Black power and the use of violence.

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Malcom X and the start of Black Power:

  • There had been divisions in the civil rights movement since it's inception. These gained in pace in the mid-1960's.
  • The ideas of Black Power did not form a coherent ideology in the same was as Martin Luther King's idea of non-violence.
  • Martin Luther King's tactics had been a valid stratedy in the context of legal racism of the south and had operated to undermine de jure discrimination.
  • It had been clear from the events in Chicago that these methods were not relevant to the problems of de facto discrimination in the north.
  • Therefore, northern blacks were looking for ideas that were appropriate to their position and Black Power seemed to offer answers to their social, economic and political problems.

Malcolm X:

  • Many of the ideas of black power were derived from the teachings of Malcolm X. He had been involved in petty crime as a young man, but whilst in jail, had converted to Islam, he changed his name from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X and became a member of the Nation of Islam.
  • He was an inspirational speaker and his ideas included the following elements:
  • A belief that blacks should distance themselves from white society and not attempt the integration advocated by MLK and his followers.
  • He believed that blacks should develop their own organisations and self-help completely separate from those of white society.
  • These ideas of segregation were derived from Marcus Garvey whom Malcom X's parents had admired.
  • A belief that non-violence in the face of white aggression was not an appropriate response. He argued that when blacks were faced with white oppression then armed self-defence justifiable.
  • However, although he preached this position, he himself never directly engaged in the violence, which has lef to some debate as to whether he was merely using the language of violence to achieve concesisions from the authorities. 
  • Malcolm X parted from the Nation of Islam in 1964 when he discovered that its leader, Elijah Muhammad, was not adhering to its strict codes regarting sexual behaviour. He formed a new organisation, the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, that aimed to promote black nationalism.
  • Malcolm X was assassinated the following year by members of the Nation of Islam.

The Meredith March:

  • In 1966, James Meredith decided…


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