Black Power 50: A New Companion to Schomburg’s Anniversary Exhibit

This post is part of a blog series I am editing, which announces the release of selected new works in African American and African Diaspora History.  Black Power 50, a new companion to Schomburg’s Anniversary Exhibit was recently published by The New Press.


diouf_sylvianeThe co-editors of Black Power 50 are Sylviane A. Diouf and Komozi Woodard. Sylviane A. Diouf is a historian of the African Diaspora and the curator and the director of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York. She is the author of Slavery’s Exiles, Servants of Allah, and Dreams of Africa in Alabama, which received the Wesley-Logan Prize from the American Historical Association and the Sulzby Award from the Alabama Historical Association. Diouf is a recipient of the Rosa Parks Award, the Dr. Betty Shabazz Achievement Award, and the Pen and Brush Achievement Award. She is the editor of Fighting the Slave Trade: West African Strategies (Ohio University Press) and the co-editor of In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience (National Geographic). She has written books for children on African history and American slavery. Kings and Queens of West Africa, part of a four-book series, won the African Studies Association 2001 Africana Book Award for Older Readers. Her illustrated book Bintou’s Braids has been translated into French and Portuguese.

Komozi Woodard is a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of A Nation Within a Nation; and the editor of The Black Power Movement, Part I; Freedom North; GroundworkWant to Start a Revolution? and Women in the Black Freedom Struggle. He studies African American history, politics, and culture, emphasizing the Black Freedom Movement, women in the Black Revolt, US urban and ethnic history, public policy and persistent poverty, oral history, and the experience of anti-colonial movements. He is a reviewer for American Council of Learned Societies, adviser to the Algebra Project and the PBS documentaries, Eyes on the Prize II and America’s War on Poverty, and sits on the board of directors for the Urban History Association.

black power 50

The fully illustrated companion to a major exhibit at New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a sweeping fiftieth-anniversary retrospective of Black Power in America and around the world

Black Power burst onto the world scene in 1966 with ideas, politics, and fashion that opened the eyes of millions of people across the globe. In the United States, the movement spread like wildfire: high school and college youth organized black student unions; educators created black studies programs; Black Power conventions gathered thousands of people from all walks of life; and books, journals, bookstores, and publishing companies spread Black Power messages and imagery throughout the country and abroad.

The Black Arts Movement inspired the creation of some eight hundred black theaters and cultural centers, where a generation of writers and artists forged a new and enduring cultural vision.

Black Power 50 includes original interviews with key figures from the movement, essays from today’s leading Black Power scholars, and over one hundred stunning images, offering a beautiful and compelling introduction to this pivotal movement.

 “An educational, eye opening experience.” —Kirkus Reviews


Ibram X. Kendi: What type of impact do you hope Black Power 50 has on the existing historiography of Black Power? Where do you think the field is headed and why?  

Komozi Woodard: Black Power 50 is in three parts: 1) an online exhibit at the Schomburg Center for Research and Culture, 2) a series of forums in Harlem, and 3) a companion book that serves as a catalogue, marking fifty years since the legendary Stokely Carmichael introduced the Black Power experiments in self-emancipation with that slogan in June 1966. The book provides an overview of the Black Power Movement, and more specifically it includes testimonies by veterans of the Black Revolt such as Emory Douglass, Maulana Karenga, Erika Huggins, Kathleen Cleaver, Cha Cha Jimenez and so forth. Furthermore, Black Power scholars examine critical dimensions of that era: the Black Arts Movement; the political prisoners; the international aspects; education for liberation; and range of performances that flowered in the struggle for black identity. Unfortunately, some students may think that the story of Black Power begins and ends with one organization, the Black Panther Party headquartered in Oakland, California.

Students will learn of the critically important range of Black Power from Malcolm X and the OAAU to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and RAM to the Los Angeles organization Us, the Republic of New Afrika (RNA), the Young Lords, the African Liberation Support Committee, the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), and the Black Women’s United Front (BWUF) and so on. Above all, the images of Black Power are striking from the photo of Malcolm X and Mohammad Babu in Tanzania in East Africa to photos of dozens of women articulating Black Liberation from Oakland to Newark.

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Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi is Professor of History and International Relations and the Founding Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. His second book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation, 2016), won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a New York Times Best Seller. Follow him on Twitter @DrIbram.