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Stokely: A Life

Narrated by: Mirron Willis
Length: 15 hrs and 23 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for "Black Power" during a speech one humid Mississippi night in 1966. Carmichael’s life changed that day, and so did America’s struggle for civil rights. "Black Power" became the slogan of an era, provoking a national reckoning on race and democracy.

In Stokely, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph presents a groundbreaking biography of Carmichael, arguing that the young firebrand’s evolution from nonviolent activist to Black Power revolutionary reflected the trajectory of a generation radicalized by the violence and unrest of the late 1960s. Fed up with the slow progress of the civil rights movement, Carmichael urged blacks to turn the rhetoric of freedom into a reality, inspiring countless African Americans to demand immediate political self-determination. A nuanced and authoritative portrait, Stokely captures the life of the man whose uncompromising vision reshaped the struggle for African American equality.

©2014 2014 by Peniel E. Joseph (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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Great Book

Great Book about man of principles that core believes that never weavied regardless of advertity an example to humanity

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Profile Image for Adam Shields
  • Adam Shields
  • 20-07-20

Black Power icon

After reading Peniel Joseph’s excellent joint biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, I picked up his biography of Stokely Carmichael, mostly because it was on sale. I had heard of the name of Stokely Carmichael, but little else. Like many, his is an incredible story. It is hard to get over how young he was for the main part of his civil rights career. He started working nearly full time as a civil rights activist through NAG (during the school year at Howard) and for SNCC during the summers in Mississippi and Alabama. He was first arrested during the Freedom Rides before he turned 20. At Howard, he was mentored by Bayard Rustin and many of his professors, including Toni Morrison, who later became his editor. After graduating in 1964, he moved to Mississippi and began working on voting rights projects through SNCC. He quickly became the project director in Mississippi and then in 1965 moved to Lowndes County Alabama. It was during this point when his organization started using a black panther as its mascot. Only a year later, Stokely Carmichael, at just 25, became the head of SNCC. Carmichael was clearly a gifted speaker and organizer. He kept SNCC funded primarily through his speaking fees. Because he was dependent on those fees to pay the staff and fund the organizing, Stokely spent a lot of time speaking at predominately White colleges which could afford higher fees. The struggle to fund black-led organizations is not new and even for someone known for his Black power stance he faced the struggle of both a desire to work with Whites and a desire to be a Black-led and Black-oriented organization. A number of issues led to his short tenure. There was a struggle to keep SNCC oriented toward a unified goal during an era of changing priorities in the Civil Rights movement. He also does not seem to have been a great administrator and his fame and name recognition also created both opportunities, jealousy, and self-centeredness. At the same time, the FBI targeted him in their COINTELPRO operation. His outspokenness against the Vietnam war, which was earlier than most in the Civil Rights movement, was controversial inside and outside of SNCC. After the end of his time at SNCC, he moved toward the Black Panther Party. Within a year of leaving SNCC, MLK, Jr. was assassinated, Black Panthers were strained, both because of ideological difference and because of problems with FBI informants. Carmichael began spending more time out of the country visiting Africa and becoming more oriented toward the pan-African movement. Fred Hampton and other Black Panthers were killed by police in 1969 and Carmichael from that point primarily lived outside of the US. In 1968 he married Miriam Makeba, a well-known singer, songwriter, and actress. Their marriage alienated her White audience which made their move to Africa less financially harmful since her audience was now largely in Africa. They divorced in 1974. While Carmichael continued to speak and write and influence those in the US, his connections to increasingly authoritarian African leaders left him alienated from many. He helped to found the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, changed his name to Kwame Ture and continued to work toward pan-African freedom. Kwame Ture died of cancer in 1998 at the age of 57. Most of the last 30 years were far less influential than his very active and influentials 20s. Peniel Joseph is not writing hagiography, Carmichael was brilliant, talented, and flawed. He was at times known as ‘Starmichael’ because of his ego while at SNCC. At the same time, he expanded the work on the civil rights movement, brought attention to the Vietnam war as an aspect of the civil rights movement, and drew together organizers in a variety of movements to work together. But also ended up driving some away with his radical rhetoric. Stokely: A Life filled in a lot of holes in my civil rights era knowledge as well as highlighted the importance of both shared ideology and methodology while organizing and the importance of working across lines for shared goals.

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  • Bogenbroom
  • 28-01-18

Worst reading I have heard

The content was quite good. The reader mispronounced a lot of words and sounded almost like a robot. I was tempted to return the book just due to the performance, but decided against it because of the story.

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  • Robert Newby
  • 01-03-16

Outstanding bio

Peniel Joseph has done an excellent job of telling the story of Stokely Carmichael's life. He summarizes the Carmichael was third iconic leader of the Movement along with Malcolm and King. From his politics being shaped in NY to Howard to SNCC.to the Panthers to Africa and beyond, it's all there. Joseph contextualizes his transitions so well.

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  • Douglas Stewart
  • 20-09-20

Stokely was great.

I was so disappointed when it was over. Every chapter was perfect. The narrator was wonderful and captivating. He spoke about Stokely in an endearing way which was true. He described exactly correct how Stokely went from continent to continent avoiding the Secret Service, FBI etc. Everyone should read this. I invited him to the class I was teaching Black.Political Thought. He was genuinely happy to come and did with 2 bodyguards. After we reminisced about the SNCC days it seemed the entire campus found out I brought him. He answered their questions gave the autographs etc. I knew he had to get away as the entire FBI was trying to get to him for years. My students were thrilled even the white students. He spoke like President Obama. No one could resist his love of this country. He took a chance and I became guilty having invited him to class. Later I called him to thank him. He laughed when I told him the white students were much more open and liberal.

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  • Paul Prosper
  • 25-09-18

An unsung hero.

Loved it. His story and influence needs to be told to the masses Great book!

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  • karen hickman
  • 29-12-17

exceptionally detailed a

A brilliant review of dedication and love for his people. A story to be remembered.

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  • Jordan Brooks
  • 09-02-17

Black Power

so many lessons for the young organizer. the personal and political struggle is one to learn from

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Profile Image for Lawrence
  • Lawrence
  • 09-08-16

loved this book

this was truly an amazing read I really learned alot great read can't wait for the next title