Tour of Exhibition Portrait Index Catalog and Traveling Exhibition
Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) 1941–1998
The cry for "Black Power" rang out across America in 1966, when Jacob Lawrence went to Atlanta to draw Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, for the cover of Time magazine. Although Carmichael defined the movement positively as "black people coming together to form a political force," it raised fears of anti-white racism and violence. Lawrence portrayed the articulate, educated young leader in southern guise, as an overall-clad field-worker for an Alabama freedom organization, that used the panther—soon to be adopted by the Black Panther Party—as its symbol. The tense interplay of strong black masses, enveloping white field, and thin, defining lines, transcends the abstract formal design to take on social implications.

Lawrence's portrait was never published. Time's editors probably considered the drawing too positive a rendering of an increasingly radical and controversial figure. Carmichael moved to Guinea ultimately, where, as Kwame Ture, he worked as an advocate of Pan-Africanism.

Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000)
Ink, gouache, and charcoal on paper, circa 1966
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
© Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence
Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery Home | Teacher's Guide | Credits | Comments | Copyright