Interview with Floyd McKissick

Okay, after Sterkley--as Stokely used the term Black Power in the speech at Greenwood, there was a lot of discussion about it. How did you feel about Black power? What did it mean to you?


Well I liked the expression and, ah, it's, it was not first time it's been used. It wasn't the first time that Stokely had used it. I had used the expression, I think, a, many, many people had used it. I think, Du Bois, Richard Wright certainly had used it. Ah, the expression of Black people getting their power. I think it was really, it, It scared people because they did not understand. They could not subtract pow--violence from power. They could only see power as a violent instrument** accompanying it. But when Stokely, at Greenwood I think, and, and every night just about, ah, the expression was used. Ah, in the last analysis it was a question of how Black power would be defined. And it was never really defined. We talked in CORE about constructive militancy as Black power and we defined Black power as having six salient points. And one of those points that we emphasized and we even emphasized on the march. Ah, as we would march, we, we would give the African cry for freedom. Ah, and many people were disturbed because they said, this is becoming too, ah, too much non-American. We, ah, are talking more, ah, we're going back to our roots too much and these kinds of thoughts were being and SNCC was talking about nationalism, ah, at that time. These were some of the, some of the fuzzy parts of the march of which some of the other national organizations objected to. And some of the minds of the organizations like Ron Karenga from California coming in and this was also the emergence out of this march emerged the Black Panthers and leadership that was coming in that were using so many new expressions. And of course Black Power was the one that got the fancy of the press.