The Watts riot and those that followed in the summers of 1966 and 1967 displayed the rage of millions of black Americans for whom the early civil rights movement had little effect, except, perhaps, to raise their expectations. This rage sprouted from a society pervaded by racism and social and economic inequality. The riots themselves were often sparked by an incident or alleged incident involving the police, who routinely violated the rights of blacks. Until Watts exploded, the voice of those who took part in the rioting had largely gone unheard. Even the major civil rights organizations had spoken little on the concerns of the urban ghetto dweller in the North. With the riots, however, a new set of figures and organizations emerged with the goal of articulating the demands of the urban black masses.
The riots and emergence of a strong black nationalist movement represented a new stage in the modern civil rights movement. Activists adopted a more militant tone and constructed a critique of society that called for more than living up to America's ideals. Under the heading "Black Power," this chapter presents a glimpse at some of the different black power advocates and groups of the 1960s. While reading the selections, it is important to consider what produced the renaissance of black nationalism in the second-half of the 1960s. What was the relationship between the early civil rights movement and the latter? Was black power a natural byproduct of the early years? Or did it mark a dramatic change? In addition, the reader should keep in mind that black power was not a monolith. Differences over the relative significance of politics, culture, and economics and over more concrete immediate issues kept black radicals from forging a united movement. Whether a more effective leader, such as Malcolm X had he lived,