It was in the 1960s that civil rights movement transitioned into an understanding of legitimacy as something constructed by people in power. Therefore, operating according to prescribed notions of legitimacy becomes directly contrary to the aims of the many of the 1960s social movements, particularly SNCC and the resulting Black Panther Party. Rather than a natural manifestation of a shift in values, changes in pop culture were an intentional tactic used to legitimize disruptive movement. Carmichael expands on this idea in his speech to Berkeley students in 1966. SNCC and the Black power movement are trying to create new standards of legitimacy by shifting away from white supremacy and trying to base legitimacy in Black working class culture.
“The question, then, is not whether or not one can work; it’s Who has power to make his or her acts legitimate? That is all. In this country that power is investing in the hands of white people, and it makes their acts legitimate.”
APA Citation: Stokely Carmichael, “Black Power,” Speech at UC Berkeley (1966)