Malcolm X's Background
- Early life contrasts with MLK's upbringing. MLK had a fairly priviledged, middle-class up bringing - X's life was extremely disadvantaged.
- No stranger to racist violence; His father was active in Negro organisations and his mother was of mixed race. 3 of Malcolm's uncles were murdered by whites.
- The Black Legion (white supermacist organisation, similar to the KKK) torched his father's home.
- Also evidence that the Black Legion murdered his father, although the Milwaukee police claimed that the death was an accident.
- Earl Little, X's father, died when he was 6 years old - plunged the family into poverty.
- Mother suffered a nervous breakdown shortly after - her children were sent to foster homes.
- X was an excellent student.
- Dropped out of school after a teacher told him that his aspiration of becomming a lawyer was 'no realistic goal for a ******' - suffered from racist prejudice from a young age.
- Moved to New York - became involved in Criminal underworld - sent to prison in 1946 for 10 years.
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Conversion to the Nation of Islam
- Converted to the Nation of Islam during his time in prison
- The NOI's message deeply affected X - his lifestyle changed dramatically - he gave up smoking + became highly disciplined.
- Released from prison in 1952 - gained significant influence within the NOI. He was able to relate to working-class black men + his powerful oratory attracted many new converts.
- Between 1952 +53 the membership of Detroit Temple tripled - thanks to X.
- Between 1957 +59 the number of temples went from 27 to 49 - Large influence.
- 1959, CBS journalist Mike Wallace produced a documentary entitled The Hate That Hate Produced - intended on portraying the NOI as sinister, however, an interview with X convinced many urban blacks that the NOI represented their hopes and desires.
- In the following 2 months after broadcasting, the NOI's membership would double.
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Malcolm X's Beliefs
- Highly critical of both MLK - calling him the '20th century Uncle Tom'
- He argued that organisations like the SCLC and the NAACP were taken in by American myths like the American dream.
- He claimed that MLK was being paid by the white government to preach Christian love and forgiveness - he was preventing them from effectively fighting for their rights.
- His view on the March on Washington (1963) was 'nothing by a circus with clowns and all' organised by a bunch of 'Uncle Toms' who were slavishly serving their white masters.
- He believed that MLK's goals, such as integration, would bring about a new form of slavery. He believed that integration in the North had led to the creation of an underclass of black people.
- They gambled, had addictions to drugs and alcohol and prostitution- all of which were vices deliberately introduced to trap black people and prevent them from improving their lives.
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- X rejected American values and refused to call himself an American as he argued that America had be founded on the principles of white supremacy.
- Black Nationalism was popular in the black ghettos of the North - it asserted black independence and dignity.
- Economic Black Nationalism meant that black people should control the economy within their own community.
- Political Black Nationalism meant self-determination, that is to say black people should govern themselves.
- X argued that this was only possible in a black community that excluded white people.
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Self Defence and Violent/Militant Actions
- X believed that MLK's non-violent tactics re-emphasised the stereotype of weak and defenceless black people.
- He argued that white racists - including the government - did not respect peaceful protests.
- He also claimed that it was insane for anyone to love someone who had beaten or ***** them, or who had killed any of their friends/families.
- Claimed that using violent self-defence was a natural and empowering response to hatred.
- August 1965 - some of the worst rioting since the 1860s broke out in the Watts district of Los Angeles, leaving 34 dead.
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Organisation of Afro-American Unity
- X broke from the NOI in 1964 and set up a new group, the Organisation of Afro-American Unity (OAAU).
- Drew a link between the struggle against white oppression in America and the anti-colonial struggle in Africa.
- Organised voter registration campaigns
- School boycotts in areas where the education for black people was unsatisfactory
- Rent strikes where housing was unsatisfactory
- Social programmes to help drug addicts.
- Encouraged new teaching methods and home-schooling to emphasise self-reliance, black pride and solidarity with Black Africans struggling against colonialism.
- X became willing to work with CORE and SNCC in order to improve the conditions - even discussion of co-operation between X & MLK.
- After his Hajj, X began to consider the possibility of whites & blacks living in harmony with one another.
- X was assassinated by 3 members of the NOI in Feb 1965.
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The Black Panthers
- The Black Panther Party (BPP) was founded on 15th October 1966 by Huey P. Newton + Bobby Seale.
- All-black membership and prepared to use violence
- Main aim was the revolutionary transformation of America.
- Both Seale and Newton looked to Malcolm X as a role model, similarly both were critical of the civil rights leadership, as they failed to understand the needs of the black working class.
- BBP focused on two two aspects of black liberation: self defence and economic improvements.
- They believed that the police could not be trusted, likened them to the US army that occupied Vietnam. They organised their own militia who patrolled black neighbourhoods - wore a uniform: black beret, blue shirt and a black leather jacket.
- Party slogan: 'Off The Pigs'
- Second Goal: improve the conditions in the northern ghettos.
- The Black Panthers Ten-Point Programme, published on 15th October 1966
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The Black Panther's Ideology
- Black Nationalists - believed black people should govern themselves.
- Linked the struggle for freedom in America with the fight against colonial domination in the Third World.
- Opposed the Vietnam War - calling for black people to refuse to fight.
- Believed that the violent colonial oppression of the American state could only be successfully challenged by violent revolutionary actions by black people - FIGHT VIOLENCE WITH VIOLENCE!
- 'Patrol the Pigs' - essentially designed to keep the police under surveillance in Oakland, California. In doing so they would protect the black people from the abuse they suffered from the police. Campaign highlighted the police abuses and educated local black residents regarding their legal rights.
- Gained great support among the black population
- The Californian state government felt threatened by the campaign - attempted to ban - however, the Panthers courted media attention, seeking to win further support - were successful! By the end of 1967 had become a national organisation with 35 different local groups across 15 states.
- 'Free Huey' Campaign following Newton's arrest on murder charges in 1967 - further publicity. Newton was released in 1970 after the case was dropped.
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