SNCC 1960-1966: Six years of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Black PowerBlack Power was the guiding philosophy of SNCC in its later years. It began to develop and take hold sometime after 1964, and came to prominence in 1966 when Stokely Charmicael became head of the organization.

The goal of Black Power was to empower and create a strong racial identity for African-Americans. It glorified shared qualities such as dialect, physical attributes, and history. Black Power also encouraged a separation from white society, saying black people should write their own histories and form their own institutions, like credit unions and political parties. This empowered African-Americans by promoting feelings of beauty and self-worth and showing that they were strong enough to thrive without the support of white institutions.

The Black Power movement was controversial because it was considered anti-white. However, Black Power acknowledged that some white people had helped African-Americans to secure the right to vote, organize, protest and hand out leaflets. Conversely, Black Power said was now time for black people to fight for themselves. It was important to the African-American sense of self-worth at the time to see that justice could be sought and oppression fought without the assistance of whites.

African-Americans also needed an environment in which they could freely express their frustration with the current system of oppression. According to the philosophy of Black Power, this could environment did not exist in the presence of whites partly due to a long and continuing history of oppression.