Black Power

There’s no frost outside to take pictures of today, and I haven’t cooked anything to write about either, so for this post I’m going to take you on a quick trip back to Chicago in 1966.

The picture below is from the Chicago Freedom Movement Rally in July 1966. At this time, around a quarter of Chicago’s population was black following the migration of African Americans from the South in order to find work and escape the brutal treatment of African Americans in the South. The civil rights movement was in full swing, especially in the South. In the mid-Sixties, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and its leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., were looking to bring the movement further north, and chose Chicago as a place to take the movement because of the good base of support as well as plenty of activists from both the black and white communities in Chicago. The city was also dealing with huge problems with racial discrimination in housing at the time. The campaign in the summer of 1966 was aimed at this problem, and demanded the end of slums in Chicago.

The SCLC was a civil rights organisation committed to non-violence in their protest. However, it was around this time that Black Power ideologies were creeping in to the freedom struggle as a whole. Where advocates of the nonviolent civil rights movement called for racial integration and harmony, Black Power advocates championed racial pride (although the line between integration and Black Power is fairly blurred; it would be wrong to say they are opposites). In general, Black Power ideologies were more associated with the use of violent methods to obtain freedom, as opposed to the nonviolent and patient protesting of the early civil rights movement.

This picture shows a pretty big turning point in the movement, as early Black Power advocates campaign for Black Pride and an end to the patient waiting for equal rights. While the SCLC was committed to non-violence, they were met in Chicago with a lot of violence, and the strategies of the movement as a whole were gradually adjusted as it tackled northern cities- it became more violent, and less patient.

Black Power at Chicago Freedom Movement Rally, July 1966

Picture from

A year later in 1967, Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions (if you don’t know who they are, Jahmene sang Mayfield’s song “Move On Up” in The X Factor final on Saturday) released their first overtly Black Power song “We’re a Winner”. When it was released, a lot of white radio stations wouldn’t play the song because they thought it might encourage rebellion in black communities. To end on a positive note, this is testament to me to how much times have changed- racism is still definitely around but the idea nowadays that this song could have been banned is crazy! Have a listen for yourself, you might quite like it.


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