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The Mississippi Delta and the Power of Place in the American Civil Rights Movement

Authors: Mary Truman*, Texas State University - San Marcos
Topics: Social Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Historical Geography
Keywords: Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights, Black Geographies, Black Power, Civil Rights History, Black History, Race, Place,
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

For this poster, I considered the events leading up to the introduction of the phrase "Black Power" in Greenwood, Mississippi by Stokely Carmichael and how the geographic location, the history of this region and the timing of Carmichael’s actions created a shift that would change the tone and the message of the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement had been evolving over time and during the 1960's was fueled by a call for “Freedom Now” which focused on an end to white supremacy, an end to the discrimination against black citizens, along with the implementation of equal rights. After over 10 years of peaceful protests, nonviolent sit-ins and rallies, very little change or progress had occurred. The “March Against Fear” began on 7 June, 1966 as a solo walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi by James Meredith. The purpose of this march was to show citizens in the south that blacks had no reason to fear violence from whites and to encourage black citizens to register to vote. After Meredith was shot by a white man only 20 miles into his march, Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael vowed to finish the walk in his name. While making their way through the Mississippi Delta, the marchers stopped for the night in Greenwood, Mississippi. On the night of 17 June, 1966 Stokely Carmichael introduced the phrase "Black Power" to a crowd of 3000.

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