A Critical Assessment of Black Power from the Black Press, 1969


Black students have had sensational success in forcing high school and college administrators to bow to their will. Especially is this so with respect to Black Studies as a constituent part of the academic curriculum.

Though they had to resort to strenuous means to enforce their demands, the goal toward which they expended their youthful energy has been reached. Thus, American history has been advanced one more peg of identity and affirmation.

But, what of the black power movement? Is it dwindling into chaos and nothingness? One of the movement's hampering weaknesses is a lack of unity and programmatic design. Too many leaders with different catechism and different philosophical out- look are speaking for the movement.

Outside its college campus manifestation, black power is protruding itself pretty convincingly in the political arena. Here, a consolidation of the black vote has been able to translate the racial struggle into positive accomplishment. The election of a black mayor in Gary, which was followed by the election of a black mayor in Cleveland, are both triumphs of a black unity whose pattern of action may be repeated elsewhere in the United States.

Metropolitan public opinion is growing weary of a black movement that has neither definition nor social polarization. The economics of the idea has been adjudged impractical and unrealizable by reputable economists. Black economic power is a fantasy at this juncture. The Negro's financial status is too limited at best to enable him to stand alone or as entrepreneur in a big-scale operation.

The only sector on which black power is forging ahead is on the political front. Though they ascend the political ladder of power through a coalition of the black vote, successful black politicians wisely avoid any reference to black power.

The reason for their silence is obvious. They didn't come to power through the black vote alone. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that those successful Negro candidates could not have won without some white support.

The movement is falling apart because its advocacy of separatism puts it in an irreconcilable conflict with the crusade for civil rights, and because it has alienated an important segment of the Negro population and scores of influential white liberals who were committed to the idea that only through integration can America's racial dilemma be solved. . . .