Stokely Carmichael
By: Joshua Glenn | Categories: Activism, HiLo Heroes


After the disillusioning Democratic convention of 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee split into two factions, one of which favored nonviolent tactics and integration-oriented policies. The other, increasingly revolutionary faction was led by STOKELY CARMICHAEL (1941-98), a Trinidadian-born activist newly graduated from Howard with a philosophy degree; the era we know as the Sixties (1964-73, IMHO) began at this moment. (To be even more precise: The Sixties began at the ’64 Newport Jazz Festival, when Carmichael and his friend Abbie Hoffman were beaten up by the police.) Influenced by Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon, Carmichael called for black Americans “to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations”; the Civil Rights Movement’s unintended function, he claimed, was to integrate blacks more securely into America’s invisible prison-state. His anti-anti-utopian vision of Black Power finally led Carmichael out of SNCC and out of the United States — he relocated to Guinea, and changed his name to Kwame Touré. For the rest of his life, he invariably answered the telephone with the same greeting: “Ready for the revolution!”

MORE ACTIVISTS: Mother Jones | Alexander Berkman | Eugene V. Debs | Tina Modotti | Big Bill Haywood | Lucy Stone | Antônio Conselheiro | Emmeline Pankhurst | Félix Fénéon | Meridel Le Sueur | Pierre-Joseph Proudhon | Zo d’Axa | Mikhail Bakunin | Voltairine de Cleyre | Emma Goldman | Will Allen | Rosa Luxemburg | Simone de Beauvoir | Émile Henry | Pancho Villa | Joe Hill | Margaret Sanger | Aldo Leopold | Screaming Lord Sutch | Nestor Makhno | Dorothy Day | Garry Kasparov | Adriano Olivetti | Mildred Harnack | Frederick Douglass | Murray Bookchin | George Orwell | Bayard Rustin | Abbie Hoffman | Ti-Grace Atkinson | Gloria Steinem | Rudolf Rocker | Stokely Carmichael | Angela Davis


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | Breece D’J Pancake | Antoine de Sainte-Exupery |

READ MORE about the Anti-Anti-Utopian Generation (1934-43).



Joshua Glenn is a cultural and brand semiotician, and co-principal of the agency SEMIOVOX LLC. He is editor and publisher of HILOBROW and the Radium Age sci-fi paperback imprint HILOBOOKS. He is author of (with Mark Kingwell and the cartoonist Seth) THE IDLER'S GLOSSARY (2008) and THE WAGE SLAVE'S GLOSSARY (2011); and he is co-editor of the object-oriented story collections TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY (2007) and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS (2012). With Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone, Josh produced the popular family activities guides UNBORED (2012), UNBORED GAMES (2014), and UNBORED ADVENTURE (2015), not to mention two UNBORED activity kits from MindWare. In the ’00s, Josh was an editor and columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE's IDEAS section; in the ’90s, he published the high-lowbrow zine/journal HERMENAUT. He was born and raised in Boston, where he lives with his wife and sons.