Black Power

Black Americans had been organizing for Black Power long before Willie Ricks and Stokely Carmichael shouted out the phrase in June 1966. After World War II, Black veterans had returned home determined to organize, vote, and dismantle white supremacy. They were an essential part of the older generation of activists who took SNCC in and showed them the way. SNCC’s efforts to register Black voters in some of the most violently racist areas of the South paid off with the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But the question remained: “who can we vote for — how can we make the vote meaningful?” So SNCC turned towards organizing independent Black political parties, economic cooperatives, and cultural institutions, seeking to put the interests of Black people first.