Power and the Black Community: A Reader on Racial Subordination in the United States

By Sethard Fisher | Go to book overview

22. Tuskegee, Alabama:
The Politics of Deference

In contrast to the emergence of the "politics of deference" among black Americans, Carmichael and Hamilton suggest politics of "black power." Their study of Tuskegee illustrates very well the dynamics of white resistance once substantial gains by blacks become Imminent. The Idea of "black power" represents an alternative course of political development in areas with large black populations. This alternative, they suggest, should be fully and consciously developed by blacks. It Is implied that by this means major and stable Increments of needed power by blacks, power less susceptible to traditional tactics of white resistance, could be achieved. Although this article does not deal with the question of the politics of black minorities, it clearly has relevance for many areas of the South where blacks remain today large dispossessed majorities.


STOKELY CARMICHAEL AND
CHARLES V. HAMILTON

The town of Tuskegee, in Macon County, Alabama, is undoubtedly one of the most significant areas in the history of the black man in this country. People throughout the world know Tuskegee as the home base of Booker T. Washington, from 1881 to his death in 1915. He founded Tuskegee Institute in 1881 and he was widely acclaimed as the leader of black people during that period. Dr. George Washington Carver, the scientist, became a second great name; his accomplishments in the Tuskegee Institute science laboratory with peanuts and sweet potatoes made him internationally known and respected at a time when most whites and many blacks knew nothing of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter and other black intellectuals of that day. In 1924, the nation's first, all-black‐ staffed Veterans' Administration Hospital was established at Tuskegee, bringing to the county a wealth of educational and medical talent. During World War II, Tuskegee was the site of the first training base for black Air Force pilots. Then, in 1958, it became the first community to be investigated by the United States Commission on Civil Rights, set up under the 1957 Civil Rights Act.

____________________
From Black Power ( 1967), pp. 122-145; reprinted by permission of Vintage Books.

-328-

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