Stokely Carmichael's Life

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Stokely Carmichael (AFP/Getty Images)

Stokely Carmichael was a controversial figure in black rights, straddling both the non-violent and Black Panther movements. In his new biography, Stokely: A Life, Peniel Joseph, professor of history and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University and contributing editor at, traces Carmichael’s life and what it says about the struggles for black power.


Peniel Joseph

Comments [8]

Barrie Garfinkel from Sommervieu, France

I went to High School with Stokes. He was the goalie on the soccer team and I was the center on the basketball team. We sat in Social Studies together. He was an asshole then and afterwards.

Mar. 05 2014 01:09 PM
Mick from Inwood

I think it is important to emphasize even more strongly than Prof. Joseph did that self defense in the context of the Jim Crow era USA that Stokely Carmichael faced was a response to actual threats from both from law enforcement which was committed to upholding the dominant, racist status quo and from right wing thugs like the KKK that included actual lynchings, like the murders of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman. The right wing "2nd Amendment" enthusiasts face no such actual threats, especially in the areas there they are usually found. They live in survivalist fantasies of Red Dawn invasions and Obama Communists who want to steal their daughters.

Mar. 05 2014 12:04 PM
Anonymous from Upper East Side

So John I assume you have met EVERY African American in the Country? How are you showing your intelligence by making such grand sweeping stereotypical comments? So ignorant. As if it needed saying, it's not true.

Mar. 05 2014 11:56 AM
Cilla from Yonkers

To call Stokely Carmichael a leader of the Black Panther Party is misleading to say the least. As a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he worked in rural Alabama to found the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, whose purpose was to give newly enfranchised Black voters an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties. The group's symbol on the electoral ballot was a black panther, so many called it the Black Panther Party. It was not the same as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which sprang up later in Oakland, California. In later years, this Black Panther Party and SNCC negotiated a merger, but it lasted for only a short time, and Stokely had no part in the merger negotiations. I would suggest that people interested in this man's inspiring life read not only Professor Joseph's book but also Stokely Carmichael's autobiography, Ready for Revolution, based on manuscripts and many hours of tape recordings that he left behind.

Mar. 05 2014 11:49 AM
john from office

Sadly african americans always follow and admire the least educated most politically immature so-called "leaders". To call this man an intellectual is laughable.

Mar. 05 2014 11:44 AM
miriam Toure from new york

I knew Stokely Carmichael, growing up in Guinea he was a close friend of my dad. I never really knew how great of a man or activist he was until I moved to the US. I remember him as being an extremely fascinating and charismatic man.

Mar. 05 2014 11:43 AM
Marco from New York

Sadly he eventually became so embittered that he blamed his fatal prostate cancer on "imperialists."

Mar. 05 2014 11:35 AM

I once saw Stokely Carmichael in attendance at a speech given by Louis Farrakhan. I found this surprising given Farrakhan’s fierce opposition to Malcolm X at the time of Malcolm’s death and the fact that Carmichael had been a great admirer of Malcolm X.

Did Carmichael remain a supporter of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam up until the time of his death?

Mar. 05 2014 08:25 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.