By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Needless to say that this has been a milestone era for Black People - starting with the March on Washington in 1963, through the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965; through the march on Selma in 1965. But nothing has been more momentous in my book than the era of Black power, which was ushered in in 1966 by Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Toure) and Dr. Charles V. Hamilton, when they co-authored the epoch making book, BLACK POWER, which was researched largely at the campus of Lincoln University. Doc Hamilton, or "Doc" as we lovingly called him, was not only the head of the Political Science Department, and my Poly Sci professor; but he was also Legal Counsel for SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), of which Stokely and H. Rapp Brown and others were the leaders.
Talk about living in a privileged space, in a privileged time!! Lincoln U was the epicenter of Black Liberation and cohesive Black thought. It was the bedrock of Black Philosophy. Students would cut class to come and hear the "Hamilton Report" - which is what we called it when Doc had to do down and rescue SNCC members from the snares of white racists in Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas - actually risking his own life to do so. Students who weren't even enrolled in Poly Sci classes would sit in the windows, crowd the doorways, or sit on the floor to learn of the latest happenings.
And it didn't hurt that Doc Hamilton was one of the Finest of the Fine Black Men on the campus - more than one of us had a secret crush on him - including yours truly! And what was not to like? He stood for all that was great in Black manhood. He was erudite, articulate, forthright, and fearless- and he had a razor wit and a biting sense of humor. We were part and parcel of history in the making. We had what no one else had: THE GREAT DR. CHARLES V. HAMILTON!!!
I will also never forget when Stokely Carmichael first enunciated BLACK POWER - it was at Lincoln University, October 1966 - in Mary Dodd Brown Chapel - our go to center for practically everything - from weddings, to funerals, from talent shows, to concerts - and we, the students of Lincoln were privileged to hear said to us for the first time ever: BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL!!!
It practically took our breath away. No one had ever said that before. We were still "negroes!" "Black" was a pejorative that would get your teeth knocked out your mouth if you called some one that - even as a joke!
And here was Stokely Carmichael honoring himself, and us, as no one else had ever done before (other than Marcus Garvey, of course) for being both BLACK and BEAUTIFUL. And there was Chuck Hamilton, beaming proudly as he continued to redefine us and change the negative paradigm under which we had been struggling into a badge of honor.
I looked around the room to see who else was feeling the moment of magic the way I was, and it appeared that the entire campus was totally taking it in and letting it marinate in their psyches.
And, I guess, if there was anyone we loved and revered as much as Doc Hamilton, it was definitely Stokely Carmichael. And those two as a team - UNSTOPPABLE!!
We learned the tenets of Black Power that evening, and our lives were never the same as a result. The love and cohesiveness that ensued, between African, African American and Caribbean mostly male students at the time - Lincoln had just gone Co-Ed in 1965 - the year I entered as a junior, after having been expelled from Hampton for being too Black & Militant - could be felt all over the chapel and spilled out onto the campus. You could hear Brothers saying "BLACK POWER" and raising their fists in the symbol of Solidarity. Stokely and Doc Hamilton were our Ebony Guardians who stood against all the heinous, negative lies that had been told about us throughout the year. They spoke truth to power and made it real!!
Continued after the break:
All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) - Black
From our culture, to our intellect, to our hair - which by the way, this October marks the 50th year of my wearing my hair in an Afro/Natural style - thanks to Sam Anderson, Anthony Monteiro, Paul Moore, Julian Ellison and Maxine Stewart!!! I am still happy nappy!! (LOL)
From our rhythm, to our resilience, to our families, and our ability to survive, withstand, and continue to move forward - by the time Stokely completed his speech - we were in tears of joy, applauding wildly and hugging or high-fiving him for his message.
Back to my hero, Doc Hamilton, though. If there ever was a charismatic leader it was and is Dr. Charles V. Hamilton! He smoked a pipe - yes in class - we weren't as uptight then as people are nowadays. His favorite term was "vis a vis" - which became one of his nicknames among the LU Rabble. He had two beautiful daughters - Carol and Valli - that I had the privilege of babysitting from time to time - and a beautiful, dynamic wife and life partner - Dona - who became a sister/friend during my time on campus.
Doc would hold meetings with the leaders of SNCC and other activists on campus, and allow a few of the more activist students to attend - thanks Doc!! As I said I felt I was in a privileged space - and still do to this day.
When the KKK threatened to come and burn crosses on Lincoln's Campus - something they had been doing for more than 100 years - Doc didn't run and hide; he stood with the men of the campus, surrounded the grounds and made sure that none of them set foot on Lincoln Soil. And yes, they did burn a cross - but it was several miles away from us - but still bright enough to be seen from certain points of the campus.
It was only a matter of time that his genius would be noticed by Columbia University's School of International Politics, and he would leave the confines of Lincoln's small collegiate campus. I'm just glad that I had the opportunity and the privilege of having him of two years - in an intimate setting where we could share and exchange and rap about what was happening in a semi-colleague/mentorhship relationship.
I am so excited that he will be keynoting the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Black Power at Columbia University!! He is an icon in the hearts and minds of so many of us who still talk of "Hamiltonian Politics" - in terms of the Great Charles V. Hamilton - and not that "other guy" - LOL
Below is the information about registration and the agenda for the two-day Event:
Panels and Presentations: