Black Power SNCC Speaks for Itself

Stokely CARMICHAEL   |   H. Rap BROWN

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(CARMICHAEL, Stokely) (BROWN, H. Rap). Black Power. SNCC Speaks for Itself. A Collection of Statements and Interviews. Boston: New England Free Press, (1968). Slim octavo, original black-printed tan self-wrappers; pp. 9.

First edition of a major civil rights work with Statements by Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, a lengthy interview with Brown, and excepts from a controversial "working paper" on making SNCC fully "black-staffed, black-controlled and black-financed," in original wrappers with iconic images of the fist salute based on Frank Cieciorka's work and the Black Panthers' stalking panther.

"The emergence of Black Power was… a tremendously important development in the history of the African American freedom struggle" (Hall, Peace and Freedom, 55). To some historians, Dr. King's nonviolent direct action strategies and early protests led by SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) were directly opposed by Black Power movements and a shift in SNCC politics. Others do not see these differences as contrary; all "grew out of the same soil, confronted the same predicaments, and reflected the same quest for African American freedom… virtually all of the elements that we associate with Black Power were already present in the small towns and rural communities of the South where the civil rights movement was born" (Tyson, Radio-Free Dixie, 308). This elusive publication brings together two pivotal figures in that movement: Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and H. Rap. Brown (Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin). Carmichael, elected SNCC chairman in May 1966, resigned the following May to be succeeded by Brown—a transition that marks their roles as the controversial "protean figures" of the civil rights movement. In February 1968, two months before the assassination of Dr. King, Carmichael became Prime Minister of the Oakland-based Black Panthers. King's murder quickly "placed Carmichael at the center of simmering national racial tensions" (Joseph, Stokely, xi, 257). That same year Brown resigned as SNCC leader and similarly became affiliated with the Black Panthers as Minister of Justice.

The opening work herein contains "excerpts from a working paper prepared by members of SNCC in Winter 1965-66"; a paper cited in an August 6, 1966 New York Times article as "still considered confidential." The excerpts describe making SNCC fully "black-staffed, black-controlled, and black-financed… [this] does not mean that whites cannot help… but in no way can they participate on a policy-making level." Accompanying is the printing of a 1966 Statement by Carmichael, where he defines Black Power and SNCC as "encouraging the development of 'black consciousness': pride in black history, culture, institutions." On the subject of white involvement, he asserts Black Power has not "ever meant 'anti-white'—unless whites choose to make it so." Following this is the printing of a 1967 Statement by Brown, in which he declares: "We see America for what it is, and we recognize our course of action." The publication's final work is a lengthy interview with Brown, which first appeared in the National Guardian. In it he answers questions about his SNCC leadership, the building of an "anti-draft movement" and the role of white civil rights workers. Featured on the cover are two iconic images: a clenched fist salute and a stalking black panther. The salute derives from a woodcut by artist Frank Cieciorka who worked on the 1964 Freedom Summer drive and was a field secretary for SNCC. The black panther, early linked to Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), as well as SNCC and Carmichael, became associated with the Oakland-based Black Panther Party when LCFO gave Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale permission to use it as their symbol. First edition: issued by the New England Free Press, which made its first publication in September 1967 and in 1968 began publishing from 791 Tremont Street. Small numerical notation above front wrapper.

In fine condition.

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