Black Power

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Black Power
Black Power included a number of different, loosely-defined ideas. These included:
Rejection of non-violence
MLK being regarded as the `tool of the white man'
White people not being wanted in the CRM.
Black Supremacy ­ the idea that African Americans should be in complete control of
their own destiny
Demands for more effective and fair implementation of the law
Radical social change, especially in housing and education
Malcolm X's Background
Was brought up in family who were constantly harassed by white racists
Deprived of a father figure, who was found dead, probably murdered by white people
and his father was a strong supporter of Marcus Garvey.
Was forced to cope with a mother who was losing her mind after he husband's death
Was the victim of white teachers talking down his ambitions when at school
He was unable to get good educational opportunities, despite showing ability in his
early school days.
He mixed in criminal company in NY, so turning to a life of crime and drugs.
The American `Nightmare'
Malcolm X had a great deal to say about the nature of White American society and the state
of African-Americans.
In the tradition of Marcus Garvey, he saw black people as Africans rather than Americans and
saw little point in integration.
Instead of King's American `dream' he saw only an American `Nightmare'. The
African-American was in a state of mental slavery towards white people and needed to be
shaken out of it.
The threat of violence
He rejected the non-violence emphasis of the mainstream CRM and saw self-defence
against white aggression and oppression as a legitimate weapon.
This then made his a figure of suspicion both with the white authorities and supporters of
King's philosophy.
Few militant civil rights protestors in the SCLC or NAACP wished to discuss issues with him.
This was not only because his views were regarded as unacceptable: Malcolm X also had a
reputation as a formidable debater and a mesmerising speaker.
Political Statements
Malcolm X managed to get across the true extent of racists feeling in the USA, which many
had assumed was confined to certain quarters of the south.
The urban ghettos of the USA were full of the most serious social problems imaginable:
crime, prostitution, drugs and unemployment. It was Malcolm X who drew attention to this
and warned that if nothing was done, violence on a grand scale would erupt. Indeed it did,
but ironically, it happened after his death.
Split from the Nation of Islam and assassination

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One of the things the Nations of Islam had given Malcolm X was personal control. He had
given up crime, tobacco, alcohol and sexual immorality.
The break-up that happened in 1964 had immense potential significance.
MLK was becoming more militant and more disillusioned with white attitudes, although still
remaining non-violent.…read more

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In 1968 the radical mood in the ghettos and on many student campuses gave the panthers
the favourable conditions they required for their policies. But their period of strength was
short-lived.
In 1969 came the backlash, when 27 Panthers were killed in shoot-outs with police.
Informers completed the downfall of the group and Eldridge Cleaver emigrated in 1969. The
movement reached a membership of 2000 and its height during the late 1960's, but plit
badly in the 70's and disbanded in 1982.…read more

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