A few weeks ago an online discussion about the concept of Black Power and whether or not it was being diluted and gentrified popped up on the facebook page of Jared Ball, long time radio host, journalist and professor at Morgan State and author of several books including I Mix What I Like and A Lie of Reivention Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X . A lot of interesting points were raised about the systemic erasing and distorting of history in academic settings which was resulting in a younger generation of scholars building theory and ideas off of faulty information. This online conversation sparked off a round table that was recently hosted on the syndicated Hard Knock Radio.
A couple of other scholars Dr Quito Swan of Howard University (Black Power in Bermuda) and Professor Rickey Vincent of UC Berkeley and SF State (History of Funk, Party Music) were contacted for a robust round table discussion that covered a variety of topics ranging from the history and origins of the term and what inspired Kwame Toure then known as Stokely Carmichael along with Willie Ricks to kick things off during a rally in 1966 in Mississippi.
We talked about the deeper meanings behind the term and how it jived with the political and social dynamics at that time. We also talked about the harsh reaction to the term from the US government and how almost immediately there were efforts to both eradicate and redefine it.
Initially Black Power was a call for folks to stand up against imperialism and over the years its been reduced to economic prowess and later Black people’s to get in position of power and mimic imperialistic actions long taken by the US. As Jared Ball noted Black Power has now become an ‘American story‘ of success where the status quo is maintained vs one that steadfastly opposed wrong headed policies put forth by this country.
Ricky Vincent built upon many of the points he put forth in his new book Party Music which chronicles the way music was influenced by the Black Power movements.. He noted that Carmichael tapped into an energy of resistence that was bubbling amongst Black folks all over the world. He just gave it a name. The state via the FBI recognized that energy and spent alot of time trying to dismantle and stifle that energy controlling and using culture.
We also talked about how the concept of Black Power played out on the international stage. This is Quito Swan‘s area of expertise and he put forth a number of salient points and reminded us that one of the challenges we have today is that as some try to soften and redefine Black power, they leave out how the freedom struggles in the US linked up with freedom struggles elsewhere, from the Carribean , throughout Latin America and Africa. He focused in on the first Black Power Convention that took place in 1969 in Bermuda.
Below is our Hard Knock Radio show roundtable -Enjoy