Black Power is the Strong Hand of a Black Man

In the history of African Americans in this country, there have been some remarkable movements and images that seem to capture the mood of the black country and community at the time. And this one phrase “black power” is without a doubt one of the most simple and elegant statements of pride and unity in the black community. But it’s also a phrase that has come to represent the more violent and ominous side of the struggle for equality in the black community. And that makes it a controversial phrase then and now.

Perhaps the greatest image of black power is the strong hands of a black man, clenched in black gloves and raised in the air in defiance and pride. The salute has never been used so perfectly at the 1968 Olympics when Tommy Smith and John Carlos lifted black power fists complete with black gloves as they received medals for their performances at that Olympics.

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The phrase “black power” was not coined in marches or riots as implied. It was actually made by Robert Williams, head of the NAACP in the early sixties. But it really started to become a “street term” when it was adopted by Makasa Dada and Stokely Carmichael, founders of the Student Non-Violence Coordination Committee which was the forerunner of the infamous Black Panther Party.

Unfortunately the black power movement became characterized by radical elements that went further than seeking the goals of Martin Luther King and the leadership of other civil rights movements. These radical elements seek black segregation and social change by violent means. So at a time of tremendous turmoil in the country because of the violence in Vietnam and on the streets of America because of that social strife, The Black Panthers and other fringe groups sew fear and hatred in response to racism that sometimes makes it harder to achieve long-term change.

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But there is good to see even in some of the darker elements of black history and leadership seeking the best way forward for African Americans. Sometimes radical elements need to make themselves known so that reasonable members of the community can know the outer limits and find a compromise. This is of value to the black power movement because it demands discussion, albeit with violence and makes the importance of reasonable Americans jointly seeking peaceful change even more important.

But there is another good that comes from the black power movement. The fist images are images of pride and a willingness to stand up for the rights of black Americans. They inspire young people to become more politically active, to stand out in their own world and make the statement James Brown made famous “Say it Loud. I’m Black and I’m Proud.” That pride is an important thing and should be found by young people.

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They must find it in their community and in their heroes. So if black youth are proud and brave to face their own plight from the courageous stance of leaders who, albeit radically, say loudly that black America will now be a force to be reckoned with, the resulting call to action for the black community generates more. positive effect than negative.

The fringe voice does speak what’s in people’s hearts and by letting out that anger and frustration, it becomes part of the movement. That energy can be captured and used for good, not evil. And the end result is an energized movement for change and making life better for all black Americans. And that’s what everyone wants.

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