Did Black Power Birth Obama?Breaking News
April 4, 2008—The 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 slaying in Memphis—provoked endless conversations about the way forward for black politics and whether it was King who truly prepared the nation to elect Barack Obama as the first black president. This year, the topic has moved beyond musings about what is possible for African Americans in the American political system, to the more controversial question: Just who deserves the credit for Obama’s decisive, historic victory?
It was one of the most provocative topics at a conference presented this week by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. And though the event was convened in the days before the anniversary of the King assassination, the topic of discussion was not the civil rights movement which King so embodies, but rather the black power movement.
The symposium brought together 1968 veterans Amiri Baraka, Kathleen Cleaver, Charles Cobb Jr. and Sonia Sanchez to discuss the impact of the black power movement on America. In one of the more dynamic roundtable discussions on politics, King’s name scarcely came up. Rather, Ronald Walters, a professor at the University of Maryland and a veteran black political activist, reminded listeners that “there were two post civil rights movements.” The nonviolent, conciliatory approach that brought King martyrdom, he said, still overshadows the more confrontational forces that barricaded buildings, condemned government and radicalized thousands of blacks in the 1960s. And the more militant movement, Walters and other panelists argued convincingly, deserves as much credit for priming America for Barack Obama as the peaceful protest marches mainstream that Americans are much more comfortable embracing.
comments powered by Disqus
- At Brandis the Afro-American studies faculty is siding with student protesters
- NYT's Notable Books of 2015: These are the history books that made the cut
- Petition signed by 44,000 to add more female thinkers to the Politics A Level syllabus in the UK
- Most Students Have No Clue What Accurate Native American History Looks Like
- Historians Re-Enter Presidential Studies