Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Back in college I was a member of a Pan-African organization, founded in part by a leading charismatic Civil Rights and Black Power movement figure, Stokely Carmichael. Carmichael is probably most remembered for popularizing the radical slogan "Black Power," during the sixties As a member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, Carmichael organized and marched with Martin Luther King and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He later became Honorary Minister of the Black Panther Party.

    During college, I and other organizers met Carmichael on several occasions when we arranged for him to speak on our campus. Years before then, he changed his name to Kwame Turé, out of his respect for Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, and Sekou Touré, president Guinea. He had the opportunity to meet, learn from, and work with both of these revolutionary leaders before they died. His work in Africa lead him to leave the Panther Party and establish the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party. In 1981 I became a member of that party.

    What Kwamé and others attempted to establish in the A-APRP was the importance of political education, for the purposes of building dedicated Pan-African political cadre. That education process–not indoctrination–had the most important influence on my life as a student back then. As part of a work-study group, I and a group of other students of African descent, read and studied from a list of about about 20 political books, by authors including W.E.B Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Karl Marx, Nkrumah, Turé, Rosa Luxemburg, Ho Chi Minh, Amil Cabral, Eric Williams, author of *Capitalism and Slavery*, Malcolm X, and many others. We met religiously every two weeks as a study group (reading 70 pages for every meeting.) We used what we studied and learned to bring about political awareness to other students, especially students of African descent. Back then we referred to ourselves and other Black students as "Africans."

    The party was never centered around Kwamé. He was just one of its leaders on the Coordinating Committee. However, he was the Party's national spokesperson, known and respected throughout the world.

    My most memorable time in the party is when he stayed at my apartment overnight after speaking on campus. My work-study group was still fairly young back then, and so when we brought him over to spend the night, I remember how we all sat in the small living room--he and a few others in chairs or on the sofa, and the rest of us on the floor. It was late afternoon. The evening news was on television, but all of us were tongued tied as we sat with him. But Kwamé was a people's activist. He didn't appear to have an elitist bone in his body. It was difficult to know what to say to a man who had faced the violence of White racism in the South, who had been denied entry back into his own land of birth, Trinidad, and who worked with thousands of people in the Civil Rights, Black Power, and anti-war movement.

    As we all sat watching television, timid about what we should say to him, he graciously broke the ice by commenting on a news item on tv. What he said I don't remember now, but it made us all laugh. Gradually we began talking to him about our local work in the Party and asked him questions about his experiences in the movement. He respected us as we respected him. We were all members of the same Party with the same goal of liberating and uniting Africa under a socialist political economy.

    Those are still lofty goals for the continent, and Kwamé died in 1998 seeing those objectives no where near met. But for me personally, I don't regret a moment being a member of the party. I and others gained the type of political consciousness that we would never had gotten anywhere else in the world.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.