Negro Power Struggle

February 21, 1968

Report Outline
Changing Tenor of The Negro Protest
Currents and Conflicts in Power Drive
Future of the Black Power Movement

Changing Tenor of The Negro Protest

Almost overnight “Black Power!” has supplanted “Freedom Now!” as the rallying cry of Negro militancy. With the new slogan, the mood and possibly the direction of the Negro rights movement have undergone profound change. Leaders who demonstrated and went to jail for integration have begun to reject fellow-protesters who are white. The immediate goal now centers less on civil rights law and more on costly anti-poverty measures. The power base of the movement has moved out from the college campus, which supplied the manpower for the lunch counter sit-ins of the early 1960s, to include millions of angry poor in big city ghettos.

The most striking change has been the increase of violence and the threat of more bloodshed to come. Only a few extremists in the rights movement advocate violence as a direct tactic to gain their objectives. But non-violence in the face of provocation has lost its charm for many who once remained passive in the face of insults and physical abuse. And even those who still uphold the creed of passive resistance warn that violence inevitably follows when grievances of the disadvantaged are disregarded.

After three summers of riots, escalating in number and severity, vulnerable cities are making extensive preparations for riot control in the summer of 1968. Coupled with threats of Negro extremists to burn down the cities, warlike arming and training of local police forces suggests the imminence of a second Civil War. In a report on both black power threats and police planning, published in the current issue of Esquire, the author concludes that a second Civil War has already begun, though it is still only a cold war, a war of nerves. “The threats of police blitzkrieg on the one side, of guerrilla terrorism on the other, are reaching that ‘unthinkable’ stage which made atomic weapons …maintain the world peace throughout the Fifties.” The possibility of white vigilante attacks on Negroes, or white pressure on police to over-react to riot threats, was viewed as the chief danger.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
African Americans and the Civil Rights Movement
Jul. 22, 2022  Black Hairstyles
Nov. 15, 1985  Black America Long March for Equality
Aug. 12, 1983  Black Political Power
Jan. 18, 1980  Black Leadership Question
Aug. 15, 1973  Black Americans, 1963–1973
Nov. 26, 1969  Racial Discrimination in Craft Unions
Sep. 11, 1968  Black Pride
Feb. 21, 1968  Negro Power Struggle
Mar. 08, 1967  Negroes in the Economy
Jan. 19, 1966  Changing Southern Politics
Oct. 27, 1965  Negroes in the North
Jul. 21, 1965  Negro Revolution: Next Steps
Oct. 14, 1964  Negro Voting
Sep. 21, 1964  Negroes and the Police
Jul. 03, 1963  Right of Access to Public Accommodations
Jan. 23, 1963  Negro Jobs and Education
Mar. 25, 1960  Violence and Non-Violence in Race Relations
Aug. 05, 1959  Negro Employment
Apr. 18, 1956  Racial Issues in National Politics
Apr. 18, 1951  Progress in Race Relations
Dec. 17, 1948  Discrimination in Employment
Jan. 10, 1947  Federal Protection of Civil Liberties
Aug. 25, 1944  The Negro Vote
Jul. 01, 1942  Racial Discrimination and the War Effort
Mar. 25, 1939  Civil and Social Rights of the Negro
Jul. 22, 1927  Disenfranchisement of the Negro in the South
Civil Rights Movement
Civil Rights: African Americans
Protest Movements