black power – Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

The progress made by African Americans in the 1950s and early 1960s at achieving their civil rights was compromised by violence. Frankly, many young blacks rejected the courage and patience displayed by Dr. Martin Luther King in his non-violent response to injustice in American society.

The epitome of the Black Power Movement was the Black Panther Party. Founded by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and others, this party justified the use of violence in the accomplishment of black justice. Newton and Seale were harassed by police and Newton was convicted of killing a policeman.

The movement stimulated a number of other blacks to speak out. In 1968, Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver wrote his best selling autobiography, Soul on Ice and the poet Amira Baraka published an anthology of protest writing called Black Fire. And in 1970, Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton wrote Black Power, the book that defined the movement.

Protest during these years extended to sports as well as writing. In 1967, Heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali refused induction into the armed forces on both religious and political grounds. The next year, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their gloved fists in a black power salute from the victory stand at the Olympic Games in Mexico City. And two years after that, Curt Flood challenged the reserve clause in professional baseball eventually changing the nature of the sport.

A new generation of black political figures emerged during the 1970s. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm ran for president in 1972 and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan spoke with eloquence during the Watergate hearings

Benjamin Hooks replaced Roy Wilkins as the head of the NAACP and Andrew Young is elected mayor of Atlanta. Finally, in 1983, the Reverend Jesse Jackson announced his intention to make the first serious attempt by an African American to win the Democratic nomination for president. The torch had been passed to a new generation of leaders.

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black power – Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

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August 16, 2017   Posted in: Black Power |

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