Tennessee, Black Power

Speaker is from Memphis, TN; she is a 23-year-old black woman with a college education.

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[Many people], uh, have given Stokely Carmichael the credit for “black power.” Stokely Carmichael was a total unknown except to, for the people who were in the Snick [=SNCC] organization in Atlanta. And Stokely Carmichael was a field marshal; even though he was head of his organization he was just, he was just like a marshal, keepin’ everyone in line, and everything. And Martin Luther King and all the big leaders, and everything, was at the front of the march, you know. And I, they had newsmen all around, but Stokely wasn’t in there, he was back there in the middle, you know, with the rest of us. And I was close to the end, and, uh, we singin’ “We need more power, power, Lord. We need more power, power, Lord.” And we was just talkin’ ’bout power to get on, uh, you know; we need power in our legs, you know, to go on walkin’. We need power in our minds, you know, not to give up. And this little boy, who was around ’bout twelve years old, he decided somewhere in the back of his little mind, he said, “We need black power, power, Lord, we,” and they would sing, “We need brown power, pow,” and then, and he, well he kept on sayin’ “We need black power, power.” And then, all of a sudden, everybody started to say, everybody else talkin ’bout power, all this power, you know. And [on] the hill, “black power” like they caught on for some reason, like a spark, just like that. And we were all in the back singin’ this, “We need black power, power,” and then everybody caught on in the middle, and that’s where Stokely was. And Stokely Car[laughter], Stokely Carmichael caught on and started sayin’, “black power.” He started marchin’ up and down the line, talkin’ ’bout, “Come on you all, sing.” You know, everybody was just droopin’ on down ahead of me. He said, “You sing or somethin’, then you start feelin’ all right.” And he said, said “We need black power, power, Lord.” Well, see, every time they would change over to “We need,” uh, uh, “leg power, power, Lord. We need,” you know, “full power,” you know, like that. And Stokely Carmichael kept on sayin’, “We need black power, power, Lord.”