The Black Power Movement

Primary Source Set

The Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s was a political and social movement whose advocates believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency, and equality for all people of Black and African descent. Credited with first articulating “Black Power” in 1966, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee leader Stokely Carmichael represented a generation of black activists who participated in both Civil Rights and the Black Power movements. By the mid 1960s, many of them no longer saw nonviolent protests as a viable means of combatting racism. New organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, the Black Women’s United Front, and the Nation of Islam, developed new cultural, political, and economic programs and grew memberships that reflected this shift. Desegregation was insufficient—only through the deconstruction of white power structures could a space be made for a black political voice to give rise to collective black power. Because of these beliefs, the movement is often represented as violent, anti-white, and anti-law enforcement. This primary source set addresses these representations through artifacts from the era, such as sermons, photographs, drawings, FBI investigations, and political manifestos.

Additional resources for research

  1. Rethinking the Black Power Movement, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library.

  2. The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University.

  3. Malcolm X: Make it Plain, PBS.

  4. Interview: Eldridge Cleaver, PBS Frontline.

  5. “Black Power!”: Inside The Movement, NPR.

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