Bill Clinton slammed for 'anti-black' remarks about civil rights figure Stokely Carmichael at John Lewis' funeral

FORMER President Bill Clinton was slammed on Thursday for his “anti-black” remarks about civil rights figure Stokely Carmichael at Congressman John Lewis' funeral.

Speaking at the service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, several former presidents, including Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama, eulogized Lewis.

Clinton said that Lewis, who died on July 17 at the age of 80, “never lost heart.”

He fought the good fight, he kept the faith,” Clinton said. “It is so fitting on the day of his service, he leaves us our marching orders: ‘Keep moving.’”

The Democrat, who served as the 42nd president of the US from 1993 to 2001, went on to say that years later, Lewis “lost the leadership” of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The SNCC became the cutting edge of the student direct-action civil rights movement — and Lewis was the committee’s chairman from 1963 to 1966.

Clinton said: “Just three years later, he lost the leadership of SNCC to Stokely Carmichael because it was a pretty good job for a guy that young and come from Troy, Alabama.”

“It must have been painful to lose, but he showed as a young man there’s some things that you just cannot do to hang on to a position because if you do, then, you won’t be who you are anymore.

Who was Stokely Carmichael?

Stokely Carmichael was a civil rights activist who led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from 1966 until his ouster in 1969.

  • Carmichael 'is often remembered as confrontational in style and far removed from nonviolence'
  • He was a freedom rider
  • Carmichael, who later changed his name to Kwame Toure, is credit with coining the term 'black power'
  • After leaving the SNCC, he became 'Prime Minister' of the Black Panther Party
  • He died in 1998 at the age of 57 in Conakry, Guinea

“And I say there were two or three years there, where the movement went a little too far towards Stokely, but in the end, John Lewis prevailed.”

Carmichael, who later lived under the name Kwame Toure, headed the SNCC from 1966 until his ouster in 1969.

During that time, he was a strong advocate of black militancy.

Carmichael and was a freedom rider who traveled from many parts of the nation to the South by bus and train to force desegregation of interstate transportation methods. notes that as chairman of the SNCC, Carmichael moved the group “in a sharply radical direction, making it clear that white members, once actively recruited, were no longer welcome.”

Carmichael and has been credited with coining the civil rights slogan “black power,” and moved away from Martin Luther King Jr’s push for nonviolence in the civil rights movement.

The SNCC's website states "Carmichael is often remembered as confrontational in style and far removed from nonviolence.

"Yet he credited nonviolent activism as leading him and other young black people like himself into the Movement."

After leaving the SNCC, he became "Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party.

Clinton’s remarks about Carmichael during his eulogy of Lewis were slammed online.

The Root wrote in their coverage of Clinton’s speech that “there was no reason … for Clinton to invoke Stokely’s good name in any of this,” noting it happened at a “civil rights legend’s funeral.”

They described the remarks as “bulls**t.”

“Also, who uses a funeral to talk s**t about someone else who was also doing the work?” they wrote.

“Bill Clinton has never been on the righteous side of right and he couldn’t even keep his pettiness out of a funeral speech.

“That s**t was written down and read out loud in front of black people there to honor a fallen hero.”

Nikole Hannah Jones, a reporter for New York Times Magazine, tweeted that she “literally cringed” at Clinton’s speech.

“Stokely was radicalized differently [after] getting arrested for 27th time fighting for civil rights in Greenwood.

“He decided from then on if white people hit him, he was going to hit back. Both tactics had their place, but white people were only comfortable [with] one,” she wrote.

During his speech, Clinton ran through a long list of memories he had with Lewis, starting with the first time he met the legend in the 1970s.

Lewis stressed nonviolence, and "thought the open hand was better than the clenched fist," Clinton said.

"I just loved him. I always will. And I'm so grateful that he stayed true to form."

"Now he's gone up yonder, but he's left us with marching orders," Clinton said, referring to an op-ed Lewis wrote that was published posthumously on Thursday, in which he called on Americans to fight for what's right by getting in "good trouble."

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