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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Greenwood in Leflore County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

“Black Power” Speech

 

Mississippi Freedom Trail

 
"Black Power" Speech Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 13, 2014
1. "Black Power" Speech Marker
Inscription.  
Front
On June 16, 1966, SNCC chairman Stokely Carmichael, released from jail after defying City of Greenwood orders by putting up tents to house participants of the James Meredith “March Against Fear,” made his famous “Black Power” speech here to an agitated crowd of about 600. As Carmichael shouted five times, “We want black power!” the crowd became more and more enthusiastic. The popular slogan revealed a growing difference between the nationalist philosophy of SNCC and the more moderate stances of the NAACP and the SCLC.

Rear
Black Power speech: On June 5, 1966 James Meredith began his solitary March Against Fear from Memphis to Jackson, to protest racism. Soon after starting his march, he was shot by a sniper. On hearing that news, other civil rights campaigners, including Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SCNC) chairman Stokely Carmichael (1941-1998), decided to continue the march in Meredith's name.

In Greenwood, Carmichael defied city orders by putting up tents to house Meredith March participants and was arrested—for the twenty-seventh
Black Power Speech Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
2. Black Power Speech Marker (Rear)
time. He had just been released from the Greenwood jail when he made the Black Power speech on June 16. SNCC members had been earlier discussing the possible use of the phrase, and originator Willie Ricks had used it in previous speeches. When Carmichael shouted it that day, however, the phrase catapulted him into the national spotlight and gave SNCC new visibility, more than it had garnered even with the 1964 Summer Project. Carmichael himself was surprised at the emphatic response the slogan received. The rhetoric was a major shift from the more understated style of the previous SNCC chairman, Bob Moses.

The slogan, as it grew in popularity, revealed a growing difference between philosophies of the more nationalistic SNCC and other more moderate organizations. Some leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led by Roy Wilkins, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), let by Martin Luther King Jr., were quick to criticize the phrase. King's criticism was more restrained, however, as he had longstanding relationships with SNCC members.

The fundamental question raised by the concept of Black Power was "Can American institutions work for black Americans?" Carmichael's call for "black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, and to build a sense of community" implied militance to many. The
"Black Power" Speech Marker photos image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 13, 2014
3. "Black Power" Speech Marker photos
** Click picture for more detail **
slogan also underlined questions of white participation in SNCC during Carmichael's tenure as chairman. The following year Carmichael joined with Charles V. Hamilton to write the book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (1967).
 
Erected 2013 by the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division. (Marker Number 10.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Freedom Trail marker series.
 
Location. 33° 30.707′ N, 90° 9.959′ W. Marker is in Greenwood, Mississippi, in Leflore County. Marker is at the intersection of Broad Street and Avenue M, on the right when traveling west on Broad Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 800 Broad Street, Greenwood MS 38930, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Elks Hart Lodge No. 640 (approx. half a mile away); Greenwood Underpass (approx. 0.7 miles away); Baptist Town (approx. 0.7 miles away); Furry Lewis (approx. mile away); Blues Deejays (approx. 0.9 miles away); Greenwood's First Artesian Well (approx. 1.1 miles away); WGRM Radio Studio (approx. 1.1 miles away); Greenwood Cotton Row District (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenwood.
 
Also see . . .
1. Stokely Carmichael: "Black Power" Speech (text).
"Black Power" Speech Marker at Broad Street Historical Park image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 13, 2014
4. "Black Power" Speech Marker at Broad Street Historical Park
(Submitted on September 24, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Stokely Carmichael Biography. (Submitted on September 24, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil Rights
 
"Black Power" Speech Marker at Broad Street Historical Park. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, September 13, 2014
5. "Black Power" Speech Marker at Broad Street Historical Park.
Stokely Carmichael image. Click for full size.
Public Domain
6. Stokely Carmichael
 

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Credits. This page was last revised on September 10, 2018. This page originally submitted on September 24, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 505 times since then and 37 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 10, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.   6. submitted on September 24, 2014, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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