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Carmichael, Stokelylocked

(29 June 1941–15 November 1998)
  • Dennis Wepman

Extract

Carmichael, Stokely (29 June 1941–15 November 1998), civil rights leader, was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies, the son of Adolphus Carmichael, a carpenter, and Mabel (also listed as May) Charles Carmichael, a steamship line stewardess and domestic worker. When he was two, his parents immigrated to the United States with two of their daughters. He was raised by two aunts and a grandmother and attended British schools in Trinidad, where he was exposed to a colonial view of race that he was later to recall with anger. He followed his parents to Harlem at the age of eleven and the next year moved with them to a relatively prosperous neighborhood in the Bronx, where he became the only African-American member of the Morris Park Dukes, a neighborhood gang. But although he participated in the street life of the gang, he had more serious interests. “They were reading funnies,” he recalled in an interview in 1967, “while I was trying to dig Darwin and Marx” (quoted in Parks, p. 80). A good student, he was accepted in the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. When he graduated in 1960 he was offered scholarships to several white universities, but a growing awareness of racial injustice led him to enroll in predominantly black Howard University in Washington, D.C. Impressed by the television coverage of the protesters at segregated lunch counters in the South, he had already begun to picket in New York City with members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) before he entered college in the fall of 1960....

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