Interview with Stokley Carmichael

You're now a role model in the late '60s, in some ways as opposed to Dr. King. What are you saying that he's not that they identify with?


I'm not sure there's what I'm saying that he is not, in terms of these youth identifying, I think it's more the reaction of the white establishment to King. No one who truly understands the struggle can in any way fault King. King really comes out almost perfect, perfection. Of course his political errors are to be understood. But I mean in terms of his commitment, in terms of his total love. In terms of his total dedication to the struggle, one can find no shortcomings here. But unfortunately the system had learned how to contain nonviolent demonstrations. Having learned how to contain them, it was not necessary for them to respond to them. Thus, King was not failing as much as the white establishment was no longer responding to him, having now thought that they could contain him. Alternative methods were therefore necessary. So, that shift which appeared to be coming from King towards me was not because of me or King, was because nonviolence really was reaching an impasse, see, an impasse. And since King was so nonviolent as a philosophy, it must be all times, he could no longer change it. I remember very carefully in Chicago, and if you have the film it would be powerful if you showed it, after the Chicago rebellions there, he said, and I never, on national TV, if every, and this is his quote, "If every negro in America becomes violent, I, Martin Luther King shall remain nonviolent." So here you could see clearly the shift was not King but that this policy which had reached an impasse, the alternative policy, if by any means necessary, was what was attracting the people more than what was being said over King.


OK great.