Portland State College. Division of Social Science
Term of Graduation
Date of Publication
Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in Social Science
African Americans -- Civil rights
1 online resource (71 pages)
Black Americans have entered a new phase in the Civil Rights Movement. First they struggled for their legal rights. Then they struggled for equality, which meant integration and implementation of their legal rights. Now they struggle for power--"black power".
"Black power" is a metaphor which became part of the English language less than two years ago. Because of its newness, it has not been clearly defined nor its purposes clarified and evaluated. This paper is A Clarification and Evaluation of Black Power.
Black power serves as a rallying call for unity and self-help among black people. But the words are more than a slogan. They stand for a mood and a program. The mood is one of worthiness--black is good, black is -- the inferiority of past generations. The program, although not well defined or organized, has three types of goals. They are cultural, economic, and political. The basic cultural goal is unity. The basic economic goal is to raise the black standard of living. Control or rightful share of control is the basic political goal.
The masses of Black America are engaged in this Struggle for Power. They have lived through a "revolution of expectations". Now they want tangible results. They want socio-economic gains, including, better jobs, housing, and education.
They now believe the best way to achieve these ends is to work together as a group, not separately as individuals. They feel they were oppressed as a group, so they must leave the oppression as a group. As the group closes ranks, it is accused of racism and escapism. Actually, the separatism, which blacks are now advocating, is a realistic solution to a pluralistic society.
Violent action and/or the threat of violent action are very real forces in America today. The ideology of black power does not call for this violence, but some of the advocates do. They see violence as a means to an end. It is unfortunate that black power has become so closely linked with violence, since this tends to mitigate its constructive value. The ideology and practice of black power needs to be clarified and evaluated, not by an academic, but by black people. The time for ambiguity is past. Black people need to define their goals. Then they need to organize their individual strengths into group action. A united Black America, with strong leadership and organization, may well be able to raise its standard of living and seize its rightful first class citizenship.
The ideology and practice of black power does offer to black people an opportunity to raise their standard of living. Perhaps more important, however, black power allows black people to think well of themselves, which is, of course, psychologically healthy.
Time may prove me wrong, but this writer feels history will pass a favorable judgment on the Struggle for Power--Black Power.
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Olson, Beverly Jo, "A Clarification and Evaluation of Black Power" (1968). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 501.