During the mid-1960s, activist Stokely Carmichael became disillusioned with the concept of “peaceful resistance” being the foreword message of the Black power movement. Inspired by Carmichael’s changing ideas about how to approach equal rights, a Memphis-based civil rights group called The Invaders formed with the intention of giving the local African American community a new voice. A recent documentary directed by Prichard Smith and narrated by Nas about The Invaders contains extensive interviews with surviving members telling the story of the group’s history.
Formed by local students Charles Cabbage and Coby Smith, and with The Black Panthers as a model, The Invaders began by making small changes in the community, like forming breakfast and tutoring programs for children in lower-income neighborhoods. The documentary continues to tell the history of the group’s rise prior to their role in the 1968 Memphis garbage workers strike, the coercion that led to their taking blame for the riots that occurred, and the group’s intention to collaborate with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film presents an invaluable text for both Memphis history and for American civil rights. –Billups Allen (Pipeline Entertainment)