GREENWOOD, Miss. — On Monday, February 25 at 10 a.m., the Mississippi Freedom Trail will unveil its latest marker at Broad Street Historical Park in Greenwood, Miss. The marker commemorates the legendary “Black Power” speech by Civil Rights activist Stokely Carmichael and the subsequent adoption of the term “Black Power” by activists and citizens alike. This is the tenth marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail.
“Mississippi and her people played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s,” said Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division. “The events that occurred in Greenwood in 1966 deserve the recognition that this Mississippi Freedom Trail marker offers. It also provides a valuable tool for educating future generations and commemorating our progress as a people.”
On June 16, 1966, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee chairman Stokely Carmichael, released from jail after defying City of Greenwood orders by putting up tents to house participants of the James Meredith “March Against Fear,” made his famous “Black Power” speech in Broad Street Historical Park. In front of an agitated crowd of roughly 600 people, Carmichael shouted five times, “We want black power!” The crowd became more and more enthusiastic. The popular slogan revealed a growing difference between the nationalist philosophy of SNCC and the more moderate stances of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The Mississippi Freedom Trail is a cultural initiative designed to commemorate the state’s Civil Rights heritage. The trail offers a virtual tour of the state and those sites that played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. Led by a task force of scholars, historians and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, MDA Tourism’s Bureau of Film and Cultural Heritage coordinated the taskforce’s work of selecting 25 initial sites for the trail from over 300 submissions from communities around the state.
The first four markers were funded with donations from Tougaloo College, MDA and local private and public contributions and were unveiled in conjunction with 2011’s Freedom 50th Foundation Reunion activities. The subsequent 25 markers are being funded through community funds and the 2010 Civil Rights Historic Sites Grant Program passed by the Mississippi Legislature (HB 1701) and administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.