Walking has always been used as a tool for social change. In early June of 1966 James Meredith, who had become the first Black man to attend the University of Mississippi, set out to walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, a distance of more than 200 miles, to promote Black voter registration and protest ongoing discrimination in the south. But James Meredith would never reach his destination.
On the second day of his journey, a white man tracked him down on a dirt road in Mississippi and shot him several times.
What that white terrorist didn’t know is that you can try and kill the revolutionary, but you can not kill the revolution.
Not only would James Meredith’s March Against Fear continue without him, but it would enrage and embolden a young, brilliant activist by the name of Stokely Carmichael, who after being arrested following the march, left the jailhouse and let out what would become an iconic cry for BLACK POWER.
Stokely Carmichael saw the writing on the wall. A young, brilliant organizer, who had worked closely alongside Dr. King and who was leading the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) shifted his focus from appealing to the moral center of a country that he said demonstrated it had “no conscious” to a radical liberation agenda for Black people. And we’re talking an agenda so radical that even the Black Panthers eventually couldn’t hang.
Stokely Carmichael was the living, breathing example of speaking truth to power. He was an organizer who was involved in almost every major demonstration and event that occurred in the US in the early ’60s. His legacy can be seen today in the faces of marchers who chant with fire in their bellies “defund the police,” and across the diaspora in the movement for Pan-Africanism.
This man, who would eventually be reborn as Kwame Toure, and who Rosa Parks once said could, ”stroll through Dixie in broad daylight using the Confederate flag for a handkerchief,” PUT ON for his people.
And for this sacrifice, we celebrate this freedom fighter with a major Black Power salute and a conversation that will breakdown his illustrious life.
Join the second edition of GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp at blackhistorybootcamp.com to receive specially curated emails with inspiring words, survival tips, speeches + dedicated songs to listen to for each episode. Together we will discover the stories and explore the pivotal moments from some of the most powerful movements in Black history.
Disclaimer: We do not own the rights to the music or speech excerpt played during this broadcast. Original content can be found here:
Brand Nubian – Wake Up (Reprise in the Sunrise):
What’s in a Name? ft. Kwame Ture (1989):