Black nationalism was mostly nonviolent. However, some African-American leaders were very angry. To these people, gradualism was anathema. It suggested that races could coexist together at the very time when many were suggesting that the races should remain separated. In The Fire Next Time (1962) James Baldwin wrote of the “rope, fire, torture, castration, infanticide, rape . . . fear by day and night, fear as deep as the marrow of the bone.” By 1970, many African-American thinkers, religious leaders, social workers, and politicians were outraged. In fact, hatred and unforgiveness ran so deeply in African-American culture that the struggle became the end itself–instead of a means to an end.
Five days after the great 1967 Newark race riots, the National Conference on Black Power, held an auspicious conference that marked a dramatic change in African-American resistance strategies. A seminal paper was presented by Adelaide Cromwell Hill entitled “What is Africa to us?” Hill asked this haunting question,”On this soil, the Negro has never been given an opportunity to name himself.” Black leaders vigorously called their people to resist white cultural encroachments. For the first time violence was openly sanctioned. The black nationalist movement was a black power movement.
In Pittsburgh an inflammatory pamphlet “The Black Mood in Pittsburgh” was widely read in the African-American community. “Black is anger, Tom,” it proclaims. This pamphlet called for a “Burn Day.” “Black Power cannot mean only a black sheriff in the sovereign state of Alabama. . . black power is the power to control our lives,” LeRoi Jones wrote in 1971. “We can have nothing without power.” Black power consciously tied its views to the historical reality of America prejudice. Part of the black power movement were trying to ameliorate its race through community-based interventions. But, from the beginning, black organizers saw themselves as soldiers in a war against white domination.