Black Power! serves as another touchstone in the Schomburg’s “Black Power 50” focus, a yearlong examination into the 50th anniversary of the Black Power movement. Stokely Carmichael and fellow Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) worker Willie Ricks introduced Black Power as a concept in June 1966.
Black Power! is located in the newly-renovated Main Exhibition Hall. On display through December 2017, Black Power!will invite visitors to delve deeper into the heterogeneous and ideologically diverse global movement that shaped black consciousness and built an immense legacy of community organizing and advocacy that continues to resonate in the United States of America and around the world today. Visitors will also confront misconceptions and truths about the Black Power movement.
Black Power grew out of the political, economic, and racial reality of post-war America, when the possibilities of American democracy seemed unlimited. Black Power activists challenged American hegemony at home and abroad, demanded full citizenship, and vociferously criticized political reforms that at times substituted tokenism and style over substance. Some activists did this through a sometimes bellicose advocacy of racial separatism contoured by threats of civil unrest. Others sought equal access to predominantly white institutions, especially public schools, colleges, and universities, while many decided to build independent, black-led institutions designed to serve as new beacons for African-American intellectual achievement, political power, and cultural pride. Organized protests for Black Studies, efforts to incorporate the Black Arts Movement into independent and existing institutions, and the thrust to take control of major American cities through electoral strength exemplified these impulses.
The movement’s multifaceted organizations, from SNCC to the National Welfare Rights Organization, triggered revolutions in knowledge, politics, consciousness, art, public policy, and foreign affairs along lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality. It forced a re-examination of race, war, human rights, and democracy and inspired millions of global citizens to reimagine a world free of poverty, racism, sexism, and economic exploitation.
Highlights from the Black Power! exhibition include:
- Black Panther Coalition Flyer
A flyer capturing the efforts of the Black Panther Party, the Puerto Rican Young Lords, the white Young Patriots, the Chinese-American I Wor Kuen, and the Inmates Liberation Front united to demand the release of the Panther 21, who were arrested in April 1969 on suspicion of planning to bomb several sites in New York City.
- First Issue of The Black Panther
Bobby Seale and Elbert “Big Man” Howard published the first mimeographed issue of The Black Panther on April 25, 1967. Howard, an original member of the Black Panther Party, served as the publication’s first editor. ·
- Letter from Arab Women to Angela Davis
A letter of support to Angela Davis from The Arab Women’s League of Jordan, capturing how the fate of political prisoners in the United States received worldwide attention.
- Photo of Black Panthers in Israel
A photo of Black Panther Party Members in Israel who were part of the Mizrahi community: Jews from North Africa and the Middle East who denounced and fought against the economic and cultural domination of European Jews. Their leader wears a T-shirt reading Black Panthers in Hebrew.
See more images here Black Power!
About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. For over 90 years the Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of the history and culture of peoples of African descent. Educational and Cultural Programs at the Schomburg Center complement its research services and interpret its collections. Seminars, forums, workshops, staged readings, film screenings, performing arts programs, and special events are presented year-round. More information about Schomburg’s collections and programs can be found at www.schomburgcenter.org.
About the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.