BlackFacts Details

(1966) Stokely Carmichael, “Definitions of Black Power”

On July 31, 1966, Stokely Carmichael, the newly appointed Chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), describes black power to a mostly African American audience at Cobo Auditorium in Detroit.  Part of the address appears below.

Now weve got to talk about this thing called the serious coalition. You know what thats all about? That says that black folks and their white liberal friends can get together and overcome. We have to examine our white liberal friends. And Im going to call names this time around. Weve got to examine our white liberal friends who come to Mississippi and march with us, and can afford to march because our mothers, who are their maids, are taking care of their house and their children; we got to examine them [applause]. Yeah; Im going to speak the truth tonight. Im going to tell you what a white liberal is. You talking about a white college kid joining hands with a black man in the ghetto, that college kid is fighting for the right to wear a beard and smoke pot, and fighting for our lives [cheers and applause]. We fighting for lives [continued applause].

That missionary comes to the ghetto one summer, and next summer hes in Europe, and hes our ally. That missionary has a black mammy, and he stole our black mammy from us. Because while she was home taking care of them, she couldnt take care of us. Thats not our ally [applause]. Now I met some of those white liberals on the march, and I asked one man, I said, look here brother. I said, you make what, about twenty-five thousand dollars a year? He mumbled. I said, well dig. Look here. Here are four black Mississippians. They make three dollars a day picking cotton. See they have to march; you can afford to march. I say, here’s what we do. Take your twenty-five thousand dollars a year divide it up evenly. Let all five of you make five thousand dollars a year.  He was for everybody working hard by the sweat of their brow [laughter and shouts]. Thats a white liberal, ladies and gentlemen. Thats a white liberal.