“POWER!” STOKELY CARMICHAEL
A Play by Meshaun Labrone
The March Against Fear was a major demonstration in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. It was originally launched on June 6, 1966 by activist James Meredith. James Meredith started a solitary walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, a distance of 220 miles, to counter the continuing racism after the passage of federal civil rights legislation in the previous two years and encourage African Americans to register to vote. He invited only black men to join him and did not want it to be a large media event dominated by major organizations. Meredith was a desirable target for rituals of placement because of a combination of the factor he had history of highly publicized challenges to Mississippi’s racial order, his walk was framed as a confident if not arrogant repudiation custom. On the second day of his walk, Meredith was shot by a white gunman and was hospitalized.
Major civil rights organizations rallied, vowing to carry on the march through the Mississippi Delta in his name. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Human Rights Medical Committee took part, with the Deacons for Defense and Justice from Louisiana providing armed protection. They struggled over tactics and goals, but also cooperated in community organizing and voter registration. They registered over 4,000 African Americans for voting in counties along the way.Some people marched for a short time, others stayed through all the events; some national leaders took part in intermittent fashion, having commitments in other cities.
The march is also the occasion when Stokely Carmichael, the new militant chairman of SNCC, introduced the idea of Black Power to a broad audience. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. participated and continued to attract admiring crowds; his leadership and reputation brought numerous people out to see him, inspiring some to join the march. As the march headed south, the number of participants grew. Finally, an estimated 15,000 mostly black marchers entered the capital of Jackson on June 26, making it the largest civil rights march in the history of the state. The march served as a catalyst for continued community organizing and political growth over the following years among African Americans in the state. They have maintained a high rate of voting and participation in politics since then.