Black Power was a revolutionary movement that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. It emphasized racial pride, economic empowerment, and the creation of political and cultural institutions. During this era, there was a rise in the demand for black history courses, a greater embrace of African culture, and a spread of raw artistic expression displaying the realities of African Americans.
The origin of the first use of the term Black Power varies. Its roots can be traced to author Richard Wright’s non-fiction work Black Power, published in 1954, and in 1965, the Lowndes County [Alabama] Freedom Organization (LCFO) used the slogan “Black Power for black people” for its political candidates. But, it was not until 1966, when Black Power made it into the mainstream. During the Meredith March against Fear in Mississippi, Student Nonviolent Coordinating (SNCC) Chairman Stokely Carmichael rallied marchers by chanting “we want Black Power.”
This subject guide highlights records of Federal agencies and collections that related to the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The selected records contain information on various organizations, which include the Nation of Islam (NOI), Deacons for Defense and Justice, and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). It also includes records on several individuals, including Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Elaine Brown, Angela Davis, Fred Hampton, Amiri Baraka, and Shirley Chisholm. This subject guide is not meant to be exhaustive, but to provide guidance to researchers interested in the Black Power movement and its relation to the Federal government.
The records in this guide were created by Federal agencies, therefore, the topics included had some sort of interaction with the United States Government. This subject guide includes textual and electronic records, photographs, moving images, audio recordings, and artifacts. Records can be found at the National Archives at College Park, as well as various presidential libraries and regional archives throughout the country.
How to use this Subject Guide
Record descriptions usually consist of the following elements: record group number or collection title; series title with dates and National Archives Identifier (NAID); and related file units or items with NAID.
Each description NAID is linked to a description in the National Archives Catalog. Researchers should use the NAID link to find information on the records: creator(s), type(s) of archival materials, arrangement, scope and content note, access and use restrictions, extent, physical location of records, and contact information.
There is an exception with some of the selected records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ). This guide may only list the case file number due to the number of sections within each case. Please search the Catalog for NAIDs of each section.
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is an Islamic and black nationalist movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in 1930. Learn More
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was made up mostly of black college students who practiced peaceful, non-direct protest. After 1966 SNCC adopted a more militant approach. Learn more
The Black Panthers
The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was founded in 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. It was a revolutionary organization with an ideology of black nationalism, socialism, and armed self-defense. Learn more
The Deacons for Defense
The Deacons for Defense and Justice was founded in 1964 in Jonesboro, Louisiana to protect civil rights activists from the Ku Klux Klan.
Women in Black Power
African American women played an important and influential role in the Black Power movement. They held leadership roles in various black nationalist organizations, while at the same time fighting against the sexist ideologies of the male members.
The Black Arts Movement
The Black Arts Movement was a black nationalist expression of music, literature, drama, and the visual arts made up of black artists and intellectuals. Its participants shared many of the ideologies of black self-determination, and political beliefs espoused in Black Power. Learn more
Congressional Black Caucus
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) was established in 1971 to give a political voice to black Americans. It is made up of African American Congressmen and women who vow to bring political attention to issues of importance within the community. Learn more