The Black Power movement

The Black Power movement

The Black Power movement was a masterpiece that was designed to empower the blacks to liberate themselves. The movement was designed to impart pride which was to be the motivation for their liberation. The movement based on the psychology of politics which Hans Morgenthau believed is the Psychological control over the minds of men. Therefore the most crucial aspect in the liberation of the blacks was the independence of the minds of the blacks.  The movement further indicated the value of words citing various struggles in the history of America as well as the struggle for independence in Africa. There was power in the words and the power for liberation was in the mind.


The Black Power movement was based on the need for change. Based on V.O. Key Jr view, the new group had to fight for the reorientation of the old order. This was what Black Power was all about. It aimed at depicting a different picture of who blacks were. In the old order they were slaves and bowed to all the requests of the whites. However, times had changed; the blacks were now knowledgeable of their rights thanks to the effort of great African American nationalists such as WEB Dubois, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.  The process of redefining the perspective of black Americans led to the identification of three main philosophies; cultural identification; political modernization and unity.

            Cultural Identity

This philosophy was developed from the Power of words; you can use words to mean whatever you want it to mean; nothing more nothing less. This is evident in the modern America whereby the system continues to entrench the values of the society through words. Through repeated use of words and phrases the kids grow knowing that America is great nation “the land of the free and the home of the brave” (Carmichael, 37). Therefore the first step was the Black people redefining themselves via the power of words. They started referring themselves as African-Americans, Afro-Americans or black people and no longer Negroes. The word Negros was used by the whites as a stereotype to mean that they are to be oppressed, have no rights and should serve them without questioning or resistance. However once there was the shift of names, the word and stereotyping started with the whites and ended with the whites.  The African Americans henceforth viewed themselves as either black Americans or black people who were energetic, intelligent, determined and peace loving and no longer lazy, dumb apathetic or any other thing that whites referred them as.

The second stage was the black community embracing their cultural practices such as the prevalent spirit of brotherhood. John O Killens provided evidence to support this as during his visits to black communities he was always addressed to as a brother. This was a sense of community a factor that would be really important in the cultivation of unity among all blacks. The black community was known for referring their pals or just any member of the community as brother, soul-sister or soul-brother (Carmichael, 38). The pursuit of culture would also involve the black people tracing their roots from secondary sources such as books and reference to the African practices and cultures. It is only this knowledge and identification of who the blacks are really are that Black Power would actually be achieved.

Political Modernization

This philosophy was aimed at creating political space for the Black people and empowering them to take the space availed. This was to be achieved through three main processes; the first was to scrutinize the old intuitions and values of the society and question them. There would then be a search for new and different political structures that would solve political and economic problems and finally the broadening the base of political participation so as to facilitate the inclusion of more people (Carmichael, 38). All the three processes were aimed at wiping off the notion of racism from the face of the political institutions and the entire government structure.

The movement was specifically opposed to the assimilation to the current values of the society and more specifically the middle-class America. The class was actually referred to as the backbone of racism in America. The change of old political values meant that modernization of political and economic structures was inevitable. The political parties, bureaucratic administrations and pressure groups all had to adopt the new order of the day. They singled out the two parties and referred them as non-viable entities for legitimate representation of the needs of the masses. The change was not to be achieved through passive and timid actions and questioning but through aggressive and clear questioning and challenging of the existing systems. Even if it meant the creation of parallel bodies or taking control of the relevant institutions then that is what the Black Power movement would do. This was to be achieved through more people becoming politically active and sensitive, they had to move beyond handouts and incentives they had to make the change themselves and hold whoever their put in office responsible for his actions.


This philosophy was structured to be an eye opener for the blacks that change could only be achieved through concerted efforts towards the achievement of the change. The Black people had to recognize their heritage and build a sense of a community (Carmichael, 44). Black Power was based on the principle that for the group to make impact in the larger America they had to break ranks among themselves. This could only be achieved through the blacks creating a sense of identity by tracing their roots Africa so as to have a kind of a tribal identity which is quite evident in the American voting trends.

The blacks also had to embrace and practice the spirit; the change had to begin with them. A reporter in Mississippi put this point clear by stating that the Negroes had to develop enough political, economic and professional strength so as to challenge the institutions of the day. The change had to begin with those in positions of power such as sheriffs ending police brutality, tax collectors championing for the development of areas where black people live, those in areas where there is black majority exercising power. In other words the change did not only mean having more black faces in office but it meant having the black faces in office already championing the change.




The movement aimed to address only three key issues since the blacks were tired of addressing the same issues over and over again. The term integration was a word that the white used to single out ‘acceptable’ black individuals and leave the masses suffering. The individuals would then serve as an excuse for the non-inclusion of other black people. Black Power movement indicated that integration meant the full acceptance of the fact that the aspect of race could not change but should not be used as a basis of discrimination. It meant that blacks would be allowed to have decent housing and education which translated to them being accepted in white neighborhoods and send children to white schools.

The second issue was on cultural integrity whereby the Black Power movement advocated for the recognition and accordance of respect of the black culture. Just like the Irish Catholics took care of their own first then the blacks should be accorded the same respect without the fear of backlash. The third issue concerned white backlash against black people. This was a practice that was deeply rooted in the institution of racism it is actually just racism defending itself. The Black Power movement wanted to emphasize the fact that they know that they were black and there was no need of emphasizing the point.



As expected the movement faced a lot of resistance from the white community who termed it as a racist organization. They argued that the fact the organization was specific on the race then it was no better than a white racist organization such as Ku Klux Klan while this was not the case. All that Black Power movement advocated for was equality, an end to the oppression and segregation of the black people in America. The other allegation was that the movement advocated for violence while this was not the case either. All the movement did was help build their frustration, all the possible languages had been exploited  and all that was left was the language of love and suffering and all that it did is stir the frustration in the youths who when the frustration reached the optimum level exploded violently



The Black Power movement was the last dice that the blacks could throw. It was a cry of pain and anger an ignition to the inner passion and pain when used as a slogan. All that was left was the spirit and will power and the movement channeled this to the right source. Finally after years of probing and near falls the black liberation was beckoning and it could only be achieved by beckoning the inner Power and channeling it on to the right direction and giving the right reasons to continue with the fight. The Black Power movement was simply a catalyst to the achievement of black liberation in America.


Works Cited

Carmichael, Stokely, and Charles V. Hamilton. “Black Power.” Black power: the politics of liberation in America. Vintage ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. 34-56. Print.

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