Chicago Freedom Movement

Fulfilling the Dream

Stokely Carmichael

“As you know, right after the Meredith march, Dr, King and SCLC went into Chicago. Not unexpected. Walking down those Delta roads, we’d discussed how the movement would have to take on the Northern cities. I was quite naturally curious to see how well SCLC’s hit-and-run mobilization techniques from Selma and Birmingham would fare in the North. Chicago would be a serious test. The sheer scale of the city, its ethnic neighborhoods, its politics, the infamous Daley machine, the entrenched industrial capitalism. . . .

“On the other hand, SCLC’s Chicago project program exactly the opposite of ours: integration and something they called ‘open housing.’ The tactic: nonviolent marches into the surrounding ‘white ethnic’ suburbs, presumably to ‘open’ them up so inner-city blacks can move in? Hey, there are people already living there. Aye-yai-yai. I thought. Right issue, wrong approach, wrong strategy, wrong solution. I didn’t see what good could result, but honestly? I never, never expected the size and ferocity of the white response. It was ugly and you know very sad. Because it didn’t really have to happen at all.”

Stokely Carmichael with Ekwueme Michael Thelwell, Ready for Revolution: the Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael {Kwame Ture} (New York: Scribner, 2003), pp. 537-538

(Biographical note: Stokely Carmichael was leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; he was instrumental in developing the concept of “Black Power.” He was not a participant in the Chicago Freedom Movement.)

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