tv Stokely Carmichael CSPAN December 12, 2015 2:00pm-3:51pm EST
fire! ready! said, i will stay here. ,> on american history tv charles cobb joins a panel of authors and historians to discuss the life and legacy of civil rights and pan african movement leader stokely carmichael. his legacyiscusses as a voice for equal rights and the black power movement in the united states and is an organizer for the revolutionary party. the association for the study of african american life in history posted this event. it's a little under two hours. >> good afternoon.
i'm at the university of memphis. welcome to the roundtable discussion of stokely carmichael . we thought this would be an appropriate moment to discuss stokely carmichael. an important locus of civil rights organizing. his political journey takes us through atlanta. born in trinidad, raised in the bronx, educated at howard university. moreover, at the 50 year anniversary, between the most formative experiences of stokely carmichael's political life. he organized the freedom independent -- like party.ependent he introduced the slogan "black
power." he organized in atlanta and washington, d.c. he traveled the world in alliance with revolutionary political movements. moving to ginny, changing his name and devoting his last years to the all african people's revolutionary party. we brought together a panel of historians and activists. we begin with charles cobb junior. a scholar of the black freedom movement. he attended harvard university and got involved in demonstrations against segregation. he came to mississippi in 1962. he later helped found the center for black education and washington, d.c. he worked as a journalist for npr, pbs, national geographic. he is currently a duke this his books
interestsch include black feminism. finally, chris johnson is these a supervisor history at the university of memphis with a phd in history from yale university. concernsrch themes including feminism and -- sexuality and afro asian he's at work on a book project in the interwoven itineraries of black revolutionaries and 20th -- i have tailored one question to each of the participants here to rub their experience and research. -- geared towards their experience and research. after the poor questions -- four
questions for our four participants, we want to leave plenty of time for comments and questions from the audience. cobb that she mr. worked for years alongside -- you workedhael for years alongside stokely carmichael. >> the short answer to your question is stokely carmichael as the organizer. can everybody hear me? the short answer to your question is really, the way i think about stokely carmichael and the way people should think about him is as stokely carmichael the organizer. the condition of the southern
particular that is most overlooked is the organizing tradition of the southern civil rights movement. digging in at the grassroots and organizing and mobilizing people to struggle for change. he left a presence, it is stokely carmichael the be mostr that needs to carefully considered and understood. in some ways, history has stokely poorly, completely defining him as this guy who, for no apparent reason, ," ated out "black power
message of hate that destroyed the redemptive movement of love and nonviolence that had defined black struggle. that is what stokely has been reduced to. i'm happy to be sitting here next to jeffries, who has written an important book on the county. in some ways, by looking at the county and carmichael's work there, you get the clearest picture of stokely. i worked with stokely for years and mississippi. -- in mississippi. i should talk for a minute about how stokely got to the county. , the mississippi freedom democratic party mounted to the so-called regular democratic mississippi.
i called them the white supremacist democrats of mississippi. that challenge was rejected by the democratic party national establishment and stokely had played a major role in helping that party get organized, as did all of us who worked in mississippi. reasons,for its own the mississippi freedom thisratic party decided bite the rejection of its challenge by the national democrats to nonetheless campaign for the democratic party presidential ticket. disagreed with that decision. organizer -- a lot vested, buta lot of the organizer kicks in -- a lot
of us did, but the organizer kicks in. mississippians had organized. it was not his job or his mission to beat up on this local organization because he disagreed with their choice. you cannot tell people in short that you have a right to make the decisions that affect your lives and then turn around and say because i disagree with you, i will not help you implement the decisions you've made. , stokely organizing goes to the county to begin building what he thinks is necessary. in alabama, what does stokely think is necessary? an independent black party is necessary.
he begins to organize that. what would become the black panther party. the first black panther party was created in alabama, not oakland, california. i'm making something more complex, perhaps over simple. organizeizer went to what he thought was important. whomo fight people with his choices disagreed with. movestruggle with how to from protest and being protesters to being organizers at the grassroots. life, ion of stokely's
would include africa in this, the lesson of stokely's life is a lesson of the organizer. if you want to pay attention to stokely carmichael, you have to pay attention to the choices he made as an organizer at the grassroots. that is the short version of my answer to your question. >> let me turn to jefferies. that leads into the next question. in your book, we see his leadership and vision and helping to develop the freedom organization. about thislked movement represented an evolution of carmichael's theology. can you talk about how it shapes his political life going forward? >> it is an excellent segue to ofk up on, this idea
remembering, understanding and studying stokely as an organizer. he was very much a master organizer. one of the great places or moments in his life through which to understand his understanding of organizing is what he does in alabama between 1966 -- 1965 and 1966. it is also a moment in which he notble to put into practice only his own individual thinking about organizing and politics and what the future direction of black political politics, black politics ought to be, but putting into practice the organizing philosophy of baker and applying it to electoral politics.
we do a great service to the memory -- this service to the memory and life of stokely carmichael when we look at him through the lens of the media caricature. disservice. a dashing, daring stokely carmichael before the evolution that'sissippi or before full of rage, full of anger that is the caricature. that is nowhere near the full complexity of the person. it does a complete disservice to him and what he had done for black people, for african people. to that momentk
in 1965 when he enters into the county, it is important to understand the reason why he went. this was coming out of --sissippi, coming out of mississippi is where he cut his teeth. he began to learn the process of organizing as a secretary, movement in the mississippi. let the people decide. if you are going to embrace the idea, let the people decide. you have to let them decide. you have to abide by that reason. he says, let me go to a place .here there is a clean slate practicecan put into what we think will work. this notion of building something independent of the democratic party.
we are talking about the formation of an independent political party. this is critically important. what we are seeing is a critique of what they offered, this critique of the condition of american politics. howas not just a matter of to get african-americans involved in the political process. party,the democratic american political system is broken. we don't simply want to replicate that. it is not enough just to move african-americans into the political system is the political system is inherently broken. how can we then create an apparatus that would allow african-americans to participate in the political process in a way that serves them democratically?
along with creating or being a part of building this independent political party, we see this effort to create a radically democratic political party. with a focus and emphasis not just on voter registration before and after the 1965 voting rights act, it's about political education. that is a quickly aspect that -- critical aspect that speaks lowndes county to the organizer and the team he was inking within lowndes count lowndes county. to inform andow educate so that they can make informed decisions about who might want to run for office. was taking seriously this notion that in a new political era being the post voting rights era, that the goal was not
ation, theck particip goal was black political empowerment. those are two fundamentally different things. to junefast-forward 1966 and the call for black power and this focus and arounds, media hysteria what black power means, part of the fear was that this is about slicing up a piece of pie that we thought we did not plan on sharing with you at all. that becomes problematic. if black power is defined as we moving to the democratic party to do with lbj once, there's no problem. black power is offering something different. stokely carmichael is quite
clear, you are not defining what black power means. it is what we did in lowndes county, alabama. creating an independent political party were african-americans have the majority. where black folk are not necessarily in a majority to enterogether so they can a coalition from positions of strength and their voice will not be lost. that is what he was talking about. we see it on the ground. the beauty of understanding stokely carmichael in this , as anlar moment organizer, as part of his political evolution, he is pragmatic come in a sense. in terms of what he is attempting to do. this is not just theory. he says, let's make this happen and we can make it happen, so let's do it. we have to separate what he was
actually able to do, focus on wasunderstand it, what he able to do from what others want to project onto him as what he was thinking about and what he may have meant and all these other things. when we separate the theoretical from the concrete or bring the two together, i think we get a fuller picture of stokely carmichael at this particular time. his experiences and like jeffrey afterwards. -- life trajectory afterwards. not embracing rhetoric for the sake of rhetoric. anger.was suddenly my that's fueled by anger. it was part of an experiential evolution. evolveould continue to
politically based upon the experiences that he would have even afterward. i ask this question because there was so much attention paid -- how does the selma demonstration of different when you look at it through the lens of stokely carmichael? >> it is important to locate selma on this continuum as it relates to activists. when stokely leaves mississippi, he does not go to lowndes county , alabama, he goes to selma. withists are partnering sclc activists. i enjoyed the movie selma. of don't get a full picture what activists were doing on the ground in selma. they go in and they are partnering and working together
but there is no ideological split. an -- there is an ideological split. what can we do to empower people on the ground versus trying to engage in just mobilizing -- organizing versus mobilizing. empowering people versus just rang to get them out to participate in marches and demonstrations, get them on the books temporarily. they were strategic differences. it is important to understand that these tactical differences wereemerged in selma activists were saying we don't need to march through montgomery. it is too dangerous. we've been marching long enough. is going tohat happen after bloody sunday, we will support it. and then organize in the wake of it when the march goes through
alabama, organizing in the wake of it, returning to lowndes county because it was a blank slate. not just from mississippi, but also from alabama. one of the things that distinguishes stokely carmichael is that they were willing to go to those places that other civil rights groups and organizations were unwilling to go. like mississippi. like lowndes county, alabama. made --where sclc had had backed out of. they said let's go there because we know the organizations will not go. we can do the things we want to do, we don't have to worry about mobilizing, we can focus on organizing and we conceive we can build toward a different kind of political future. buildcan see if we can
toward a different kind of political future. historyportant to the and we don't get a full picture of that in the movie "selma." if you do put it in its proper context, you see that it is important as a launching pad for coming into alabama and moving out of selma into lowndes county and the rest of the rural black belt. >> this is for ashley farmer. your research highlights the centrality of women in the black power movement. rolesu talk about what stokely carmichael played? aboutt of what we know stokely carmichael stems from after freedom summer at the wavelength conference. there are several papers product about the direction, the position on women. everybody is hanging out and stokely makes a joke.
oft has become the soundbite the sexism in the black power movement. move beyondhat we that moment and talk about stokely carmichael that does not begin with that moment. where did he grow up? what were his foundational influences? theimself is saying formative presence for me in the beginning for women was women in that continues to be true. i've been surrounded by women, educated and protected by them. come became an organizer also nurtured and taught by them. we do a disservice to stokely carmichael's legacy cannot talk -- to not talkr about ella baker. we do a disservice when we don't
talk about the women in lowndes county as well. i also want to emphasize, speak toimself, if you these women and set of soundbite out of context, he was one of the most responsive to the concerns of women. he continued to emphasize the revolutionary egos of women, the quality of women. ethos of women, the equality of women. less of whatt women were doing to combat that or how women might have shaped his thinking on that. i hope we will talk more about how to talk about his legacy is to talk about intellectual influence of women.
the influence of women organizers and to talk about how he was shaping how women thought on the ground as well. >> thank you. , your research investigates a transatlantic network of black revolutionaries across the 20th century. what do we learn when we consider stokely carmichael and black power in the transnational context? >> thank you. good afternoon, everybody. thank you all for coming out. cobb and honor brother other revolutionaries and freedom fighters in the audience who were on the ground organizing. i look forward to hearing your perspective when we open up the roundtable to further discussion. i want to thank professor jeffries.
i grew up on highway 80 in lowndes county. when i was coming up as a kid, i heard a lot about the black panther party, i heard a lot t them, but nothing too in depth. i had discussions as an undergraduate when i was trying to investigate black power. i was the one voice in the room who said it's not all about burn baby burn. one of your former colleagues, niki taylor, put your dissertation in my hands. remarkably important book. thank you so much for your work and for reframing our conversation about black power and self-determination. brother cobb, you started off by theng stokely carmichael hisnizer, to address
question on trans-nationalism and stokely carmichael, i would about stokely .armichael the socialist i was at the national civil rights museum. we were watching a compilation of his speeches. when of the own brothers asked us to say what stokely carmichael means to us. immigrant, anti-imperialist was not part of that discussion. part of the way we frame stokely carmichael is losing sight of quality to read --
-- more peopleat need to read it. the first two chapters is a meditation on the s4 and family. diaspora and family. we focus on the 14 years he spent in the united states. we know very little about the activities he spent devoting his for socialist africa. kwame ture's identity as a transnational migrant, in addition to the mainstream press representations of him as this
firebrand with anger, the media representation of him as a west pervasive. everyone from the new york times to a novelist like william attentionused their on these kind of outside agitators. these west indians who had come to co-opt the u.s. black freedom struggle in ways that echoed the xena phobic -- xena phobic attitudes towards marcus garvey. 1964 class of howard was the most international. the largest proportion of international students at the time. as we know from reading ready
wasrevolution, kwame ture designated as an international student. he lived in the international student's hall. socializing with and sharing ideas with black migrants from the diaspora. that was deeply influential on his politics and political outlook. this is in a retrospective, he says my vision for liberation was never about the united states alone. thated to pay credence to given that his family was not travel for his family to the bronx, these migrations were replenished, many people went back and forth from trinidad -- alfonso ribeiro's grandfather was lord
hummingbird. 's mother'se ture cousin. the idea of that family structure was informative to his outlook and freedom dream. when he talks about meeting , he describes listening herove tapes laughing at lampooning of british colonialists in south africa who can't speak in her native language. he is hearing england, but he is hearing trinidad. , hepersonal relationship
tries to form a different kind of family structure, a revolutionary type of family structure as this africa's first lady of freedom fighters, one that reproduces certain hetero patriarchal tropes of family hud, but is projected toward africa. when we get to the moment prone, we see the influence of trinidad come british colonialism and his rejection of it. he is transitioning from -- theing his father masculinity of his father that he rejects, but also rejects as patriarchal. he talks about the importance of his mother. his mother was the fighter. a different times, he has
fraught relationship with his father. --kenexa to other caribbean he next to other caribbean -- he -- acts to other caribbean blitz his mother as an example lists -- uplifts his mother as new example of a revolutionary. you've talked quite a bit about stokely carmichael, kwame ture as a political activist and thinker. was stokely carmichael and important political thinker and
how? i think one of the things that is missed about the is the factement that it was guided by thought and thinking. has beenern movement reduced to a series of events. fromt very little sense mainstream historiography of the thinking that really defined the movement. there was a lot of back and forth in the thinking. the international community on the black international community -- i had conversations with stokely about this, really fell into two categories.
one stokely complained about. they were in active politically. stokely accused them of trying who were toons afraid a big subject that deserves more research and more time. that was one category. students,category of the editor of the school newspaper really represented a thread to black struggle in the that is not paid a lot of attention to accept negatively. that is the nationalist thread that runs through the movement. , it is the black
international students who are politically active and articulate that most forcefully of all the categories of people. forget, we also had a number of african students at historically black colleges and universities. they are reflecting the various african revelation movements and that thinking and conversations that are taking place within the african liberation. i remember in mississippi, up in , it was called mississippi vocational college or mississippi valley state college. some africans and studying their, there was something unfolding in the town that was
negative. some violence against black people. we sitting around in our room talking about it. one of these african students asks -- i remember him, this question very clearly -- he says , what are the africans going to do about it? i'm saying to myself when i hear what do you mean, what are the africans going to do about it?there's two of you. meally come it occurred to when he said africans, he meant the black people. the black people in this town. a kind of thinking that begins to affect our thinking. this comes from that smaller group of black people from the caribbean and from the african politicallyo are active. i spent a little time with with
this becausewith to ask what kind of thinking defined black .truggle in the south this is ella baker and her thinking. these are these local and acp leaders and their thinking -- naacp leaders and their thinking. africa and from the caribbean who play an important role in thinking around black nationalism, that threat -- there is a black nationalist thread. more than 1960's students on howard's campus.
it goes back much earlier than that. , what istant question the thinking, what do we need to understand about the thinking? people did not wake up one morning and decide to have a protest march or incident -- or any sit in. there's a lot of thinking that we need to understand. useful to the struggle today. ,> i would simply add to that this is part of a larger problem. we don't take kwame ture seriously as a political thinker. even when we want to talk about the movement, mainstream articulation of black power, what we do is reduce black power to emotionalism. how do we explain the call for black power?
stokely carmichael, they were angry and upset. after the defeat in atlantic city, everyone was upset. so, they were just lingering around and finally, that anger boiled over into black power. there is no thinking there. it is emotionalism. that is symptomatically larger problem. we don't take black people seriously as political thinkers. we are not taking southern activists, grassroot activists seriously as political thinkers. that they were capable of serving the land, making sense , making sensees of the nature of the oppression they were facing and trying to figure out with aid and
and weight as possible solutions and chart a path forward. weigh those possible solutions. the danger of not doing that, the danger of looking at stokely carmichael not as a seriously political thinker but as someone driven by emotion is that you if dismiss what he is saying it is solely a product of emotionalism and anger and frustration that you don't have to take seriously the critique that he is offering. you can dismiss the critique, but you also are allowed to dismiss the people who are embracing what he is saying. person, youd the
can dismiss what the person is saying, but you can also dismissed the people who feel, who are agreeing with what the person is saying. now, you've got no black folk left. only those who may be agreeing in this particular instance with a left liberal approach to change. we have to take him seriously. that also means taking more seriously the people he is working with and the organizations they were working inside of. the men were not the only ones thinking, either. on both sides of the atlantic thinking we will make this world a new, what will it look like and how do i fit into it? how do i fit into it as a woman? does this ideology makes sense for me? when we are constructing this new idea, what does that mean?
there are women on both sides of and african freedom fighters going through these intense debates about how we understand pan africanism and a that understands and implements the quality. -- equality. when you look at his speeches, you see him try to grapple with and engage that to try to understand the world in which we have a holistic understanding of freedom. another thing i would like to his we have to look at evolution, the evolution of his politics as a process. black power, even to its most people who made
it a household phrase, it means different things to him at different times. , not just taking him seriously as a political theorist, but as a student who is constantly questioning and revising his assumptions. in different geological contexts. , it can meanunty participatory democracy, putting shares into office. we are also talking about united socialist state of africa. there are contradictions that reveal themselves when he goes to guyana and he is speaking to africans and south asians come activists carrying the banner of black power and he says this is not for asians. which does not fit into the kind of political model, mobilizing that is happening in trinidad. you cannot go home again in that situation.
why the mainstream dust not take kwame ture seriously is because we are still living in a cold war climate. the economy, our political system is still being stunted by the impossibility of taking seriously a black socialist revolutionary. the impossibility of the cleansing of anti-imperialism politics. king whomember of the calls the united states the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. beingnot the king memorialized. why is that something we shun from? to say this as someone hunted by the state, who was threatened by
deportation. the tennessee state legislature is investigating ways to deport him when he speaks at vanderbilt. fbi will murder you might just like they -- he is an of u.s.d vocal critic imperialist violence against the third world. >> at this point, we would like to open the discussion to our audience members. there is a microphone in the aisle. please feel free to come up and ask a question. i can also bring you a microphone. please just raise your hand. thank you. please.
>> good afternoon, everybody. my question is for mr. cobb. fromdy stokely carmichael looking at him and his preparation and activism in high school before he came to the howard campus. can you give me some insight on before you came to howard, maybe preparation or some type of consciousness that caused you to become aware of the movement and become a participant in the movement before college? >> i don't want to spend a lot of time on me. to one point of commonality, if you will, between my pre-howard university
experience and stokely's pre-howard university experience. there's some real differences between our experiences. in new is growing up york city. with all of that black political dynamic that exist in harlem and he is interacting with it. i'm growing up in springfield, massachusetts. ,here there is not much certainly no comparable black political dynamic in my high school years as in stokely's. the commonality is the siddons -- sit ins. both of us were in high school,
in the 12th grade. in new york and massachusetts via television and newspapers. reaction upont insing about the sit was that they don't have ideological coherency. they are spontaneous action that inevitably will be short-term. that's what he told me his first reaction was. as he continued to watch the television and in newspapers, he became converted. immediately upon coming to howard, he began to associate himself with the nonviolent action group which had been
formed shortly after the sit ins erupted. my own experience in this respect is somewhat similar. black in 1960 when the sit ins erected and were -- heng to go to college rubbed it and were planning to go to college, you would be going to a historically black college or university. corruptthe sit ins you rap rupted. you were going to be going to school in the south. you are in the 12th grade seeing the city and -- the sit ins. those are people your own age. do when you going to
you get confronted with segregation? will you be like these students you are watching on television? that is happening to both stokely and myself as 12 graders in different places. that experience in high school both of usus -- led upon arriving on campus into the nonviolent action group, the sit in movement and led to stokely becoming a freedom rider. he would go to mississippi every summer and work on motor registration efforts unfolding in the state. registration efforts unfolding in the state. experienceh school has very much to do with the changing dynamic among black young people in the united
states, specifically with respect to the sit in movement month the emergence of black young people into leadership roles for the first time in the civil rights movement. , civil rights ins leadership was grown up leadership. called the sit in movement and apprenticeship in struggle. he is about right. no matter where you come out five years later -- stokely eventually moves to africa and embraces pan african socialism. other people embrace the democratic party. other people embrace other things. no matter where you come out at the end of this, without eruption ofis protests is an apprenticeship in struggle. part ofy that became a
the newly expanded core had more or less that experience. before going to college or while in college. >> thank you very much for your presentation. i'm working with a lot of information. this question is pretty much for anybody on the panel. the response to the reimagining of black power leaders, we saw it with the reimagining of malcolm x.. the search to reinterpret what is black power, is there -- how many say this -- individuals believe there is a finality of black political progress with obama becoming president. would stokely carmichael view the obama era in context
with the conditions of the black community? one, you have to identify which stokely carmichael. ?t what point in time if you pose that question to kwame ture and stokely carmichael, you would get different answers. there would be some consistency. that would be reflecting his own political evolution. ofyou asked him coming out the midnight and 60's, working intowndes county, going that election, he was a there is nothing inherently revolutionary about electing barack obama or an african-american to the presidency if the process does not change.
if the decision-making is still top-down and not bottom-up. people on the ground are empowered and mobilized and organized to keep the person in the position of power whether it house statehouse or white . he doesn't make much of a difference to the everyday lives of the folks. i'm trying to channel my inner 1965 stokely. that is what he would say at that moment. if you ask chris come i would imagine, thinking from an , ifrnationalist perspective you don't change the fundamental economic structures of american capitalism, it will not make a difference at all. i will let chris answer.
you said it way better than i could. he did address that in his own time. having black mayors. , itng up in lowndes county is still one of the poorest places in the united states. the funds that were directed toward anti-poverty programs in lowndes county were directed towards the vietnam war. without dealing with poverty -- we have a black sheriff and black judge. people are still living and dying in poverty. study -- we can make similar case studies about on a national scale with obama. >> i want to add something. once what it was
that caused him to leave the black panther party. his response was, i got tired of dodging fbi bulletin the party. -- bullets in the party. why he moved to africa. you may or may not know that some people disagree with that and others did not. one of the things he learned in his association with the panther snic,as well as with the kind of power the u.s. government was prepared to exercise in terms of crushing the revolutionary black movement in the united states required a source of power that he felt
could only be found in africa. through the organization of pan african socialism. i don't want to characterize this expression as an expression of despair or hopelessness. it was more his realistic donesment of what could be within the borders of the united states if you are talking about organizing black power. i won't go on and on -- these are pieces of conversations we had over the years. it is one thing to elect somebody to share or mayor or governor -- sheriff or mayor or governor or president who is black. the real question is a question of accountability. to holdou organize
these people accountable to your interests? quite frankly, he did not feel much responsible in the united states that you needed a certain kind of muscle, black power. that he concluded meant you had to build in africa. >> thank you. >> hi, i'm a teacher of african-american history. i have a opportunity to have some questions about malcolm x and his youth. . i have also been to detroit. for a long time there were study groups. i think a brother here mentioned
about probably not being taken seriously as a anger. my question is, had you consider looking at or maybe doing some research on the study group out of this organization, that he submitted regularly papers on topics and they would discuss them. brown had some of that. that may be a bust of information in terms of [indiscernible] and maybe collecting some of those documents. when he submitted persistent papers, trying to clarify key issue so members of his study those enteredudy around what they felt were --
and turn around what they felt were appropriate. would you consider doing some of that that he and bob brown had formed? which had a lot of information about him as well. >> i think that is a great idea. i think this also speaks to how we understand gender politics in i think oneamework of the things we tend to do, particularly with black power and these guys put up as messiahs of the movement is the speeches are the sole way in which we understand and express. that is not always available in the formats we wanted to be and it is not always the way people express politics. narrow a centric
understanding of what intellectualism is the it i think that is a great idea to think about the collaborative work in addition to the papers. it also may be a new avenue in thinking about or expanding our understanding of him. >> this is the value of oral history. understanding of what intellectualism is the it i think that is a great idea to think about the collaborative work in addition to the papers. inas in a meeting with him brooklyn. that meeting lasted about 14 hours. east. we went through the documents that have an prepared. he was doing very well. down. settled
history is a tool where you use some of the stuff in depth. it is difficult to verify. if you get several counts of the same you may be able to verify persons of recollection. i do remember them very well. rick gave veryn, good critiques of certain things and contributed to the innovation. -- thankl interviews you very much. brown has told me that he has a collection of documents closely guarded. it has been a work on a study for some time, so i am a girly
awaiting that. were having discussions with the government of guinea about having those papers in guinea, west africa. >> good afternoon afternoon, i am the bronx president. his path and mine sort of met. i taught at the high school he went to many years after he had left that school. the faculty advisor. we had since renamed it in his honor. i also come after him in terms
of having read his book, "black power," and becoming a radical in the 60's, and so forth. want to say that high school is a specialized high school. examination ton get into this high school. some of the best minds in the country come out of this school. i'm sure that the conditions they are created who he was. it was not conducive to people of color, even at the point when i started working there in 1993. they had to protect themselves and they probably started the black organization for student strength, i have no idea, but i want to let you know there is a thread that runs through his life, mind, and
those children that are there. >> stokely told me once that he classmate who was white, as most of the students who were there were. this particular student had a harlem address, and that is what he can his curiosity. and when the student invites him to his house, he goes because this white student is living in harlem. it turns out this student's father was one of the leaders of the new york communist party. ,tokely begins to engage them and he is in high school. his problem was that they wrote off a race in favor of class.
stokely, even by no means he was not, it didnd what not feel right in his gut. made hisirst time he way to the people speaking on the step ladders on harlem street corners and he hears black nationalists. to resonate more favorably in his gut, and that leads him to volunteering during the 1957 -- they had that march. there was some march. but it is interesting how things canalmost accidental and
lead you into political engagement in the least expected place. >> there have been a couple of comments about his high school years and childhood and that's one of thing. -- that sort of thing. the folks who is meeting in high school. activism he was doing, to assume we footnote the , as if that childhood ,ad no bearing on his outlook so often i see in the study that there is a footnote to his he -- or thatthat folks get it wrong.
those folks have politics. whether he is in a classroom or not deeply impacts the kind of activities and the world they imagine going forward. >> hello. ellis.mberly my questions are for ashley and hassan. i was curious as to what you thought the political trajectory and best practices and lessons stokely carmichael can offer for the black lives matter movement. you have the hash tagged and capturedlogy that has the nation and the world's imagination, and then you have an actual organization with 26 chapters that are local and black, primarily led by women and people not centered in
leadership. i want to hear from you what you thought stokely carmichael might offer. you can pick which one. but the other aspect is, i started black politics matter as a ideological civic type project to supplement what i saw was missing from a number of different movements. we are opposed the occupy movement, so we openly talk about capitalism and the 99% and income disparity. we have the idea of democratic especially on the lips of bernie sanders running. i'm curious how you see today's ideological struggle that i see, with black lives matter in particular. whereis this major issue
we say we don't want to participate, we don't want to support a racist, sexist, capitalistic system. it is not going to bring forth the fruits that we want and you have displayed that clearly. also we need black political power, and it doesn't have to be electoral. there was at, when movement for black lives in cleveland, there were sessions on local black politics that were so powerful, but there was no voter registration, no escutcheon around judges being elected, being on juries and things like that. that ideological struggle exists in the overall black lives matter movement. thank you. , i think that it is just
remembering or reviving the tradition of stokely as someone who thinks the community believes best, and that is not a gender specific thing. i see a similar issue with black lives matter, where it is and these women being the leaders, but often people say it is a leaderless movement, and what you mean is there is not a black and in front of it -- black man in front of it. to think about his politics beyond that moment and think about how he centered women and use women as these teachers, and how he follows them, because he found them to be the most knowledgeable about a particular area, they are staying -- they are saying in these particular moments -- we are the best people to mobilize around it. i think remembering him as some of you that would do that in the tradition of this idea of black
power would be an important way to think about it. that is the more political part of it. i think stokely would find that black lives matter or the dreamtreat of -- morally defenders that are driven by think that hey, i would find this activism resonates with his own history. i think that the question that he would pose, it is a question we had to wrestle with. is what is the actual organizing mission you are going to take on. how are you going to dig into these inner-city communities in particular? with thee would agree
notion that i have, you are faced with something more complicated than what we are faced with 50 years ago in terms of organized black struggle. that is a whole other solid panel. i think mainly his concern would be setting aside his own ideological proclivities. he would raise with black lives question, organizing how are you going to dig in and engage in grassroots community organizing? i should say he dragged me into the 21st century last week by signing up that by signing me up for twitter.
they said that was the really way i could keep up in any meaningful way with the flow of conversation among young people. thatwould just add briefly if he entered into today's world of black lives matter organizing and sort of looked around the virtual room he would say this doesn't look too much different than it did 50 years ago and find himself to be very comfortable, surrounded by women and decision-making on the ground organizing. if he looks around the room and it was all young brothers, then he would say this is a change, this is different. and knowing that he would be comfortable in that situation, in that environment, knowing that he would then be able to
share organizing ideas and tactics, going back to what the ,op had said at the beginning then the discussion that he is i be offering understand social media is a tool for organizing and use it as such. i think he would be very comfortable in that environment. he would have a lot to offer and i think he would seek a lot of himself in the work that young people were doing. is part of the danger of getting caught in this stereotype. --s a great disturbance great disservice at a shame it was taken out of context. i was just at the congressional black caucus convention.
frozennowhere summit a -- someone throws in stokely .armichael and tradition what is happening there? is a shame because you missed the fullness that he had to offer. you are setting up for young people organizing today to say if that is his take on things, then he has nothing to offer us when he had so much to offer us based on his life experiences. this -- i don't think he and them women that i study would say that he does. that leads people to silence more today and when we tried to re-create or revive some of those symbols as well.
>> it is important to remember that when he was a student at , one of his celebrated organizational efforts was in defense of a young meaty -- young lady who was selected as the homecoming queen and was the first person selected of a dark queue and with an afro. an afro which the matrons of the dorm considered grounds of -- considered grounds for excluding her from the dormitory. it was only pat harris who came to her rescue. his history on the sexist question goes deep. and the movement that charlie referred to, women were co-equals in very -- in every respect. we had an interesting meeting last week.
i decided i would not go to the , ick caucasians this time would go to this meeting called voting rights 2015. that was designed to be an intergenerational exchange between the people of yesterday and the people of tomorrow. it was black power meeting with black lives matter. and it was an interesting exchange. and one of the things we clashed letter iimulated by a was written in june of 1961 when she was counseling us on the principles of organization. the new people,
the new people were talking about how successful they were organizing -- they were in organizing twitter and other electronic media. pointedly is this communication and explosion or is it a combustion? is it spectacle and getting connectivity in being able to do a wave phenomenon of having people come out for a demonstration, and then nothing happens afterward? if they even select people to become the new mayor and city council of ferguson and nothing changes, what have they the one thing that the people were somewhat concerned about is they didn't seem to have an articulable
strategy for where it would take them. we were fortunate for having whoseenerational input roots went back to the porters organization of the ywca -- ywca and ymca as predecessors to our movement. and she grafted onto us some of the wisdom and mistakes they had made. vehicle to graft onto the next generation some of the wisdom and mistakes we made. is one of the devices for passing on that wisdom. i hope if you have contact with the new people that you will call that book to their attention. >> thank you so much for offering those in sites.
example, that story you give about the homecoming also reveal something about the limits to black lives matter. black men aren't standing up for that youthe way describe carmichael standing up for that homecoming queen. black women in any city in the united states are organizing on behalf of the black men and in response to the distraction of blackmail bodies by the state. there is that contradiction, where as we've seen before the women are always organizing and leading and theorizing at the grassroots. lotd these conversations a
about blackmail feminists assert themselves as allies. very little of it comes down to a lot of folks have made this critique. brittney cooper has made this critique about black lives matter, that contradiction between the leadership and the kind of failures of black men to be allies and to be feminists. 100%, iree with you havingope to have elders roundtables like this one. in landmark text for my political development, and so thank you for those insights. i think a critique of twitter
and facebook as far state surveillance goes and who is profiting from those tweets. you are talking about a white supremacist silicon valley industry generating revenue for companies that don't hire black people. >> i want to speak up for the young people and twitter and all of this, even though i don't understand it. find, i'm part of a project called the legacy project, and i find my experience that young activists, moral minorities -- moral majorities, dream defenders, etc. who are engaged in activism all over the country reach out wanting to understand our experience and find in our experience from half a century ago things they might use today.
that has been my experience with young activists. that is why i was put on twitter last week at the conference you referred to. secondly, whether it is twitter or bell telephone 50 years ago or the telegraph can it 50 years ago the doesn't concern me about whether or not the means you use is effective and enabling communications. impressed by the speed. he will ask you one of the founders of the dream defenders ad a young guy who was in
wheelchair because he had been shot five times by the pittsburgh police and was paralyzed. instagram them met on because leon's story had flooded and whensocial media he dream defenders saw it wanted to meet this young guy from pittsburgh and they began a dialogue about possibilities of common struggle. i would say about the young movements today is they are young and not only an age, but those that participate in them. you know they are young as movement. know a little too early to
how they will transit from protests, which is what they are largely engaged in to organizing down on the ground. i think tackling the idea of grassroots in inner cities today, chicago, detroit, baltimore, pittsburgh, los is not simply different than what we were doing in the mississippi delta or southwest georgia, but i think it is more complex and difficult. >> i am daniel brown, city mayor councilman and dish city councilman and former -- city councilman and former mayor of tennessee.
stokely carmichael is probably one of the most famous graduates of howard. of there been any kind formal recognition of -- or has his life been too controversial for those who would make that kind of decision? has there been anything in his honor? >> no is the answer to your question. i did here with some discussion -- maybe timothy will know more about this than me. i live in jacksonville florida. was somehere discussion about doing something to memorialize or commemorate stokely's presence on the howard campus. stands,know where that but at this point nothing on
that campus has been done to honor stokely. have no idea about a kinney in west africa. effort to have a commemorative program for the freedom rides, and stokely was prominent in that planned event unfortunately hank thomas, who was the principal funder and financier and promoter of for ill, and that has been put off until he either recovers or we find some alternative source of funding. peoplel african republic in washington to have an annual event that they call the stokely growing ind that is its importance in many communities around the country,
but howard has not done anything to step up to the plate to commemorate one of his greatest sons. >> hello i'm a graduate student of african-american studies. i would first of all like to thank you. it is pretty amazing to put faces and voices and people whose books i have been reading for years in grad school. my question is about the intiple stokely carmichael's relationship to palestine israel conflict. i guess he still works in my carmichael talks extensively about what it meant ,or civil rights, black power
newsletters, taking a very aggressive stand to the movement and i remember reading that his first him a stray should was in support of israel, his first rally in new york city. i guess i would like to address the most pull dust address the multiple stokely carmichael's -- address the multiple stokely carmichael's. >> stokely was like the rest of us. timeolves politically over . i can't speak to stokely and pro-israel rallies when he was in high school and new york. about the palestine issue.
the question of palestinian homelessness not surprisingly sncc.ted inside he thought the palestinians had been treated cruelly and unfairly. that longhe basis of piece that appeared in the newsletter, the student voice, basically laying out what we thought as what all that was about. i would argue in so far as the , we were reading revolution,gerian and that was influencing our
thinking. in a time when piece on palestine came out we had come a ing way from where we were 1961. if you are young and black in the middle 1960's and looking for new ideas, because by then you would come to conclusions that some of the ideas that you started out with weren't working , then you would latch early look overseas, and you would more specifically look at africa, where black struggle was unfolding, where black nations were being bored and out you area, quiet as it is kept as part of africa. and we were reading about the algerian struggle. and we were reading a lot of the that pieces of material
revolved around the algerian struggle. one that had been victorious. so it was a place to look at that had been successful. i think an answer to your question is just that people people pull on lots of things to develop their thinking and behavior. is happening with the 19-year-old charlie cobb who shows up in 1962, not the same guy in 1966. i think that is true for everybody. stokely included. it is not unique to stokely. it is happening to all of us.
when i say all of us i don't simply mean the young people, you haven't a lot of black young people in this country. where they were at one point is not where they wind up. talk about this that -- the 1970's. sncc did something there never would have done in 1966. --was a socialist at assad socialist and a homosexual, and that if he didn't this invite him there would be a price to pay. that is 1960.
it never would have happened in this is the man who really >> i wantt lack power , he hatedpoint zionism with all his heart, his organization was a brother and heorganization worked against zionism because they were part of the south african apartheid government, and they continue to steal all that and what have you and this organization was a brother organization and he built a worldwide anti-zionist movement and he stood with that with all his heart and all his might.
is going on with the palestinians is genocide and colonialism and we support the that weians, but in all support the arab revolution and husseinossain -- saddam and the socialist party in syria, so he is definitely anti-zionist, anti-imperialist person, and that needs to be made clear. the reactionaries who try to undermine black power and undermine the revolution, that is coming from the reactionaries, they continue to raise that statement. a worldwide women's organization, all african women's revolutionary union and it is a brother and sister
organization to every revolutionary women's organization in the world, they including the, african congress and what have you. and we have to make that very clear. pro-africa, he believed in africanism, he believed america is a criminal nation that has no correction in the system and the only way to is revolution.em he believe the problem can only be solved with the united states of africa, and he believed africa is for the africans, and that is our land and all the foreigners should be driven off of it. neocolonialism and neocolonialism is all these african faces that have connections and work with
, and we definitely have to raise war against them, and obama is nothing but a , noet of imperialism different than mobutu in south africa. he love zimbabwe with all his heart and might and he loved all the socialist and working-class people throughout the world, and that is what he is fighting for, and we definitely see the united states is definitely not trying to solve no problem. our african people inside those parties, she ods made clear they have absolutely no power.
he didn't see that working and voting and all that kind of mess as no solution to our problem whatsoever. i would like to say i hung out with him a whole lot. for years. i don't speak for him, can't speak for him, but he was fighting toward socialism, toward communism, towards liberating the youth in africa under all african scientific government. he's one of the most loved africans in the world in terms of revolution. fighting for world socialism, died fighting for the united states of africa, and he died to put all our women, revolutionary women, he made it unless- made it clear the women play an equal or greater role in that.
>> thank you for contextualizing that for us. i could lose my job for criticizing israel. my boss is right here. stephen, iteen with is still impossible to critique israel. when we talk about how he has been discredited, how his political ideas have been marginalized, we are still operating with the impossibility of critiquing zionism. we ignore that at our peril. have palestinian activists who are educating folks on the ground who have been hit by the same teargas canisters.
apd kathleening l of the firstin one communiques of revolutionary people communicate that sure that communication network she was speaking to that speaking as the idea of solidarity, that we feel some kind of emotion or some sort of comparative thing. shoes speaking specifically about south african apartheid and attacking any kind of installations with south african interests. we ignore at our peril that --tinational private prisons we ignore that they are not using -- that the same people who are arming the police in ferguson and l.a. are arming israel. these are compatible. these are compatible issues. that is all i'm going to say. >> we have time for one last question.
wonderfully rich conversation, thank you for it. i was wondering to what extent he would think you might say africanism andto his investment in the african nation state, and particularly in kidney and ghana and the leaders, they are somewhat blunted his critique of power and state power. did he go from a commitment to a grassroots populist model of revolution? top-down framework that may have to some extent
blunted not only his critique of power but his notion of the possibilities for true liberation and still -- true liberation in postcolonial africa in particular? >> verizon doubtlessly undoubtedly more than one answer to this. this is one of the things we argued about. precisely that question in terms and toembrace in guinea a lesser extent after his ouster. stokely had a specific view what was needed in relationship to africa. precise scientific
socialism leading to a united states of africa. there were other people who are thatring pan africanism didn't come out in that place there was a tremendous interest in africa. veteranse a group of in a country stokely didn't particularly care for and other parts. there is a larger discussion of africa, certainly in the late 1960's and the early 1970's through the middle 1970's among civil right movement veterans. if you're young and black and looking for ideas, africa was a natural place to be interested in. there were all kinds of conversations with africa
liberation movement. i remember one friend was in tanzania and he wanted to meet liberation movements in the early 1970's headquartered, and . took him by the mpl a office the thing that stopped him in his tracks was the receptionist was white. he couldn't get his head wrapped in thethe idea of being office of an african liberation movement. that thishis loop blonde lady who was portuguese, who was the receptionist. -- here was this blonde lady who was portuguese, who was the
receptionist. we had different understandings of it, what you could do with it, buy it was important. manus --presented one one manifestation of that. one of the things we argued embracingi felt that -- we have haded this discussion. i worried things lead was embracing tyranny , as there was that danger. that was my experience in africa. -- he had quite a
different view and deserves another panel and a nether conference -- and another conference. quantity had his view of what pan africanism was. there was his view of what it represented. the good thing about this diversity of views is that people could argue about it. and not shoot each other over it. >> thank you to all the audience members for participating and thank you for and -- for participating and please join me our panelists. it was a thought-provoking panel.
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