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Information for Our People of Color!!

REMEMBERING THE FATHER OF BLACK POWER

KWAME TURE aka STOKELY CARMICHAEL
1941 to 1998

Kwame Ture, also known to many as Stokely Carmichael was born on June 29th, 1941 (this date), in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  He moved to the United States in 1952, and attended high school in New York City.  He attended the well known HBCU – Howard University, graduating with a B.A. Degree in Philosophy, and in 1961 became a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Ture/Carmichael became a member of the Freedom Riders also in 1961/  After receiving training in non-violent techniques, Black and White volunteers sat next to each other on buses as they travelled through the Deep South.  Consequently, local police refused to protect these passengers which resulted in them being severly beaten and injured by white mobs in several southern cities.  In Jackson, Mississippi, Ture/Carmichael was arrested and jailed for 49 days in Parchman Penitiary.  He also worked on the Freedom Summer Project, and became the Chairman of SNCC in 1966.
On June 5, 1966, James Meredith started a one-man solitary ‘March Against Fear,’ from Memphis to Jackson, to protest racism.  Shortly after starting his march he was shot by a sniper.  When news traveled, other civil rights campaigners/activists (including Kwame Ture/Stokley Carmichael, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Floyd McKissick) decided to continue the march in John Meredith’s name.  When marchers arrived in Greenwood, Mississippi, Ture/Carmichael and some of the other marchers were arrested by the local police.  This was the 27th time that Ture/Carmichael was arrested; and on the day he was released (June 16th, 1966), he gave his infamous Black Power speech.   In this speech, he called for, “Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, and to build a sense of community.”  He also advocated that African-Americans should establish and direct their own organizations, and urged a complete rejection of the values of American society.
In 1967, Ture/Carmichael collaborated with Charles V. Hamilton to write the book, “Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America.”  Leaders of various civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), rejected Carmichael’s ideas and accused him of ‘Black’ racism.
During these years in the mid- 1960’s, Carmichael adopted the slogan, “Black is Beautiful,” which developed a mood of Black pride and a rejection of white values of style and appearance.  This included adopting Afro hairstyles and African forms of dress.  (It was also during this time that the late James Brown made the infamous song, “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which was extremely popular in Black communities across the United States.)  Additionally, Ture/Carmichael began to criticize Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his ideology of nonviolence.  He eventually joined the Black Panther Party, and became their ‘Honorary Prime Minister.’
In the late 1960’s conflict arose between the Black Panther Party and Carmichael/Ture, as he did not agree with them as it related to allowing white supporters to assist in the movement.  Consequently, he was removed from the Black Panther Party.
When Ture/Carmichael denounced United States involvement in the Vietnam War, his passport was confiscated and held for ten (10) months.  When it was returned to him, he moved with his wife, Miriam Makeba (South African Singer and Activist) to Guinea, where he later wrote the book, titled, “Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism.”
Stokely Carmichael, who adopted the name Kwame Ture also foudned the ‘All-African People’s Revolutionary Party,’ and worked as an aide to Guinea’s Prime Minister, Sekou Toure.  After the death of the Prime Minister in 1984, Ture/Carmichael was arrested by the new military regime and charged with trying to overthrow the government.  However, he was released after spending three (3) days in jail.
Unlike some of his peers, who emerged from the Civil Rights Movement, Carmichael’s passions and beliefs always remained strong.  He continued to support a revolution as the answer to the serious problems of racism and unfairness, as he countinued answering his phone by stating, “Ready for the Revolution,” until his death.  He fought this fight until his death from prostrate canscer on November 15, 1998 in Conaky, Guinea.
Civil Rights Leader, Jesse Jackson gave a speach celebrating Carmichael’s life, stating:“He was one of our generation who was determined to give his life to transforming America and Africa.  He was committed to ending racial apartheid in our country.  He helped to bring these walls down.”
In 2002, Educator and Scholar, Molefi Kete Asante listed Stokeley Carmichael on his list of ‘100 Greates African-Americans.’
In 2007, the publication of the previously secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents revealed that Ture/Carmichael had been tracked by the CIA as part of their surveillance of Black Activists abroad, which began in 1968 and contined for several years.
Kwame Ture truly fought the fight, the struggle for our people!  And — this struggle still continues!!  We the people must continue to fight this fight!!!!
Below are a few quotes made by the sorely missed Kwame Ture also known as Stokely Carmichael:
“A man is born free.”
“An organization which claims to be working for the needs of a community – as SNCC does – must work to provide that community with a position of strength from which to make its voice heard.  This is the significance of Black Power beyond the slogan.”
“Capitalism is a stupid system, a backward system.”
“I also know that while I am Black I am a human being, and therefore, I have the right to go into any public place.  White people didn’t know that.  Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me.”
“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.”
“Seems to me that the institutions that function in this country are clearly racist, and that they’re built upon racism.”
“The first need of a free people is to define their own terms.”
“We are Revolutionaries.”
“We were aware of the fact that death walks hand in hand with struggle.”

NATALIE R. FITTEN

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