Who popularized the term “Black Power”

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Chapter Civil Rights and Protests

Civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael (1941–1998; later Kwame Turé) was the first person to popularize the phrase “Black Power” as a slogan during James Meredith’s voter registration drive in Mississippi. As Carmichael conceptualized the term, it was intended to develop black consciousness in Mississippi by stressing separation along with black power. In 1966 he became head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and altered its orientation from nonviolent protest to black liberation. Carmichael was born in Trinidad and came to the United States when he was eleven. He later graduated from Howard University. During the turbulent atmosphere of the 1960s he was considered a radical. He was a member of the second group of Mississippi Freedom Riders, which originated in Washington, D.C. Carmichael left SNCC in 1967 to join the more militant Black Panthers. By 1968 he was prime minister of the Panthers’ most militant group, but in 1969 he left to join the Pan-African movement, which emphasized cultural nationalism. Carmichael’s activities often placed him at odds with other well-known African Americans. He moved to Guinea to escape police harassment and continued to espouse his revolutionary ideas.


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