The movement was made up of several different organizations and spoke persons with a variety of ideas and views differing from that of Martian Luther King and the civil rights movement. They felt that the civil rights movement to end segregation was not enough and many black power advocates rejected the civil rights movements’ ultimate goal of assimilation. They believed that white racism and institutional discrimination would always be a part of American culture and society, and did not want to be integrated into the very system that for centuries oppressed, denigrated, and devalued blacks.
The Black Power movement was built around ideas of racial pride and Black Nationalism with groups working to increase African American control over schools, law enforcement, welfare programs, and other public services in black communities. They felt that to be equal they must liberate and truly empower themselves on there own terms in order to gain power and stand up to the dominant group. Advocates of Black Power were open to the use of violence in order to achieve there goals, which was in direct contrast to the non-violent approach demonstrated by Martin Luther King jr. ,leader of the civil rights movement.
The first popular use of the term Black Power as a social and political slogan came from Stokely Carmichael, an organizer and spokesperson for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) a group associated with the civil rights movement. The SNCC was made up mainly of younger members who over time became more violent and outspoken in the belief of Black Nationalism. During the civil rights’ March against Fear there was a division between those aligned with Martian Luther King jr. and those aligned with Stokely Carmichael each having there own respective slogans of “Freedom Now” and “Black Power”.
During the March a man by the name of James Meredith was gunned down and Carmichael is quoted in saying "This is the twenty-seventh time I have been arrested and I ain't going to jail no more! The only way we gonna stop them white men from whuppin' us is to take over. What we gonna start sayin' now is Black Power! ” From then on the SNCC was for the Black Power movement and Black separatism from whites. The goal of Black Nationalism was also held by the Black Muslims a religious group under the Nation of Islam fighting for Black Power.
The Black Muslims were a well known organization within the movement. They were angry, impatient, outspoken, and did more then just talk. There goal was to develop the black community economically in order to supply jobs and gain capital solely by using their own resources, which would help them deal with the white society from a more powerful position. One of the best leaders of the Black Muslims and of the Black Power movement was Malcolm X. He was a very well known and heard man who studied under Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm X believed in black independence from white society and brought his strong views against white racism and discrimination to the public eye more so then maybe any other leader of the movement and became a threaten figure to white America. Malcolm X was later assassinated in 1965 not due to conflicts with white society, but due to conflicts within the Nation of Islam, specifically those dealing with leader Elijah Muhammad. The SNCC and Black Muslims looked at white society as one and in turn formed there own racism and prejudice to all whites and believed in Black separatism and Black Nationalism.
The Black Panthers however were a well known group of the Black Power Movement and believed in neither Black separatism nor Black Nationalism. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seal, founders of the Black Panthers believed in creating a political group for the people, one that would stand up for the opposed against those who oppose them. They felt the national government not white society was holding them down and the struggle for blacks came more from economic exploitation then from racism.
Here is a quote from Bobby Seal as writing in his book Seize The Time "In our view it is a class struggle between the massive proletarian working class and the small, minority ruling class. Working-class people of all colors must unite against the exploitative, oppressive ruling class. So let me emphasize again -- we believe our fight is a class struggle and not a race struggle. ” Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seal believed in something bigger, something along the lines of a revolution with the strength of numbers and will power of the people leading the way.
Newtown and Seal received much harassment from law enforcement because of this message, so much so that Newton was convicted of killing a police officer and thrown in prison causing much uproar in the legions people he stood up for. The Black Panthers are still very much alive today and continue to stand up for the people. Here is a statement from there website, “We know now, more then ever before, that the will of the people is greater than the technology and repression of those who are against the interests of the people. Therefore we know that we can and will continue to serve and educate the people”.
All three of these groups had significant role in the black power movement and there anger and aggression both directly and indirectly helped pave the way for black politics. The National Black Political convention was held March 10-12 1972 in Gary, Indiana and was a huge milestone for black politicians to come and we now have a black man in office. In close, looking at the situation I feel there are both pros and cons. I believe the movement for Black Power helped open the worlds eyes to inequality and inspired movements to come such as women’s rights, red power, and gay/lesbian rights to name a few.
The movement gave the black community a sense of pride to be black and helped cure the pains left by years of slavery and segregation. In turn though this caused more racism both from blacks and whites alike due to such a strong emphasis on race and black segregation. This racism is still easy to see in present time, although the discrimination is definitely lower. I believe if the civil rights and Black Power movements could have worked as one, things would have turned out better for the black community overall.
This is an image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two American track athletes who placed first and third respectively giving the Black Power salute on the podium at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. This caused great controversy and both were kicked out of the Olympic village and were expelled from the games by the IOC. Both men were booed by the crowd when they left the podium and Smith later stated "If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight”.
Bibliography . Black Panthers, www. BlackPanther. org . Black Muslims, http://www. infoplease. com/ce6/society/A0807794. html . Malcolm X, http://www. malcolmx. com/about/bio3. html . SNCC, http://mlk-kpp01. stanford. edu/index. php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_student_nonviolent_coordinating_committee_sncc/ . Black Power wikipedia, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Black_Power . In search of African America, http://www. hoover. archives. gov/exhibits/africanamerican/blackpower/index. html . Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class 5th edition Pg. 256-258 [pic][pic]