Black Power was opposed by the leaders and members of the civil rights movement such as Martin Luther King. The Black Power movement destroyed any hopes for the Black unity which it advocated, but its actions did result in a significant increase in cultural awareness among many young African Americans.

Subjects: History — Social Sciences.


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