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Why did Malcolm X become involved in the campaign for equal rights in the 1950s and 1960s?

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Why did Malcolm X become involved in the campaign for equal rights in the 1950s and 1960s? When Malcolm X first got involved with the campaign for equal rights he was very critical of the civil rights movement however towards the end of his life his opinion began to change. Malcolm felt very strongly about getting equal rights with white people for several reasons. These included growing up in an underprivileged home, his experiences of racism first hand, becoming a Muslim and being a member of the Nation of Islam and also his belief that the civil rights movement was not working. Malcolm had a very tough upbringing, which greatly contributed, to his beliefs that would later get him involved in the campaign for equality. He was born into an underprivileged home and the family moved around a lot to find work and to escape the constant threat of violence from white racists. His father gave him and his siblings daily chores and regularly beat him. His father was also a strong supporter of Marcus Garvey who advocated self-help and the separation of races. He appealed to racial pride and condoned products that whitened skin tone. Garvey was also interested in internationalising the racial struggle. This is significant as the views his farther had he later adopted and advocated himself. Malcolm also received poor educational opportunities and his teachers put down his ambitions. ...read more.


Although the Nation of Islam did not want Malcolm X to make political statements, he felt so strongly about the nature of white American society and the status of black people within the country that he had to speak up about it. He thought that there was little point trying to integrate into white society that was corrupt and racist. He once said, "Who wants to sit on the next toilet seat to a white man?" Malcolm had lived among working-class black people and had assessed the attitude of northern whites towards black people. He was aware that in the north racism was disguised but still very much present. However in the winter of 1963-64 Malcolm broke away from the Nation of Islam. One reason was that after his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964 which, he felt showed him the real Muslim religion. He also discovered a powerful Muslim philosophy of racial harmony and brotherhood. Another reason for doing so was that he was keen to participate in the civil rights campaign in order to help black people in general. He also felt guilty that while black people faced violence in Birmingham, the Nation of Islam negotiated with the Ku Klux Klan. He set up his own organisation that reflected his new values of racial toleration, the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, which aimed to unite all people of African descendent and to promote political, social and economic independence for blacks. ...read more.


His teacher also told him that a black person could not be a lawyer, which was his ambition. The authorities separating his siblings and his white foster parents showed him how it was not just a few people that were racist but that it was the whole American system that was not willing to listen to black people. Another example was that he received a long prison sentence just because he was involved with white girls. All these negative experiences with white people led him to the Nation of Islam's belief that white people were evil and separation was the only way that black people could improve their situation. The Nation of Islam then allowed him to put forward his ideas about black power and pride. Whilst living in the ghettos he knew how hard life was and so when King and the civil rights movement were not doing enough to help working-class black people he spoke about it in speeches and interviews. His views were so strong because of the racism he had encountered over the years that he had to speak up about the inequalities even though the Nation of Islam barred him from talking about political issues. When he went to Mecca he experienced main stream Islam and this then gave him the ideas of brotherhood and mellowed him to have similar ideas to that of King. As a result Malcolm encouraged voter registration and took part in a rent strike rally and school boycotts. ...read more.

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