Who founded Black Power?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

The term “Black Power” emerged as a significant movement during the civil rights era in the United States. It was not founded by a single individual, but rather evolved through the collective efforts of various activists and organizations. However, there are a few key figures who played influential roles in shaping the Black Power movement.

One of the earliest mentions of Black Power can be traced back to Richard Wright, a renowned African American author. In 1954, Wright published a non-fiction book titled “Black Power,” in which he explored the concept of empowerment and self-determination for Black Americans. While Wright’s book did not explicitly advocate for a political movement, it laid the groundwork for the term’s later usage.

In the mid-1960s, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) in Alabama played a crucial role in popularizing the slogan “Black Power for Black People.” The LCFO, led by activists such as Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, aimed to address the political and social marginalization of Black Americans in the county. They sought to establish an independent political party that would represent and empower the local Black community.

Stokely Carmichael, later known as Kwame Ture, became one of the most prominent voices associated with the Black Power movement. As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1966, he popularized the phrase “Black Power” as a call for Black Americans to assert their rights and challenge systemic racism. Carmichael emphasized the need for self-defense and community control in the face of ongoing oppression.

Another influential figure in the Black Power movement was Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party (BPP) in 1966. The Black Panther Party advocated for self-defense against police brutality and sought to address the social and economic inequalities faced by Black Americans. Newton’s leadership and the BPP’s activism helped galvanize the Black Power movement, particularly in urban areas like Oakland, California.

It is important to note that the Black Power movement was not limited to these individuals or organizations. It was a decentralized movement that resonated with many Black Americans who sought empowerment, self-determination, and an end to racial injustice. Various community organizations, student groups, and grassroots movements across the country embraced the principles of Black Power and worked towards its goals.

While the term “Black Power” did not have a single founder, its origins can be traced back to Richard Wright’s book and its subsequent adoption by the LCFO in Alabama. However, the movement gained significant momentum through the efforts of activists like Stokely Carmichael and organizations like the Black Panther Party. The Black Power movement was a collective effort, driven by the shared goal of achieving equality and liberation for Black Americans.