Kwame Ture – Black Power Speech (1966)

Soon after he was named chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Stokely Carmichael began to tout the slogan and philosophy of Black Power.  In the speech below he explains  Black Power to an audience at the University of California, Berkeley. [Source: (1966) Stokely Carmichael, “Black Power”]


“When the missionaries came to civilize us because we were uncivilized, to educate us because we were uneducated, and to give us some literate studies because we were illiterate, they charged a price. The missionaries came with the Bible, and we had the land: When they left, they had the land, and we still have the Bible. That’s been the rationalization for Western civilization as it moves across the world–stealing, plundering, and raping everybody in its path. Their one rationalization is that the rest of the world is uncivilized and they are in fact civilized.


But the West is un-civ-i-lized. And that still runs on today, you see, because now we have “modern-day missionaries,” and they come into our ghettos–they Head Start, Upward Lift, Bootstrap, and Upward Bound us into white society. They don’t want to face the real problem. A man is poor for one reason and one reason only–he does not have money. If you want to get rid of poverty, you give people money. And you ought not tell me about people who don’t work, and that you can’t give people money if they don’t work, because if that were true, you’d have to start stopping Rockefeller, Kennedy, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, the whole of Standard Oil, the Gulf Corporation, all of them, including probably a large number of the board of trustees of this university. The question, then, is not whether or not one can work; it’s Who has power to make his or her acts legitimate? That is all. In his country that power is invested in the hands of white people, and it makes their acts legitimate.”