A two-day symposium on the history and impact of the black power movement of the 1960s and 1970s will take place Monday, March 30, and Tuesday, March 31, at the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
and National Portrait Gallery
, located at Eighth and F streets N.W. in Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, “1968 and Beyond: A Symposium on the Impact of the Black Power Movement in America” will examine what African American history scholar Peniel Joseph calls the “classical period” of the civil rights movement by placing it in the broader context of American and African American history. The symposium is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.
The black power movement grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference advocated change from within political and social institutions. With the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and dissatisfaction with the pace of change, organizations such as the Nation of Islam, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party began to gain prominence. SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael popularized the term black power.
The symposium will feature prominent historians, political figures and artists, many of whom were key figures at the peak of the black power movement. Three panel discussions will be featured each day followed by question-and-answer periods.
Monday’s session will begin at 9 a.m. with opening remarks by Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, followed by a keynote address by Joseph, professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. Joseph is one of the leading young scholars in African American history. After the opening remarks and keynote address, there will be three panel discussions.
10:15 a.m.—a panel discussion titled “People Get Ready, There’s a Change A’Comin: Civil Rights and Black Power: Rediscovering Their Distinctions and Intersections” examines the movement’s origins. The panel will feature famed civil rights leader, congressman and former SNCC member John Lewis and poets Askia Mohammed Toure and Amiri Baraka, both veterans of the black power movement.
1:30-3 p.m.—a panel discussion with Kathleen Cleaver, wife of Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver, will be among the panelists discussing “Nationalism and Pan-Africanism.”
3:15 to 5:30 p.m.—a panel discussion titled “To Be Young Gifted and Black: The Black Arts, Black Consciousness and the New Black Aesthetic” will feature poet Sonia Sanchez and playwright Woodie King.
There will be three panel discussions Tuesday, March 31:
9-11 a.m.—a panel discussion titled “Say It Loud: Campus, Curriculum and Consciousness” will explore the evolution of black studies’ programs and the impact of these programs on the development of ethnic and women’s studies’ programs.
11:15 a.m.— a panel discussion titled “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!: Engendering Black Power: Black Women and Politics of Black Liberation” will examine the role of women during the black power movement and will include Johnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.
2:30-4 p.m.—a final panel discussion titled “Black Electoral Politics Then and Now” will feature key figures from the political arena, including democratic strategists Donna Brazile and Ron Walters.