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The Spirit and the ShotgunArmed Resistance and the Struggle for Civil Rights$
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Simon Wendt

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780813030180

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813030180.001.0001

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Black Power and White Fear

Black Power and White Fear

(p.131) 5 Black Power and White Fear
The Spirit and the Shotgun

Simon Wendt

University Press of Florida

This chapter discusses the introduction of the slogan “Black Power” by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) chairman Stokely Carmichael in a march as a response to the shooting of civil rights activist James Meredith. The new slogan deeply disturbed white America. Journalist Paul Good wrote in the Nation that it was “a call for retaliatory combat and riot,” a stark contrast to Martin Luther King’s method of nonviolence. Carmichael’s cry for political control, black pride, and the right to armed self-defense coupled with news reports that the Deacons for Defense and Justice protected the Meredith March with guns, led many whites to accept Good’s statements. In reality, however, the Meredith March was the culmination of the long-simmering debate over the legitimacy of self-defense within the southern freedom movement. For almost a decade, many civil rights organizers had come to accept the symbiosis between tactical nonviolence and armed resistance as a simple necessity.

Keywords:   Black Power, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Stokely Carmichael, civil rights, James Meredith, white America, tactical nonviolence, armed self-defense, Meredith March

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