Stokely Carmichael, also known as Kwame Toure, is the Black philosopher who coined the term “Black Power”.
Carmichael was the youngest person imprisoned for participating in the 1961 Freedom Rides. He was jailed for 49 days.
After being arrested Carmichael moved away from MLK Jr’s nonviolence approach to self-defense or “by any means necessary” manner.
His activism includes joining the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), picketing a Woolworth’s store in New York, and participating in sit-ins in Virginia and South Carolina.
Although Carmichael received scholarships at prestigious white universities, he chose to attend a HBCU, Howard University in Washington D.C. He majored in philosophy and graduated with honors in 1964.
He joined the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) to help register Black voters in the south. He raised the number of registered Black voters from 70 to 2,600 which was 300 more than the white voters in the county.
Carmichael founded his own party, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization and he chose a black panther as his logo. It later provided the inspiration for the Black Panthers organization.
He gave an epic speech June 16th, 1966 in which he’s most known for. His speech came after the death of James Meredith, a civil rights activist that was the first Black person to attend the University of Mississippi.
Carmichael wrote the 1968 book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation which called for unity of Black people and building the Black community.
Until his dying day he answered the telephone with the greeting, “Ready for the revolution!”
Stokely Carmichael is part of our Black Rebel series for Black History Month.