Stokely Carmichael was born on June 29, 1941, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. As a toddler Carmichael’s parents immigrated to New York, entrusting him to the care of his grandmother. At the age of eleven Carmichael joined his parents in America, Carmichael’s parents worked hard, long hours to provide for their family, Carmichael's father, Adolphus, was a carpenter as well as a taxi driver, Carmichael’s mother, Mabel worked on a steamship line as a stewardess. Carmichael’s parents worked hard in the hopes of living the American dream, the same dream that Carmichael would later despise as he saw it as a form of social and economic oppression. Later in life Carmichael was quoted saying “My old man believed in this work-and-overcome stuff. He was religious, never lied, never cheated or stole. He did carpentry all day and drove taxis all night and the next thing that came to that poor black man was death from working too hard. And he was only in his 40’s.” ("Stokely Carmichael Biography").
Earning citizenship in the United States at the age of 13, Carmichael and his family migrated from the city to a predominantly Italian and Jewish neighborhood called Morris Park, located in the Bronx, New York. Carmichael succeeded academically, earning a place in the Bronx High School of Science, a prestigious institution that contained the cream of the crop from New York City’s white population. During his time in high school Carmichael began to make observations about the hegemony between whites and other race groups in the school, as well as become aware of the social hierarchy that existed in the school system. Politics began to intrigue Carmichael as he observed the civil rights movement on television, Carmichael would come to befriend a man names Gene Davis, a communist who often attended Communist league meetings and rally demonstrations; friendship with Davis and exposure to communist ideals and politics would later influence Carmichael's philosophies and opinions (Churcher 3). Carmichael began to closely observe the injustices of racism during the civil rights movement and joined a group called the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), that he traveled with to sit-ins in South Carolina and Virginia, as well as picketing a store in New York ("Stokely Carmichael Biography").
Despite receiving scholarship offers from many different, well-recognized, white universities, Stokely decided to attend Howard University, a historical black college university in Washington, DC. Carmichael joined a group called the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), which embraced the philosophies of Martin Luther King. A philosophy major, Carmichael studied the works and lives of Santayana, Camus, Sartre, Santayana, and Martin Luther King Jr. as a source of information to assist him in his fight against issues brought up by the civil rights movement. Carmichael joined a group called the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG), which embraced the philosophies of Martin Luther King (Churcher 3). Carmichael was very passionate about the cause of the civil rights movement, attending his first Freedom Ride as a freshman in 1961. This ride was comprised of both whites and blacks seeking reform in the south, during the civil rights movement. Carmichael was arrested for his first time during this freedom ride in Jackson, Mississippi for waiting in an designated “whites only” bus stop room, this offense earned him a jail sentence of 49 days. Carmichael would not let this incident set him back and continued to participate in civil right movement activities such as a demonstration in Georgia, workers strike in New York, as well as another Freedom Ride in Maryland.
In 1964 Carmichael graduated from Howard University with honors. Carmichael then joined a group called the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that encouraged black voters in the Deep South to register and vote. Carmichael used the tools he developed as a member of the NAG and became an appointed...
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