Emory Douglas & The Saliency of the Black Panther’s Poster Art

Emory Douglas

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For decades, graphic artwork has shaped how issues are received in society. Advertisers hone in on art that captures and translates the desired message to the masses in a succinct and captivating way. But poster artists Emory Douglas’ work did not just deliver a message; it revolutionized a movement.

Born May 24th, 1943, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Douglas has been commonly referred to as the Norman Rockwell of the ghetto, seeing as he was no stranger to the oppression of the black community. He moved to the San Francisco Bay area when he was young, and it was there when he began a to run into trouble with the law. As a teenager, he was incarcerated

in the Youth Training School in Ontario, California, where he spent 15 months. It was during this time that Douglas began to dabble in graphic art, working in the prison’s print shop.

After his release, Douglas attended the City College of San Francisco where he became immediately drawn to and involved in the college’s Black Student Union. His upbringing as a young black male in the ghetto of the Bay Area had given Douglas a deeply harbored passion for social change, and it was his involvement with the Black Student Union that honPic2ed his energy on the oppression of African Americans. He made the decision to major in commercial art, his hope being to bridge his new passion for art with his desire to partake in social activism.

Over the course of his college career, Douglas quickly created artwork that had a style particular to himself. He combined elements of printmaking, collage work, and high art to produce easily recognizable prints that spoke to the topics of  social injustice, the thing he was passionate about eradicating. It was this distinct style that caught the eye of Bobby Seale,Pic3 who was one of the co-founders of the emergent Black Panther Party.

Seale was looking for a person to manage the creative campaign of the activist group’s newspaper, and Douglas was the man for the job. In 1967, Douglas was appointed to be the Minister of Culture for the Black Panthers where he was responsible for developing the activist group’s brand. He began creating ad artwork that he referred to as “militant-chic”and created propaganda campaign art that would be able to attract new members. The newspaper quickly became one of the most popular black newspapers with circulation eventually breaking into the 200,000s. This prominence and popularity of the newspaper gave Douglas a very notable position within the party, and with his platform, he transformed the group’s newspaper into a site of artistic visualization that depicted the oppression and disenfranchisement of the black community.

His work quickly became something transcendent, perfectly combining technical aspects of branding and advertising with aspects of art all serving the purpose of political activism for a cause Douglas was passionate about. The poster art he began creating, therefore, was not just art, nor was it just propaganda; it was something much larger.

Colette Gaiter, a professor who currently teaches graphic design at the University of Delaware and who has studied Douglas’ work in depth, says that the artist “profoundly understood the power of images in communicating ideas”. She said his work did

twoPic4 things; it “illustrated the conditions that made revolution seem necessary” and “constructed a visual mythology of power for people who felt powerless and victimized”.

His work featured figures that were distinct and recognizable to be his by his signature thick black outlines. The images he produced for the Black Panther newspaper typically reflected the “militant-chic” look he was going for, displaying African American men and women holding guns or pigs that symbolized police and the justice system on a larger scale. He utilized key points of black power fashion, clothing his figures in traditional African garbs and giving them bushy afros. He would also utilize catching headlines meant to motivate and inspire the black community to take action. He was able to formulate profound messages in just a couple of words that, when paired with his moving artwork, had an earth shattering effect. His work was raw and unfiltered as he allowed his own personal experiences to influence what he created. It had all the technical aspects of effective propaganda art, but exemplified a deeper sense of understanding for the frustration of the African American people.

It was this understanding that Douglas had that has given his art saliency over the years, where it has transformed from representation for the Blank Panthers to representation for the Black Lives Matter movement. 50 years after the fact, Douglas’ black power art has remained profound and gives a material form to black pride, linking him to many other black artists of the time who sought to bring light to the the lives of the oppressed. In this way, his art has a processual memory to it; Douglas obviously did not realize the issues he was combating at the time would still be so topical in the years to come. The art he created for the Black Panther’s confronts topics such as protest, powerful black women, justice, and generally giving power to a disenfranchised people, all topics which are still relevant today. It was Douglas’ “profound understanding” of these topics that allowed him the ability to create such salient work that is representative not of a time or of an activist group, but of a people.

His work revolutionized what the New York Times referred to as a marriage between art and activism, exemplifying how propaganda poster art has the power to not just be propaganda poster art. It can become a vessel for change and provide strength to a community who has otherwise been denied it.

Douglas’ art was and continues to be a testament of hope to black power, therefore making it something so much larger than mere poster art.

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Final Thoughts: 

One thing I did not focus on when creating my site was if Douglas continues to make work now specifically geared towards the Black Lives Matter movement. His work created in the 60s is still relevant to the cause, but I would be interested to know if he is currently making new work.

Sources: 

“Emory Douglas.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Apr. 2017. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

“Emory.” South Atlantic Bulletin 31.4 (1966): 16. PDF Document. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

Russonello, Angelica Mckinley and Giovanni. “Fifty Years Later, Black Panthers’ Art Still Resonates.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

“The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, Black Panther.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 27 Oct. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

 

Image Sources: 

Biography by Pitchaya Sudbanthad  September 01, 2008. “Emory Douglas’ Design Journey.” AIGA | the Professional Association for Design. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

“The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, Black Panther.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 27 Oct. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

 

“The Home of Common Sense & Proper Propaganda”: African American Bookstores as Activist Platforms

The Black Power era was defined just as much by cultural exploration, reinvention, and pride as by radical politics, and it had a great stake in finding conduits for the all-important flow of ideas.  Its diverse ideologies and expressions came together in a form of community organizing that combined the intellectual and pragmatic aspects of the movement, all outside the bubble of the academy: African American bookstores.

These bookstores served as ideological havens, platforms for community organization and service, and gateways to a new political consciousness for black Americans.  They dotted the country, from Washington, D.C. to Oakland, California, and pulled in patrons not just from the heterogeneous Black Power community in America, but from black intellectual and political circles worldwide.  In the political climate of the Black Power era, a bookstore could be much more than an archive for knowledge: it could produce knowledge, and it could give rise to political action.

Bookstore owners understood that awakening the political consciousness of black Americans was a process that engaged both the past and the future to redefine black identity.  They did so by exploring not only contemporary art and politics, but Pan-African history and myth.  All these things were tools in the effort to inspire and mobilize a new wave of black activists, artists, and politicians.  Booksellers also worked to counter the white-dominated narratives of public life and memory in America, challenging accepted ideas of where education should come from, who can serve a community’s needs and be memorialized for it, and who has access to public and intellectual spaces.

“If you can’t find it, it’s because Michaux’s got it,” bookseller Lewis Michaux used to say, taking pride in the high sales numbers and varied stock of his National Memorial African Bookstore[1].  Founded in Harlem in 1933, Michaux’s bookstore was a major site of African American intellectual life even before the birth of the Black Power Movement.  It drew its fame partly from the prominent artists and politicians who frequented its stacks, partly from its role as a site for rallies and speeches, and partly from the outsize personality of its owner.  Called “The Professor,” Lewis Michaux was an outspoken activist, organizer, and educator.  He advised Malcolm X and forged connections with African leaders, despite having little formal education himself.  He also took unabashedly controversial stances on religion, and put his own spin on Marcus Garvey’s Afro-centric empowerment politics.

A view of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem circa 1970.
The National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem, circa 1970 – “Knowledge Is Power And You Need It Every Hour”

The National Memorial African Bookstore was on Harlem’s Seventh Avenue, the “Great Black Way.”  Michaux’s self-imposed role as bookseller, activist, and intellectual guide helped to make it a crossroads of African American and Pan-African intellectual exchange.  Proudly branding his store “The Home of Common Sense and Proper Propaganda,” he aimed to foster empowerment and political awareness among black Americans.  However, this was not in order to return to Africa, but to enact social change in the United States.  “Some young boys came into my bookstore one time and gave me a closed fist salute,” he said in a 1976 interview with the New York Times. “I said ‘what’s that?’ They said, ‘black power.’ I said ‘open your hand. See, you ain’t got nothing in it. Black is beautiful, but knowledge is power”[3].

Redevelopment eventually pushed the bookstore to the fringes of its former neighborhood, and it closed in 1974.  However, by the final years of the Black Power Movement Michaux’s radical legacy had begun to move into the mainstream.  Harlem’s commemorative Lewis Michaux Book Fair received city and state funding: the official endorsement of a figure who had made his reputation from the intellectual and racial fringe.  A younger generation of African American activists had also followed in his footsteps, opening political bookstores at other hotbeds of black activism: Liberation Bookstore in Harlem, Marcus Books in Oakland, Uhuru Bookstore in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Drum and Spear Bookstore and Press in Washington, D.C.

Liberation Bookstore
Founder Una Mulzac outside the Liberation Bookstore in Harlem

Founded in 1968 by former members of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Drum and Spear Bookstore and Press was the next step in bookstore-centric Black Power activism.  The nation’s capital had just endured a tumultuous spring, as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. stoked racial tensions into open rebellion.  The Drum and Spear’s founders included Ralph Featherstone, Charlie Cobb, Judy Richardson, and Courtland Cox, and they approached their new project with SNCC’s political aims in mind.  The store stocked books on a broad spectrum of Pan-African and African American subjects, from poetry, language, and cooking to radical political theory, and its contents would eventually supply African American studies programs and black preschools around the country.

Like the National Memorial African Bookstore, the Drum and Spear was created as a site for consciousness-raising and community mobilization.  Richardson noted that the drum of the store’s name represented Pan-African exchange, while the spear represented “whatever else might be necessary for the liberation of the people”[2].  Its staff created a network of black-owned businesses and institutions across the city, established a printing press, and used the bookstore space alternately as a debate forum, preschool, clinic, and informal classroom.  Staff members helped their patrons develop a greater political consciousness by engaging them in discussion and making reading suggestions, and longtime patrons went on to do the same for newcomers.  Reaching overseas, the store owners even established an information center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Flyer published by Drum & Spear Bookstore & Press

Though independent bookstores still function as sites of activism, the most influential black bookstores of the Black Power era rose and fell with the movement.   The majority of political black bookstores were open about the fact that they placed ideological goals above financial ones.  They were commercial sites that often failed to profit, focusing instead on their community impact.   As niche businesses, their memory belongs mostly to members of the black intellectual and activist circles of the time: those people who were directly invested in their ideological mission.  Few of the original stores remain, but they mark out a legacy of formal and informal social justice activism, molded to the times and to the needs of their community.


Related Sites of Memory

The Black Scholar: the first academic journal of its kind

Channeling Pan-Africanism: The Role of Radio in the Black Power Movement


Sources

[1] Emblidge, David. “Rallying Point: Lewis Michaux’s National Memorial African Bookstore.”  Publishing Research Quarterly, vol. 24, issue 4, 2008, pp. 267-276. Via Springer Link.

[2] Beckles, Colin. “Black Bookstores, Black Power, and the FBI: The Case of Drum and Spear.” The Western Journal of Black Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, 1996, pp. 63-71. Via ProQuest.

[3] Fraser, Gerald C. “Lewis H. Michaux: One for the books.”  New York Times, 23 May 1976.

Image Sources

National Memorial African Bookstore, by Jack Garofalo, via  Western Pennsylvania Public Radio, WPSU.org

Liberation Bookstore, by Bruce Stansbury, via The Boston Globe, bostonglobe.com 

Drum & Spear flyer, via African American Intellectual History Society, aaihs.org

“The Walk for Good & Right” Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 1966 March Against Fear

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Promotional banner of the commemorative “Walk for Good & Right,” displaying multiple sponsors and honouring James Meredith’s legacy since his 1966 march. Videos show the marchers and organisers holding this banner up throughout the event. Photograph source: https://www.tougaloo.edu/50th-anniversary-commemoration-march-against-fear

On June 26th, 2016, around 200 people in Jackson, Mississippi, participated in the “Walk for Good and Right”. It was the last day and event in a 3-day event that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the James Meredith “March against Fear” in June 1966. I’m particularly looking at the last event in a 3-day event.

James Meredith was a civil rights activist known for being the first African-American student admitted in the University of Mississippi. The media calls him the “first black to integrate the University”. In 1966, four years after he was admitted into the school, he decided to embark on a “March Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi. For Meredith, the march was a demonstration against the culture of racism and fear in Mississippi, and a way to encourage African Americans to register to vote. What began as a small-scale march (he only invited a few black men) grew into a movement involving more than 20,000 people, including notable civil rights leaders from various groups, like Martin Luther King Jr (SCLC), Stokely Carmichael (SNCC), Roy Wilkins (NAACP). But it was most of all Meredith getting shot in Hernando, Mississippi, on the second day of his march, that inspired the eventual scale and legacy of the march. Meredith later returned from the hospital to join the march, and they registered over 4,000 African-Americans to vote in various counties.

I find this commemorative event an interesting site of memory for the 1966 “March against Fear”, because the organisers and participants in 2016 somewhat re-create the journey that the participants took during the original march in 1966. Hence, this commemoration makes certain places material sites of memory, and redefines their connections from partial to collective memories along the journey. The walk officially began at the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Centre, which was also holding an exhibit on Meredith, “Am I or Am I Not a Citizen?” that the participants were encouraged to visit. Then, the participants (around 200) walked through downtown Jackson to the Mississippi State Capitol, where Meredith was the featured speaker.

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James Meredith in the centre, walks with supporters from the museum to state capitol. From the coordinated t-shirts many of the marchers wear, we can see greater organisation and ‘official’ order in this commemorative march, as compared to the more spontaneous and riotous march in 1966. Photograph by Shanderia K. Posey. Source: http://themississippilink.com/2016/06/30/march-against-fear-events-inspire-educate/

In the following video, we can see that this commemorative march takes a much calmer and more official tone as compared to the violence and chaos of the 1966 march. The presence of police cars protecting the marchers signifies the progress towards more official and peaceful forms of civil rights protest. (The video unfortunately cannot be embedded, so please click on the link below to view it!)

People march to remember 1966 “Walk Against Fear”

The name of this commemoration also suggests a possible retrospective nominalisation. It radically changes the rebellious tone of “March against Fear” into a more peaceful and neutral “Walk for Good and Right”. Instead of an outright “march” in the name that asserts the participants’ resistance and rebellion, the “walk” last year suggests an effort to underline a more peaceful tone. Also, the “for” in the name instead of “against” suggests more unity, organisation toward certain goals, and a non-violent approach to protest. This difference reminds me of the disagreements between civil rights leaders in the 1960s, like those between the SNCC and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. about the violence of their activism. The phrase “black power” gained popularity during the 1966 “March against Fear” (Stokely Carmichael used the phrase in his speech after he was released from jail for a rally that was part of the March) but the popular meaning encouraged the civil rights movement to deviate from the non-violent tactics of Dr King, towards the more militant defiance led by Stokely Carmichael and Malcolm X (Diouf and Woodard, 12). Yet, I would argue that the militant definition of black power heightens the emotional intensity of the civil rights movement. The 1966 march and Meredith’s shooting had defined the black power movement paradoxically by the emotions of fear and panic. This emotional emphasis on fear also surrounded the Rainbow Coalition. In his essay, David Johnson Thornton argues that the Jack Thornell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Meredith crying in pain on the road had made the shooting and its emotional fear a central image of the march and the black power movement. The photograph’s circulation in various newspapers had prompted civil rights leaders such as Dr. King, Stokely Carmichael and Roy Wilkins to band together and resume Meredith’s march. In a similar way, Jimmie Lee Jackson’s murder was also another violent act that inspired unity for the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery, another landmark event in black power history.

However, the “Walk for Good and Right” interestingly did not walk past the site in Hernando where Meredith was shot. This choice suggests to me that this commemorative event selects to emphasise non-violent civil rights activism as representative of Meredith’s “March against Fear”. Also, the event uses the site of the state capitol and its memory of the largest civil rights demonstration in Mississippi history, attended by approximately 15,000 individuals. The concluding site of the 1966 march thus became also the concluding site of the 2016 march. The state capitol site commemorates both the rare unity of various civil rights leaders to continue the march, and Meredith’s resilience to finish his original march after being shot. Hence, the choice to honour Meredith seems to emphasise the emotional memory of unity and resilience, over helplessness and fear. To me, the commemorative march represents a non-violent and unifying (even with state officials) power.

The following photograph by Bob Fitch captures the large and passionate participation from the African-American community for the 1966 March Against Fear in front of the state capitol building.

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The 1966 March against Fear, captured here at its climactic conclusion in front of the Mississippi State Building, received a lot more public and media attendance than the 2016 commemoration. (Photograph by Bob Fitch.)

As the following video shows, Meredith used most of his speech to speak about his religious faith and to lead the audience in singing several gospel songs (like “This Little Light of Mine”). He thus recreated the traditional rally (the 1966 rally at the state capitol also included speeches and singing) and reiterated the agitation in 2016. Ultimately, I feel like this focus on honouring Meredith allows him to benefit most from the commemorations. He certainly developed his individual memory and reputation as not just a civil rights leader, but a hero with a legacy that was honoured. Throughout the 3-day event series, Meredith also sold and signed his books, which suggests that he used both the historical and commemorative memories to gain some monetary profit.

The Mississippi Today reported that other civil rights veterans active during 1966 also attended and shared their memories at the end of this commemoration. Flonzie Brown Wright shared about speaking at the state capitol fifty years ago. This commemoration encouraged ordinary people from the public, religious leaders, civil rights veterans and some state leaders to congregate. Their sharing of memories also locates the commemoration in the processual memory of the March against Fear, leading into the larger processual memory of black power and civil rights. Events from the previous two days also brought these people together for panels that educated young African-Americans about the intergenerational movements for black civil rights.

On the promotional banner made for the commemorative walk (the first photograph on the top of my post), we can see that the event had multiple sponsorships. The James Meredith Institute for Citizenship and Responsible Action, the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, and the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement sponsored the event. Nissan was the corporate sponsor the whole commemorative event series over the three days. As you can see in the video above, the marchers held up the promotional banners of the walk that feature the sponsors. The sponsorships from the museum and Nissan suggest the commercial use of the “March against Fear” memory for corporate gain. The participation of the museum also adds to the official tone of this event, giving it state legitimisation and much more ordered organisation than the 1966 march had.

Compared to the massive crowd in the 1966 rally, the 2016 commemorations did not draw a very large crowd. News sources say that around 200 people participated, but their photos and videos do not show even that many. The commemorations also only attracted small local newspapers and broadcast channels to report about the event, in contrast to the media attention for the 1966 rally. Thus, the commemorations did not become a public or national memory on a large scale. I could not find a lot of information about the “Walk for Good and Right”. Without media coverage to archive the event, I feel like the commemorative march does not have much opportunity to develop in public and social memory.

However, the commemorative march does serve as a rallying point to educate and agitate youths. Civil rights leaders have referenced this commemorative march as a symbol of the Meredith March’s legacy and unity in the African-American community. Aram Goudsouzian, University of Memphis history department chair, mentioned the “Walk for Good and Right” during a panel in the university, on March 2017. Hence, the commemoration served as an educational and activist tool to illustrate how African-Americans today should carry on the legacy of early civil rights leaders like Meredith during his 1966 march.


Edit (April 17):

It seems that Nissan’s sponsorship of the “Walk for Good and Right” may have been a pre-emptive attempt to repair its bad reputation for civil rights abuses. According to the United Automobile Workers (UAW) labour union, Nissan has long been facing criticism for mistreating its African-American workers at its manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi. Canton was the site of the violent clash between marchers and the state police during the 1966 March Against Fear. Hence, Nissan could use its sponsorship of the commemoration of a major civil rights event as a marketing tool that expresses Nissan’s support of civil rights. This commemorative march now becomes a (rare) positive memory in Nissan’s history with civil rights. As the workers at Nissan are still recently organising protests at the plant, I believe they might view Nissan’s sponsorship of the commemoration as hypocrisy, which might then damage the peaceful memory of the walk.

Sources:
Diouf, Sylviane A., Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Komozi Woodward. Black Power 50. The New Press, 2016.

Fitch, Bob. Massive crowd gathers in front of Jackson state capitol building. 1966. Stanford University Libraries, California. The Bob Fitch Photography Archive, https://purl.stanford.edu/yq589zt0871 Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.

Helsel, Amber. “Walking from Memphis: James Meredith’s Bloody ‘March Against Fear’ 50 Years Later.” Jackson Free Press, 23 Jun. 2016, http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/jun/23/commemorating-50th-anniversary-march-against-fear/ Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.

“James Meredith “Walk for Good and Right” June 26, 2016.” YouTube, uploaded by Meredith Coleman McGee, 28 June 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F21Yo45EUnY

Norwood, Ashley F.G. “Meredith and marchers rally for good and right.” Mississippi Today, 27 Jun. 2016, https://mississippitoday.org/2016/06/27/meredith-and-marchers-rally-for-good-and-right/ Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.

Posey, Shanderia K. “March Against Fear events inspire, educate.” The Mississippi Link, 30 Jun. 2016, http://themississippilink.com/2016/06/30/march-against-fear-events-inspire-educate/ Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.

Steinberg, Sasha. “‘March Against Fear’ participants encourage MSU students to overcome fear, serve others.” Mississippi State University, 2 Mar. 2017, http://www.msstate.edu/newsroom/article/2017/03/%E2%80%98march-against-fear%E2%80%99-participants-encourage-msu-students-overcome-fear/ Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.

Stewart, Charles J. “The evolution of a revolution: Stokely Carmichael and the rhetoric of black power.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 83.4 (1997): 429-446.

Thornton, Davi Johnson. “The Rhetoric of Civil Rights Photographs: James Meredith’s March Against Fear.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 16.3 (2013): 457-487.

WJTV Staff. “People march to remember 1966 “Walk Against Fear.”” WJTV, Jackson, Mississippi, 26 Jun. 2016, http://wjtv.com/2016/06/26/people-march-to-remember-1966-walk-against-fear/ Accessed 15 Apr. 2017.

Stokely Carmichael, Definitions of Black Power (1966)

Reading as Test Post: Stokely Carmichael, “Definitions of Black Power”

On July 31, 1966, Stokely Carmichael, the newly appointed Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), describes black power to a mostly African American audience at Cobo Auditorium in Detroit.  Part of the address appears below.

Now we’ve got to talk about this thing called the serious coalition. You know what that’s all about? That says that black folks and their white liberal friends can get together and overcome. We have to examine our white liberal friends. And I’m going to call names this time around. We’ve got to examine our white liberal friends who come to Mississippi and march with us, and can afford to march because our mothers, who are their maids, are taking care of their house and their children; we got to examine them [applause]. Yeah; I’m going to speak the truth tonight. I’m going to tell you what a white liberal is. You talking about a white college kid joining hands with a black man in the ghetto, that college kid is fighting for the right to wear a beard and smoke pot, and fighting for our lives [cheers and applause]. We fighting for lives [continued applause].

That missionary comes to the ghetto one summer, and next summer he’s in Europe, and he’s our ally. That missionary has a black mammy, and he stole our black mammy from us. Because while she was home taking care of them, she couldn’t take care of us. That’s not our ally [applause]. Now I met some of those white liberals on the march, and I asked one man, I said, look here brother. I said, you make what, about twenty-five thousand dollars a year? He mumbled. I said, well dig. Look here. Here are four black Mississippians. They make three dollars a day picking cotton. See they have to march; you can afford to march. I say, here’s what we do. Take your twenty-five thousand dollars a year divide it up evenly. Let all five of you make five thousand dollars a year.  He was for everybody working hard by the sweat of their brow [laughter and shouts]. That’s a white liberal, ladies and gentlemen. That’s a white liberal. You can’t form a coalition with people who are economically secure. College students are economically secure; they’ve already got their wealth; we fighting to get ours. And for us to get it is going to mean tearing down their system, and they are not willing to work for their own destruction. Get that into your own minds now [applause]. Get that into your own minds now [continued applause]….

When I talk about Black Power, it is presumptuous for any white man to talk about it, because I’m talking to black people [applause]. And I’ve got news for our liberal friend Bobby Kennedy. I got news for that white man. When he talks about his Irish Catholic power that made him to the position where he is that he now uses black votes in New York City to run for the presidency in 1972, he ought to not say a word about Black Power. Now the Kennedys built a system of purely Irish Catholic power with Irish Nationalism interwoven into it. Did you know that? And that’s how come they run, rule, own Boston lock stock and barrel including all the black people inside it. That’s Irish power. And that man going to get up and tell you-all; well he shouldn’t talk about Black Power. He ran and won in New York City on Black Power; his brother became president because Black Power made him president [shouts and applause]. Black Power made his brother president [continued applause]. And he’s got the white nerve to talk about Black Power [continued applause]….

Sources:

Thomas R. West ed., To Redeem A Nation: A History and Anthology of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Brandywine Press, 1993), pp. 245-246

– See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/1966-stokely-carmichael-definitions-black-power#sthash.kmQ3MuwP.dpuf