In recent decades, revisionist challenges to the traditional “declension hypothesis” have generated a much more nuanced and positive approach to the Black Power movement. However, attempts to explain the narrative's initial popularity have too often focussed on the latter half of the decade and blamed a media-assisted white backlash or the inflammatory rhetoric of Black Power activists. Concentrating instead on the earlier half of the decade, this article examines the media strategies of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and demonstrates how its public approach to nonviolence and interracial organizing purposefully hid developments within the movement that were seen to be at odds with the dominant discourse. By highlighting the ways in which the early media strategies of a militant organization like SNCC strengthened and legitimized a misleading movement narrative, this article challenges scholars to be more critical of early movement rhetoric and re-examine how and why Black Power was portrayed as a fundamental break with the past.
- Civil Rights
- Student Nonviolent Coordinating Comitttee
- Black Power