Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is seen as the face of the civil rights movement because of the legacy he left behind after he had been assassinated. Martin Luther King Jr. had been a strong leader who helped organize the civil rights movement. He is also renowned for his famous speech “I have a dream”. The other leaders who took part in the civil rights movement are Medgar Evers, James Farmer, Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, John Lewis, and Rosa Parks. They were constantly arrested and beaten up by the police. Some of their ideas were resisted by prominent leaders like Malcolm X (Hine 2011).
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“Black Power” was a popular slogan that was used by many African Americans in the late 1960s. The slogan was first used by a civil rights activist in a civil rights march in Mississippi in June 1966. Stokely Carmichael was the first person to have used the words “Black Power” that later became a popular slogan among African Americans. Stokely Carmichael felt that African Americans needed to have a sense of racial pride and to also respect themselves before they could any meaningful gains. The term “Black Power” referred to the numerous attempts by African American leaders to gain political and economic power (Holt 1997). Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad were some of the other civil rights activists who supported the movement.
The movement helped African Americans to be proud of their African heritage. Soon, young African Americans were spotted with the Afro hairstyle symbolizing African pride. African American students, though the movement was able to demand the introduction of African American studies in their universities. The Black Panther Party was formed in Oakland, California to help African American militants to protect their communities against rampant police brutality.
Malcolm X was born in May 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska in the United States of America. In his early years in Detroit, Malcolm X was involved in drug peddling. It was when he had been in prison that he underwent conversion and joined the Nation of Islam. Malcolm had been a staunch Muslim who believed in the concept of Black Nationalism. He held various prestigious posts in the Nation of Islam. Malcolm was an articulate and intelligent leader (Dagbovie 2010). He was able to challenge Martin Luther King Jr.’s concepts of non-violence and integration. Together with Muhammad and Carmichael, they formed the Black Panther Party that helped protect African Americans against police brutality. Malcolm was able to sell his ideas to the African Americans in various meetings in the streets of Harlem and in major universities across the United States. Malcolm was criticized for challenging the civil rights movement leaders in particular; Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm was also heavily criticized when he described the assassination of the late John F. Kennedy, as a consequence of violence. This statement made him fall out with Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (Sadler 2009).
With time, Malcolm renounced the separatist beliefs that were held by the Nation of Islam. He believed that the only solution to the racism problem lay in orthodox Islam. His actions were met with death threats and violence. Malcolm was later assassinated in February 1965 as he delivered a lecture in Harlem (Sadler 2009).
Dagbovie, P. G. (2010). African American history reconsidered. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Hine, D. C. (2011). African American odyssey. S.l: Prentice Hall.
Holt, T. C. (1997). African-American History. The new American history, 211-31.
Sadler, J. (2009). African American history: an introduction. New York: Peter Lang.