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A Revolutionary by Any Other Name

The architect of the Black Power movement who coined the term “Black power,” Stokely Carmichael was born on this day in 1941. He was a leading voice during the Civil Rights Movement, first as a field secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “snick”) and later in the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party.

Born in Trinidad and raised in New York City, Carmichael attended Howard University in Washington, DC, and graduated in 1964. While there, he organized several of the student-led sit-ins to desegregate lunch counters, movie theaters, and other establishments throughout the South that practiced racial segregation. Carmichael also participated in voter registration drives, including in Lowndes County, Alabama. Along with other SNCC members, he helped form the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) as a third political party to challenge both Democratic and Republican parties in the county. The LCFO adopted the image of a pouncing black panther as their symbol—one that would later be made famous by the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, in 1966 (with which Carmichael would later become affiliated). Moving toward a more pan-African liberationist philosophy, Carmichael moved to Guinea and changed his name to Kwame Ture. Carmichael/Ture died in 1998 from prostate cancer. 

In 1965, Stokely Carmichael, along with fellow SNCC members Charlie Cobb and Courtland Cox, spoke with Studs Terkel about civil rights, African Americans in politics, and the philosophy of the SNCC. Listen now.

Explore the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, which features more than 1,200 programs and interviews with the twentieth century’s most fascinating people. Browse the archive.

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