In June 1966, James Meredith, the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi, began a solitary “Walk Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. On the second day of his walk, he was shot by a white man and hospitalized.
Civil rights organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) vowed to continue the march in Meredith’s place.
On June 16, SNCC Chairman Stokely Carmichael spoke before a rally in Greenwood, Miss., and uttered two words that became a rallying cry for a movement:
We been saying freedom for six years. What we are going to start saying now is Black Power.
Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) later defined “Black Power”:
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 define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is marking this milestone with a digital exhibition, “Black Power!” The virtual museum is a collaboration between the Schomburg Center and Google Cultural Institute.
On Wednesday, June 15, the Schomburg Center will kick off a year-long examination of the Black Power Movement with a conversation with Kathleen Cleaver and Jamal Joseph. For more information, go here.