Stokely Carmichael speaking at the University of Michigan in 1967.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Of Stokely Carmichael And Black Power In America

March 10, 2014

Tufts University professor of history Peniel Joseph joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio to talk about his new book, Stokely: A Life about civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael.

Carmichael began as an organizer of non-violent protests, but was also integral in the founding of the Black Panther party before leaving the U.S. entirely.

 Joseph is the co-founder of the Tufts Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and the author of Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America, and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama.

Here are a few highlights from Peniel Joseph's BPR interview:

  • "I don't think any book can do justice to giant, iconic figures ... but I do feel like I know him."
  • "Black Power [was a] term that was taken by whites as being a declaration of war. Very threatening. Stokely was going to argue that it was about self-determination. (...) Over time, it [became] a call for political revolution, anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism."
  • 'Hell no, we won't go' was a phrase Carmichael popularized "to both white and black audiences."
  • Stokely Carmichael and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "They're both very charismatic individuals, but they're also individuals who don't hold grudges."
  • Carmichael was very popular in high school: "Hugely charismatic, on the soccer team, could talk [to] and befriend anyone."
  • "[The 1960s were] an extraordinarily heady time. He was hanging out with Fidel Castro, Allen Ginsberg."
  • J. Edgar Hoover, the State Department harassed Carmichael because "he was really messing up aspects of American foreign policy. He's with Fidel Castro in July and August of 1967" when he was persona non grata with the US.

>> Hear the full interview with Prof. Peniel Joseph on BPR:

>> Check out Peniel Joseph talking about the book on WGBH's Forum Network:

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