What happened to the Black Power leaders of the 1960s:  Stokely Carmichael, Huey Newton, and H. Rap Brown?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During the 1960s, the Black Panthers fought for freedom for the African American in the large cities in America.  Television often displayed pictures of the members wearing their black berets and leather coats, holding shotguns and confronting the police.


A flamboyant civil rights activist, Stokely Carmichael was best known for creating the phrase “Black Power.” An intelligent student educated at Howard University--- worked to find a way to apply a philosophical approach to the issues which faced the civil rights movements in the early 1960s. He worked in the Congress of Racial Equality and picketed for  the civil rights movement.

Carmichael promoted black segregation.  The Black power movement represented Carmichael's break with King's doctrine of nonviolence.

In 1968, Carmichael married a Guinean doctor. Although making frequent trips back to the US, Carmichael lived permanently in Guinea. He legally changed his name to Kwame Tourre. 

In 1985, Carmichael was diagnosed with prostate cancer which he insinuated had been given him through some kind of American Imperialism conspiracy. He died at the age of 57 in 1998.


Huey P. Newton was a co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense.  It was affiliated with the Black Power movement which kept the militant black movement enraged through anti-white rhetoric and use of military weapons and violence. Police violence against African Americans was a common complaint in impoverished Oakland, California.  

Newton believed that a hostile approach was the only way to achieve the goals of the black militants. As a social activist, Newton liked to inflame the press as well as the white communities.  One picture showed him holding a machine gun and a spear in the other hand.

Along with the other Black Panthers, Newton created a document called the “Ten-Point Program.” The goals included better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans. Many of his actions were intended as shock value to threaten the white man.

Convicted of killing a policeman in Oakland, California, he was sentenced to 2 to 20 years. He was retried twice and eventually allowed to go free.


H. Rap Brown joined the civil rights movement while attending college.  He was an active member of the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  In 1966, Brown became the National Director of the SNCC in 1967 after Stokely Carmichael resigned. 

Eventually, Brown gave up his non-violent stance and joined the Black Panther Party.  During this time, he wrote a book entitled, Die Nigger Die! He was imprisoned several times for various offenses: importations of weapons; inciting people to riot; and arson. 

He was shot by the New York City police during an armed robbery.  Serving his time in Attica Prison, Brown was paroled in 1976.  He changed his religion to Islam and his name to Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.

After his release from prison, he owned a grocery store in Atlanta.  In 2000, Al-Amin became leader of a large Black Muslim group.  It was at this time that two police officers came to arrest Al-Amin for theft.  He opened fire on the police wounding both of them with an assault weapon. It was proven that while one of the policemen lay wounded that Al-Amin shot him three more times killing him.  Al-Amin was tried and convicted of homicide and is serving life in prison.