Counter-storytelling was the centre of the life of Kwame Ture. A civil rights leader, theorist of race relations, and one of the founders of the Black Power movement, it cannot be overstated how important the Ture movement was to the creation of contemporary black identity. I would even argue that the Black Power movement (born of Ture) was of greater cultural significance for the Black consciousness than the passing of the Civil Rights Act. When Ture (then known as Carmichael) uttered “Black Power” and coined “institutional racism”, the consciousness expanded from legal matters to cultural and institutional issues (which are themselves an extension and reflection of culture). His works have inspired me to continue to push the boundaries of our civic discourse and have helped me to construct my own identity. Instead of seeing themselves as Americans who had been deprived of their rights until that time, they saw themselves as Africans living in a new world. As an immigrant, this has been a great help in resisting assimilation and establishing a selfsustained identity for both myself and my family. Much how I see myself as a Mexican living in American land, so did African Americans no longer see themselves as just “blacks” or Black- Americans but as Africans living in America. Ture fought long and hard to make his vision a reality, working overseas and cooperating with the Black Panther Party to create businesses and safe spaces (which I wish to emulate).
After Ture, to be black (or to be foreign) was no longer a simple accident of skin colour or history, but a meaningful membership in a community; not an arbitrary community, but one with noble traditions, vibrant culture, and a mission of justice. Without this cultural glue, without the imperative to fight not just legal racism but institutionalized racism as described by Ture, I believe that the Civil Rights Movement may have stalled after the Civil Rights Act passed. Now with an African and not just black identity, the civil rights movement expanded into the international sphere. Ture visited Africa many times and helped to establish the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and attempted to unify Africans across the world to push against Western neo-colonialism. Here the movement joined forces with groups of similar leanings. Of course, colonialism could also be found at home. Here too Ture greatly influenced the trajectory of the movement. Although his socialist ideals were and continue to be greatly controversial, by placing economic issues at the forefront of black liberation, he shifted the conversation on the African-Black struggle from one of individual repression and brutality to communal economic advancement. Many have called him a radical and a separatist, yet Stokely Carmichael, Kwame Ture, pioneered a movement of counterculture and counter-story that furthered the cause of black liberation not only in the United States, but for all Africans, and not only for individuals but for an entire community, a community which stands strong to this day. Rest in Power.