Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

When Stokely Carmichael became the new chairman of SNCC, a concerned and suspicious government began to monitor the SNCC very closely, including looking into Carmichael's draft status.  The number of black voters in Lowndes County, AL, increased from 70 to 2,600, more than 37 times its earlier count.  This also gave black voters a 300-vote lead over white voters.  Only weeks following Carmichael's election, James Meredith undertook a "March Against Fear" alone and was shot by a sniper.  In response, Carmichael joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers and others to continue Meredith's march.

He was arrested during the march at Greenwood, Mississippi.  Of course, by this time, being arrested for his protests was nothing new to Carmichael; this was his twenty-seventh incarceration.  On 16 June 1966, Stokely Carmichael was released from prison.  It was at this time that he gave his famous "Black Power" speech, a concept that, while not new, would ring long and clear from this point forward.

He urged "black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, and to build a sense of community."