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Black Power

1966 was, in all respects, a crucial turning point for the black movement in America. In that year the Black Panther party was founded in Oakland, California, and Stokely Carmichael coined the slogan of ‘Black Power’.

The failure of the US anti-poverty programme and the struggle in the black community over control of funds precipitated a crisis – a crisis in which the moderate spokesmen of the black bourgeoisie found their support dwindling as they were challenged by a new generation of militant black leaders.

blackpowerThe emphasis now was not on integration but on separatism: on black people controlling their own programmes, running their own education in a way which reflected the black experience and black aspirations.

It became hard to see why black people had ever wanted integration at all.

At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico, John Carlos, Lee Evans and Tommie Smith wore long black socks as a symbol of their solidarity with the Black Power movement.


After the 200 metre race, Smith and Carlos each raised a black-gloved hand in a Black Power salute.

The athletes had been particularly annoyed by Avery Brundage (President of the IOC) saying that he favoured South Africa’s inclusion in the games.