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Black Power: The Politics of Liberation

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In 1967, this revolutionary work exposed the depths of systemic racism in this country and provided a radical political framework for reform: true and lasting social change would only be accomplished through unity among African-Americans and their independence from the preexisting order. An eloquent document of the civil rights movement that remains a work of profound social relevance 25 years after it was first published.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1967

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About the author

Stokely Carmichael

9 books163 followers
Stokely Standiford Churchill Carmichael, also known as Kwame Ture, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced "Snick") and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party. Initially an integrationist, Carmichael later became affiliated with black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 63 reviews
Profile Image for Shila.
233 reviews32 followers
September 27, 2020
So you want to protest? Read this. I appreciate the dissection of a problem in a world where cognitive dissonance exists. The identification of the problem will encourage us to enact solutions. For the person who might complain that this book only identifies a problem, they should go back in time. It was published in 1967. The problem needed to be identified... over and over so that the oppressed could see what they were up against. That is war tactic. Clearly, many still do not comprehend this and will make moves before fully and wholly knowing what they’re up against and knowing how. That is weak. There are carefully devised distractions that make people forget that the problem even exists!!! We are complaining about the identification of it?!! Well, if that is your thinking, you are standing still. We need to read and re-read and rediscover until we are moved into action. If you have a problem with the the words that identify the problem, what are you going to do? Show us, lead the way.
Profile Image for Erik Graff.
4,983 reviews1,083 followers
November 10, 2020
When visiting old friends, I go through their libraries in search of books I read as a kid. I found 'Black Power' in a high school friend's collection while visiting him in Springfield, Vermont.

I'd been brought up in a pronouncedly anti-racist home. Mom and Dad were both democratic socialists who usually voted for liberal Democrats though Dad was proud of having voted for Norman Thomas in '48 and for having had a father who had been a comrade and journalist colleague of Carl Sandburg in the Socialist Party of America. Our family was spread out over Norway, Canada and the United States; Dad had served in North Africa and the Pacific, so nationalism wasn't in the cards. If anything, I felt that there was a prejudice in our family for Jewish intellectuals. In any case, by the junior year of high school I thought that Dad would like it if I went to the University of Chicago, became a civil rights and liberties attorney and married a Jewish intellectual. When I joined the Young Peoples' Socialist League, the War Resisters' League and the Students for a Democratic Society as a teenager, this wasn't rebellion against parental values but an expression of their idealism. They worried about me getting hurt at demonstrations, but I felt they were proud that I was politically active. Indeed, when I got suspended and expelled from Maine Twp. H.S. South for political acts, Dad was actively supportive of me against the school's right-wing administration.

One of the most challenging aspects of leftist politics in the sixties was black separatism. M.L. King was a hero for my elders but the SNCC and the Black Panthers spoke more for my generation. Indeed, in high school I became friendly with a bunch of Panthers who would regularly come to our suburb to hang out at the town bookstore after it was closed down for the day by its manager, himself a white radical who had, as I recall, worked for the Grove Press. They were middle class like me, no more than a decade older and definitely had my ear when we discussed racial and third world issues. Although I was most comfortable with the idea of full integration, of a color-blind society, their arguments for black power led me to go out of my way to read public exponents of the strategy such as Stokely Carmichael with as much of an open mind as I could manage.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 5 books172 followers
December 2, 2013
I loved this, I think it should be taught as part of U.S. history wherever such a grim subject is taught (though with some more women talking alongside, my main critique).

From the preface
This book is about why, where and in what manner black people in America must get themselves together. It is about black people taking care of business -- the business of and for black people. The stakes are really very simple: if we fail to do this, we face continued subjection to a white society that has no intention of giving up willingly or easily its position of priority and authority. If we succeed, we will exercise control over our lives, politically, economically and psychically. We will also contribute to the development of a viable larger society; in terms of ultimate social benefit, there is nothing unilateral about the movement to free black people (11)

They write 'we offer no pat formulas in this book for ending racism...our aim is to offer a framework...to ask the right questions, to encourage a new consciousness and to suggest new forms which express it' (11-12). It’s always about asking the right questions, isn’t it? They situate themselves within a black tradition that has understood protest as the only way to obtain change, quoting Douglass:
Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. ... Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blow, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress'
--Frederick Douglass, West India Emancipation Speech, August 1957

They also situated themselves internationally as part of the third world, their struggle connected to other liberation struggles.

After Douglass I don’t think you need much more to demolish the various white ineterpretations of white supremacy and the existence of racism, but I suppose it needed some spelling out. In response to Gunnar Myrdal's book The American Dilemma Ture and Hamilton quote Silberman's Crisis in Black and White
The tragedy of race relations in the United States is that there is no American Dilemma. White Americans are not torn and tortured by the conflict between their devotion to the American creed and their actual behavior. They are upset by the current state of race relations, to be sure. But what troubles them is not that justice is being denied but that their peace is being shattered and their business interrupted. (21)

Describing the actual situation of black people in America -- lack of employment, quality schools, quality housing, the lower life expectancy, regular anti-Black racism and rhetoric and etc -- and describing the middle-class as the backbone of institutional racism in the US seeking to preserve good government and homes and schools only for themselves, Ture and Hamilton turn to the civil rights movement
We must face the fact that, in the past, what we have called the movement has not really questioned the middle-class values and institutions in this country. If anything it has accepted those values and institutions without fully realising their racist nature. Reorientation means an emphasis on the dignity of man, not on the sanctity of property. It means the creation of a society where human misery and poverty are repugnant to that society, not an indication of laziness or lack of initiative. The creation of new values means the establishment of a society based, as Killens expresses it in Black Man's Burden on 'free people', not 'free enterprise'.(

So Black Power:
The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group van operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society (58). ... black people must lead and run their own organizations. Only black people can convey the revolutionary idea -- and it is a revolutionary idea -- that black people are able to do things for themselves. Only they can help create in the community an aroused and continuing black consciousness that will provide a basis for political strength. In the past, white allies have often furthered white supremacy without the whites involved realizing it, or even wanting to do so (60).

It is a movement that can speak to the 'growing militancy of young black people in the urban ghettoes and the black-belt South' rather than the earlier civil rights movement 'whose tone of voice was adapted to an audience of middle-class whites' (64). They write
We had only the old language of love and suffering. And in most places -- that is, from the liberals and middle class -- we got back the old language of patience and progress...For the masses of black people, this language resulted in virtually nothing. in fact, their objective day-to-day condition worsened' (64-65).

Their goal was also integration, but
'Integration' as a goal today speaks to the problem of blackness not only in an unrealistic way but also in a despicable way. It is based on complete acceptance of the fact that in order to have a decent house or education, black people must move into a white neighborhood or send their children to a white school. This reinforces, among both black and white, the idea that 'white' is automatically superior and 'black' is by definition inferior. For this reason, 'integration' is a subterfuge for the maintenance of white supremacy(68)

This drains skills and energies from the ghetto, and asks blacks to deny their identity and heritage, instead 'the racial and cultural personality of the black community must be preserved and that community must win its freedom while preserving its cultural integrity' (69).

They have a whole chapter on 'The Myths of Coalition'
Myth one:
The major mistake made by exponents of teh coalition theiry is that they advocate alliances with groups which have never had as their central goal the necessarily total revamping of the society. At bottom those groups accept the American system and want only -- if at all -- to make peripheral, marginal reforms in it. Such reforms are inadequate to rid the society of racism.
Here we come back to an important point made in the first chapter: the overriding sense of superiority that pervades white America (73).

the political and economic institutions of this society must be completely revised if the political and economic status of black people is to be improved. We do not see how those same institutions can be utilized -- through teh mechanism of coalescing with some of them -- to bring about that revision. We do not see how black people can form effective coalitions with groups which are not willing to question and condemn the racist institutions which exploit black people; which do not perceive the need for, and will not work for, basic change. Black people cannot afford to assume that what is good for white American is automatically good for black people (78)

Myth 2 - 'the assumption that a politically and economically secure group can collaborate with a politically and economically insecure group. (78)
We cannot see, then, how black people, who are massively insecure both politically and economically, can coalesce with those whose position is secure -- particularly when the latter's security is based on the perpetuation of the existing political and economic structure. (87)

Myth 3 - 'that political coalitions can be sustained on a moral, friendly, or sentimental basis, or on appeals to concience'. What then are grounds for good coalitions?
'all parties to the coalition must perceive a mutually beneficial goal based on the conception of each party of his own self interest. One party must not blindly assume that what is good for one is automatically good for the other.

there is a clear need for genuine power bases before black people can enter into coalition...Civil rights leaders who ... rely essentially on ;national sentiment'...must appeal to the conscience, the good graces of society; they are, as noted earlier, cast in a beggar's role.

Thus there are 4 preconditions to viable coalitions
a. the recognition by the parties involved of their respective self-interests
b. the mutual belief that each party stands to benefit in terms of self-interest
c. the acceptance of the fact that each party has its own independant base of power and does not depend for its own ultimate decision-making on a force outside itself
d. the realization that the coalition deals with specific and identifiable -- as opposed to general and vague -- goals. (92)

They go on to tell the story of the awesome Mississippi Freedom Democrats, fighting to create a new kind of politics that is of the people. They writes about the drive to register African-Americans in Lowndes County Alabama where they were a majority. They looks at Tuskegee, the politics of accommodation, and the ‘dynamite of the ghetto’. They write:
It is ludicrous for the society to believe that these temporary measures can long contain the tempers of an oppressed people. And when the dynamite goes off, pious pronouncements of patience should not go forth. Blame should not be placed on ‘outside agitators’ or on ‘Communist influence’ or on advocates of Black Power. That dynamite was placed there by white racism and it was ignited by white racist indifference and unwillingness to act justly. (168)

The dynamite is still there, and this just made me laugh because this is still exactly how downtown machines work and its still just as true: 'black politicians must stop being representatives of 'downtown' machines, whatever the cost might be in terms of lost patronage and holiday handouts(61)'.
Profile Image for Mykie.
35 reviews
January 2, 2015
Before I dive into a formal review of this amazing piece of literature, I must say that this book is a must-read for everyone. The book has a wealth of information, constructive take-aways and is a well-referenced documentation of facts that are not always accurately communicated in history books. One can learn from this book, grow from this book, be inspired by this book and, most urgently, be encouraged to ACT based on the motivation this book offers.

Why I read this book:
Black Power and Black Liberation are two of my favorite subjects. Additionally, I’ve always found Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) to be an intriguing man with a deep passion and those things, alone, pulled me in.

Content: 1/1
This book was well-organized, well-written and well-referenced. All of these factors contributed to the flow of the thesis being smooth, engaging and trustworthy. When one is documenting historical facts/events, it is always in the best interest of the readers and of the author(s), alike, to develop a sense of trustworthiness within the information being cascaded. The content here was trustworthy from the beginning to the end and I truly appreciated that. Not only was it trustworthy, this communication was necessary.

One of my favorite parts of this book, in terms of content, is the first paragraph in the preface:
“This book is about why, where and in what manner black people in America must get themselves together. It is about black people taking care of business—the business of and for black people.” This statement, alone, got my juices flowing and ready to dive in. This book is exactly what it says it is. I highly respect authors and literature that live up to their promises. In this case, I will sign off on this book being about why, where and in what manner black people in America must get themselves together. As a black person in America who craves for my people to get themselves together, that statement resonated deeply within me from my brain to my heart to the core of my soul. That powerful introductory statement set the expectation, the tone and the scope of the experience and this book, without a doubt, lived up to its promises and intentions. This book is everything!

Another brilliant aspect of this book, in terms of content, is that it is incredibly thought-provoking. It breaks barriers where one might have limited understanding, it calls out ignorance, it challenges fallacies and encourages the reader to wake up. The contents of this book truly serve as great wake up calls. The book references black labor, civil rights and integration and challenges ones ignorance around them. Throughout this read, I was encouraged to think about civil rights and integration from a different, more factual perspective. It’s way past time to get real, to truly understand what happened and why it happened. It’s time to stop sugar-coating.

Delivery: 1/1
The authors were very direct, matter-of-fact and passionate in their deliveries of this text, which I truly appreciated.

Relevance: 1/1
Not much has changed in the black community in terms of power and independence since this book was written, so it is just as relevant now as it was then.

Impact: 1/1
This book impacted me in a very positive and hopeful way. I needed this experience.
I was especially moved by the content regarding integration and the powerful assessments made by the authors in its regard.

The commentary on black labor also impacted me. To realize that the only export of the black community is labor….that was just as true then as it is now. Very deep, painful, real and necessary facts.

Bonus: 1/1
This is the best book I’ve ever read! It means just as much now as it did then. I am giving a bonus because the focus of this book is still relevant and necessary today.
Profile Image for Chris brown.
120 reviews35 followers
March 18, 2016
(Sigh) So to begin this book started with kindling that fire that is at the base of every black man woman and child but then in the middle, I began to see; unlike this books forefathers (i.e. the mis-education of the Negro) it offered no solutions to any of the obvious problems it points out. FOR MYSELF it was to akin to listening to one of my older uncles talk, and talk all day about how the world is wrong and explain in detail what is wrong with it yet they do noting and give no advice on how to solve the problems they see.

If you’re looking for a book to explain everything that "the man", "America" and everybody else has done to black people then get this book.
If you want some "solutions" and or "methods" on improving yourself as a black person or a person in general I'd get "the mis-education of the negro" and read this later.

I really wanted to like this book but I could not. It’s too much a complaint, too much of "I’ve been victimized and Im mad about It." but it lack what I was looking for "what are you going to do about it?"
Profile Image for Natalie.
310 reviews135 followers
September 25, 2016
Such a pivotal, transformative movement. This book, published in 1967,89 was honestly incredible to read. I appreciated the detailed strategies shared about various campaigns--it inspired and humbled me as an organizer.

Their elucidation of WHY they reject integration as a goal is solid. "'Integration' as a goal today speaks to the problem of blackness not only in an unrealistic way but also in a despicable way. It is based on complete acceptance of the fact that in order to have a decent house or education, black people must move into a white neighborhood or send their children to a white school. This reinforces, among both black and white, the idea that 'white' is automatically superior and 'black' is by definition inferior. For this reason, 'integration' is a subterfuge for the maintenance of white supremacy." (p. 54)

They make a compelling cautionary case against working in coalition with white progressives: "...that is precisely the lesson of the Reconstruction era. Black people were allowed to register, to vote and to participate in politics, because it was to the advantage of powerful white "allies" to permit this. But at all times such advances flowed from white decisions. That era of black participation in politics was ended by another set of white decisions." (p. 79)

The chapter on Tuskegee, Alabama was interesting and disturbing with the context we know now about that city. By many measurements, Tuskegee was a symbol of how things could be better for black people. It was a city with black-run hospitals and businesses, with a vibrant black middle class. It was also a city adhering faithfully to the philosophies of Booker T. Washington--that black folks just needed to lift themselves up, educate themselves, ready themselves for full civic participation in American society by focusing on self-improvement, and then benevolent white people would see that and hand over their fair share of power. Of course that didn't happen, as the authors describe. But what wouldn't be known until 1972 was the hidden, horrific medical experiment being performed unknowingly on black people in that area. (http://bit.ly/1aDnQe7) Every point Carmichael and Hamilton make about the limits of Booker T. Washington's approach are dramatically highlighted for the reader who knows the later context.

The authors are honest about how difficult the work was: "Many people who would aspire to the role of organizer drop off simply because they do not have the energy, the stamina, to knock on doors day after day. That is why one finds many such people sitting in coffee shops talking and theorizing instead of organizing." (p. 105) I read in another report that one of the organizers of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization campaign said they would talk to 300 people, get 10 of them to agree to register to vote, 3 of whom would actually show up to register, all of whom would be chased away by the violent sheriff without being able to accomplish their goal. AND THEY KEPT IT UP. Damn.

The heightened political consciousness of Black Americans that has been taken for granted for the entirety of my life did not appear out of nowhere. It was painstakingly built, with organizers and volunteers doing the work without knowing for sure what the outcome would be. This is what we call BRAVE, folks.

They didn't claim to have all the answers, pointing out themselves in level-headed terms where their strategies fell short (like attacking political subservience without simultaneously accounting for economic dependence). But their complete dedication to trying, and planning, and working, and then coming back again, speaks out from every page.

White readers be warned--they are honest and detailed about some of the HEINOUS shit white people have done. From violent voter suppression to Chicago "race riots" (better to call them "white violence surges"), and with the tragic irony of Tuskegee around the corner, this book is going to make you honestly wonder if the sins of our people can ever be made right.
Profile Image for Tim Pettaway.
3 reviews2 followers
July 9, 2020
If you want to understand the history of Black people's powerlessness in America then this is a necessary read. Each chapter gives a very detailed account of situations concerning Black Power. It's both amazing and alarming to see the similarities between what they were faced with in the 60's and what we're experiencing today. It's almost identical.

Overall this book is very solid; it's comprehensive, and clear in it's message. The book may be small in size but it's vast with information, which at times, can be a bit difficult to read through.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a means of navigating the systems that entangle us.
Profile Image for Michael Strode.
41 reviews24 followers
July 5, 2011
In his 1992 Afterword, Charles Hamilton penned a response to the prevailing criticisms that Black Power was responsible for "highlighting racial divisions", "eschewing coalitions with whites", attempting "to kick whites out of the civil rights movement", and being "anti-white, defeatist, and bitterly rejecting the civil rights movement's traditional goal of integration". While the rest of the afterword holds a patient and intellectual argument for the continued necessity of Black Power, one can sense in his retort that these critiques were particularly blistering for Hamilton and that he had argued the point many times before.

"No matter that some explanations focused on the denial of these charges and attempted to discuss the concept in terms of viable pluralist American politics. No matter that painstaking efforts were made to point out the years of inability of blacks to enter viable coalitions with other groups, coalitions that would recognize and respect the legitimate needs and complaints of black Americans. Many Black Power advocates tried to make the case that blacks have always understood the necessity for coalitions, but all too often those efforts were thwarted, and blacks, because of their relatively weak status, were unable to do much about this. Where were the viable coalitional partners in the 1930's when black organizations (the NAACP and the National Urban League, most prominently) virtually pleaded with their white allies to include agricultural workers and domestic servants--not only blacks, but all such workers--in the social insurance provisions of the landmark Social Security Act of 1935? Those allies deserted them. Where were the coalition partners when blacks were persuaded not to push for the end to racial discrimination even while liberals urged blacks to support (as blacks did) a meaningful Full Employment Bill? And, when the 1960's arrived, where were the enlightened allies when the racially integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party sought to challenge the white racist Mississippi State Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention? In each instance, the message was clear: Black Americans were not politically strong enough to convince their potential allies to go along with them. The message was equally clear that the fundamental interests of blacks would be subordinated to those interests of more powerful forces in the society."

The sentiment of this passage along with others expressed by Hamilton in the afterword provides a reworked closing argument for rethinking the role which Black Power should play in the present era. In recounting the mistakes in he and Ture's initial analysis and trajectory, he provides a lens through which we might view the events of the past and the future anew. He speaks to the scenario in which Black Power might have seemed philosophically different for those who are working towards its establishment. Whereas they may have had a socialist orientation and the goal of a more open society attached to their original outlook, it might be just as easily argued that black capitalism and black power are one and the same. This turned out to be the most gripping and transformative portion of the text for me because I was able to evaluate two recent political phenomena in the context of theories explored in the original text: Obama's election and charter schools.

During the course of the election of Barack Obama, we saw a sweeping proclamation of a grassroots uprising; a coalition of Black, Latino, White, LGBT, and all other manner of liberal left leaning forces creating a groundswell tide that were to sweep President Obama from his humble roots as a community organizer and member of the founding advisory board at Public Allies through state and federal Senatorial roles direct into the White House. I am not going argue the point whether there are any significant "roots" remaining in that "grass" for I think we have other outlets which have vetted that point thoroughly. I will examine where black people stand nearly 4 years hence.

For 4 years, we have had challengers both in and outside of our community whom have shouted down the naysayers with cries of "He's not simply the President of Black America. He's the President of all America." A hollow argument at best. If we examine this statement in the context of the chapter "The Myths of Coalition", we are able to clearly see how the same coalition which beseeched us to "get on the bus" when many in our community were initially mistrusting of organizing around a black candidate and were ready to vote for any available Clinton have now deserted us in our pleas with the President to attend to the needs of our community. Are we markedly different from any other special interest group in need of social uplift? No. But we have been conned into accepting a weakened position as window decoration for a mythic coalition of American populism.

On charter schools, we have not fared much better. Whereas once we were organized around the goal of improvement for the conditions of our neighborhood schools as discussed in the chapter "The Search for New Forms" regarding such a case at I.S. 201 in Harlem, we have now created an educational crap shoot. If you cannot locate a viable school in your neighborhood, you can search out one of the many available magnet, private, or charter options perhaps a few buses or trains away. Less the case with private schools although it can happen, even when you settle on a magnet or charter school, your child could be in a few years before you realize that their skills are either not improving or regressing and perhaps by then the state will release a new report card and the Sun Times will do a "special investigation" to tell you that you rolled a 7 instead of an 11.

Individual gain in a capitalist system will inevitably be purchased at a social cost. The arguments in the charter movement are largely positioned in artificial opposition to each other. Every so often a test case will bubble to the surface at one of these schools which will show that a child from a broken home or damaging neighborhood environment can still be educated to succeed when given the right tools in their educational space to reach those goals. Still when we question why the tools in all schools are not simply improved to offer a greater supply of children the same success, we often hear the argument that the school is not a parent or that education does not end at its doors. Which is it? Can we save more students through education or not? We will never be able to have it both ways no matter how much mental justification we afford ourselves for accepting this as "just the way things are". Douglass, DuBois, Harrison, Garvey, and Shabazz all stood in agreement on the matter.
3 reviews
August 3, 2022
This is not the same as white power. Though the title can cause a side eye, it’s about achieving fundamental democratic principles unseen in American history through the conjoined forces of racial and class oppression. These were the guys who coined “institutional racism” and relayed how mainstream politics operate under a broken democracy.
Profile Image for Paige.
1 review4 followers
July 30, 2015
Black Power: The Politics of Liberation was an amazing, necessary read for me right now. It’s powerful, emotional and strategic language was all at once overwhelming and calming. As someone who is constantly looking for my place in the struggle for Black liberation, this book by Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and Charles V. Hamilton provided me with words to match my sentiments and strategies to match my determination for systemic change. The book includes various case studies of political/community organizations, and predominately Black cities as well as deep examinations of strategies Black people can and should employ in our fight for our liberation from racist, capitalist, and inequitable system and institutions.

It is important to note that I am really just beginning this process of discovery and analysis of the way history has taught us to fight for our freedom. But, I definitely feel like Ture & Hamilton’s work has matured the thought-process I participate in with such an undertaking. The book is laid out in a way that is easy to read and follow - terms may be introduced that you are not already aware of, but Ture & Hamilton do a good job of explaining terms as well as providing context for their use or definition. I picked it up because I’m invested in the work of community/capacity-building and putting in the time to make effective, lasting change for Black people’s condition in America. And as a began reading, I was introduced and re-introduced to important concepts that are necessary to understand and evaluate as we work toward that change. Without taking too much time to go deeply into the content of the book (I highly suggest you pick it up), I would just like to point to a few quotes from the book that resonated with me.

<“Integration as a goal today speaks to the problem of Blackness not only in an unrealistic way but also in a despicable way. It is based on a complete acceptance of the fact that in order to have a decent house or education, Black people must move into a white neighborhood or send their children to a white school. This reinforces, among both Black and white, the idea that “white” is automatically superior and “black” is by definition inferior. For this reason, “integration is a subterfuge for the maintenance of white supremacy…To sprinkle Black children among white pupils in outlying schools is at best a stop-gap measure. The goal is not to take Black children out of the Black community and expose them to white, middle-class values; the goal is to build and strengthen the Black community.” (pg. 54-55)>

<“The adoption of the concept of Black Power is one of the most legitimate and healthy developments in American politics and race relations in our time…It is a call for Black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call to Black people to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations, and to support those organizations. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society. The concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: Before a group can enter the open society, it must first close ranks.” (pg. 44)>

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Danny Mason.
178 reviews5 followers
May 11, 2022
This was great, I feel like these days it's not as well known as some other books from the civil rights movement but it deserves to be right up there with the best. It strikes a perfect balance between the charisma and power of the revolutionary Kwame Ture and the detailed argumentation and insight of the political scientist Charles V. Hamilton. I know it's a cliche, but most of the book really does feel like it could be written today, a testament to the strength of the arguments being made but sadly also to the extent they've been wrongly ignored.

I particularly enjoyed the first chapter, which makes a convincing case for the idea that the relationship between white and black people in America is colonial in nature, and should be treated as such in order to counteract this dynamic. It's an idea I'd heard in passing before but never fully registered and reading it being argued for so convincingly here definitely opened up new ways of looking at the issue for me.

The case studies used in the later chapters also brilliantly demonstrate the pitfalls of coalition-building with white liberals, and why 'black faces in high places' will not in itself be an effective solution to many of the issues facing black communities, an argument that Cornel West was making only a few weeks ago on CNN in a clip that went viral.

Side note, I finally got around to watching BlacKkKlansman just after I started reading this book and was surprised to see Kwame Ture pop up in that story too, outlining a lot of the ideas that are in this book. So if you enjoyed that scene, I would definitely recommend reading this!
Profile Image for Dave.
520 reviews13 followers
October 26, 2010
Articulate and farseeing, Carmichael and Hamilton present their point-of-view on the socioeconomic problems exacerbating racial tensions in the late '60s. What struck me most about this book were the aspects discussed by Carmichael that have in no way been solved today. The authors point out the underlying reasons for urban and rural poverty, and those reasons continue unabated. It makes me wonder how our society has succeeded for sweeping these problems under the rug for so long. I imagine the rampant drug problems in urban spaces have acted as a smokescreen that allows us to obsess over a consequence rather than the root issue. I recommend this one to all takers, but don't be lulled to sleep by its 1967 publication date. It's still a legitimate critique for our day.
Profile Image for Elle Long.
9 reviews
April 15, 2014
This isn't for your enjoyment, it's for your FREEDOM.

Thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. Ture and Hamilton have helped to lay a foundation for the us, their future. They've given use the manuscript on how to take control on our lives and what we deserve as human beings. This book not only tells of the corrupted lives of the government and it's "personal" relationship with big business, but of the re-education that needs to be done because of it! McDonald's will receive more money from the government this year to feed us fake food than will go out for school scholarships.

And we need to do something about it.
Profile Image for Jordan | Just A Book Collection.
17 reviews7 followers
December 2, 2018
“There is no ‘American dilemma’ because black people in this country form a colony, and it is not in the interest of the colonial power to liberate them. Blacks people are legal citizens of the United States with, for the most part, the same legal rights as other citizens. Yet they stand as colonial subjects in relation to the white society. Thus institutional racism has another name: colonialism.”

Ture and Hamilton’s “Black Power” is a necessary read for those wanting to learn about institutional racism and how to move forward. Their theory of internal colonization is thought provoking and has since inspired others to study racial inequality through this lens.
Profile Image for Terry Jess.
384 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2021
This should be required reading, and honestly it shocks me that it has never been on reading lists and suggestions I have seen. I happened to see it at a used bookstore and wanted to read more from Kwame Ture, so I picked it up. This book touches on so many issues of modern race theory and practice, and yet it was written in 1967. I know I give high praise for books, but the date of its publishing is blowing me away for what it contains.
1 review
October 31, 2018
Read it, digest it, buy a few copies to share with others if you can. Encourage your librarian to acquire it and and keep an electronic copy in your digital library as well to reference and share the ideas and valuable lessons in the book.
If you have been newly or recently politically activated this should be one of your first reads if not your first.
Profile Image for Dipa  Raditya.
241 reviews30 followers
July 7, 2019
Criticizing labor movements, liberals, and the middle class for being complacent in systemic racism, Black Power challenges coalitions to genuinely serve the anti-racism and the needs of the black community.
Profile Image for Snaxx.
36 reviews5 followers
March 1, 2013
I love my man Kwame Ture...

He lays everything out perfectly.
Profile Image for Gary Fisher.
173 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2020
What does it say about this country that this book is still as relevant today as ever. We have a lot of work to do before racial equality is a reality.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
30 reviews
August 21, 2018
I'm really glad to have read this book. My friend was travelling overseas and gave me a bunch of books to look after and read while she was gone, this was one of them.

It's a very telling book. Even though it was written in the 60s and the afterwords in 1992, it is still as relevant, if not more so now. I believe that like others, this should be a required reading in schools, and not just in the US, in Australia too. There are too many history books written by white Americans floating around and being used as required readings in Australia and it needs to stop, there are so many stories, people, perspectives being missed.

For some reason, there is a paragraph from Kenneth Clark's Dark Ghetto [pg. 63-64] on page 29, that really speaks to me in terms of a sense of belonging:
"Every human being depends upon his cumulative experiences with others for clues as to how he should view and value himself, children who are consistently rejected understandably begin to question and doubt whether they, their family, and their group really deserve no more respect from the larger society than they receive. These doubts become the seeds of pernicious self- and group-hatred, the Negro's complex and debilitating prejudice against himself."

Personally, as a white Australian, I don't know much about the black power movement, let alone the Aboriginal histories of the nation I call home, however, I am reading books like this to educate myself, and highly recommend all to do so as well.

I read a number of reviews before putting my own together after finishing this book. There was one that particularly irked me, stating that this book does nothing to solve the situation that black people find themselves in. Well, to be frank, how can one solve any situation if you don't know the background situation, the history, and haven't formed a plan of action, with like-minded people? I think the afterwords goes to show that they did miss a key part, and go on to explain that until you have not just visible black people, but visible black people with as Charles states merit. They need to be not just working towards their own gain but as a group. I believe one cannot grasp the nature of what Stokely and Charles are really trying to get at when they talk about working as a group, and it's not as simple, as they showcase throughout the book with historical data.

Also here's a link to more books and resources: LINK. This is not my folder, I just found it.
Profile Image for Baimungi Uhuru.
99 reviews
November 3, 2021
What is Black Power? Kwame Ture & Charles V. Hamilton gives you the precise definition in this book. It's about 230 pages of hard hitting truths that have been passed over by our preceding generation. Too many of us are still trying to survive in this shitstem and find "comfortable" footing in the racial economic establishment. If we are to survival as a people then this book needs to read by all of us with a clear overstanding of what we must happen. It's the precursor to the Blueprint to Black Power by Amos N. Wilson. Can We? 55 years later we haven't. We have been hoodwinked & sidelined. No subject that is based on the politics of liberation is missed or thrown out. The afterwords are beautifully written on the concept 25 years later after the original publishing. Kwame Ture and Charles V. Hamilton did a great job explaining "Black Power"

"The adoption of the concept of Black Power is one of the most legitimate and healthy developments in American politics and race relations in our time. The concept of Black Power speaks to all the needs mentioned in this chapter. It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations and to support those organizations. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society." -KT/CVH
Profile Image for Mo.
46 reviews
October 25, 2020
Learning the political strategy behind Black Power has been so transformational for my understanding of how institutionalized and systemic racism actually manifests, and how I can show up as an ally. The book emphasizes that racism against Blacks is particularly unique in the US because it so heavily contributed to the financial foundations of our country, and that the hatred and bigotry directed at Blacks obscures the true colonial motivations of the "othering" of Black people: financial exploitation. By driving home this point, and laying out a clear political strategy and paralleling it to other political strategies that groups have used in the past - groups that have not had the color of their skin as such obvious, visible signaling for "othering" - Black Power really helped me understand how much racism is about power and subjugation for financial gain. This implies that the hatred and bigotry is the cost Black people pay for this oppression, but the dismantling of this dynamic is not about getting white people to like Black people. That's dealing with symptoms. The dismantling comes in undoing colonial practices that continue to exploit Black people and encourage the "othering" as a social justification for this financial and political gain. Incredible read.
Profile Image for Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount).
858 reviews35 followers
July 31, 2017
This book is from the 1960's, so race relations in the US have progressed a bit since then, but I suspect that in much of the South and urban inner-city areas this book is still very relevant. I also was noting while reading this one how different the part of the West is where I live, compared to the parts of the US Carmichael is directly discussing. The trendy-popular notion that the US is really 12-13 nations/societies squished together is supported by reading books like this. My area has racism too, but it is not centered around Black and White. Here the conflict is between White and Hispanic, and is caught up with immigration issues. I also liked the bits about political strategies used during the civil rights movement by people who had so little leverage to use towards gaining group power.
Profile Image for Mark.
78 reviews2 followers
July 13, 2020
I'm sorry I haven't read this book sooner. The things said in this book, have obviously been said for a long time. The history of the Reconstruction period, the Jim Crow period and the Civil Rights Era have made that plain to me. If any white person is still asking why African-American/Black folks are still angry about racism, all they have to do is make an effort at understanding this history.

I must admit that the title of this book put me off many times, but don't let that dissuade YOU from reading this book. The prose is eloquent and convincing without much elaboration. Elaboration is not really necessary to understand this horrific history. The solutions speak for themselves. Its not up to me to say this, but I think they could work for more than one community.
Profile Image for Alan Mills.
536 reviews23 followers
July 8, 2021
This book may have been written in 1967, but it’s analysis is completely applicable to racism in the US today.

Just to cite one small paragraph of their analysis of urban problems (p. 160): crime is a result of a cycle of poverty which starts with the refusal of many employers to hire Black people on an equal basis with white people. Without a decent education or job prospects, many young people are forced to earn a living through drugs, sex work, or other jobs in the underground economy!

They were writing in the. Midst of the Harlem/Watts and many other mid-60’s uprisings. But they might as well be writing today, almost 60 years later, in the midst of George Floyd and related protests of 2020.

Highly recommended!
15 reviews
June 4, 2022
This was one of the most political reads I've picked up, and it was for one of our family books read months. Although it was personally hard for me to continue reading and pushing through, I found there were tons of unknown information on each page and that was something I could appreciate. I'm amazed by the number of facts included, and if anything I definitely retained some of the most important aspects. "Another frequently overlooked lesson of Washington's career concerns that aspect of his position which called upon whites to 'reward' blacks with 'ultimate' inclusion in the political process" (Ture & Hamilton 126). This is just one example of how the authors dig deeper into the realities of times and events we know as one thing and explains them as another.
Profile Image for Brandon.
39 reviews
September 27, 2020
From a literary perspective, the book is well written enough to warrant the reviews it has received. It also is a relatively easy read for socio-political book, which is nice.

My middling review of the book stems , in the interest of full transparency, from my personal bias towards the efficacy of the views express within to actual produce the well-oiled, Pan African, open Socialist Society that the writers vociferously champion.


The book is well written enough, but the Black Power ideology is anathema to achieving true racial/cultural progress in a modern, pluralistic Western society.
Profile Image for Ryan.
86 reviews8 followers
April 24, 2019
Some of this text may be essentially common knowledge for those in the left in 2019 but not only did it help pave the way but as seen in the afterward by Kwame Ture (the former Stokely Carmichael) many of it's conclusions were such that it sent the movement in the right direction of struggle.

Doubtlessly a classic.
November 20, 2022
Kwame Ture lays out what Black Power is, and why we need it. Kwame Ture argument for Black political power still find true today and is an inspiration to all African part of the diaspora. The Afterwords in 1992 are great criticisms of the book, ideas and vision for the community as well. Black Power should be in every Africans Book home and/or reading device.
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