It has been suggested by Cone that the fact that Malcolm X “used vituperative language against whites did not mean that he hated whites or that he was trying to make blacks hate them. Rather his purpose was to wake up blacks to the need to love each other.” This hatred of the white race did not only extend to the race as a whole, but also to minority groups. The Nation of Islam had strong anti-Semitic tendencies which marginalised much support and also, to an extent, the alliance of Jewish Americans and African Americans was severely damaged as a result. By marginalising certain groups, black nationalists lost valuable support for their cause and so, in certain ways, hampered the CRM’s progress. This hampering of the CRM could lead to the analogy of the ‘evil twin’ to be applied to the Nation of Islam and this is appropriate to a certain extent. The aggressive nature of such organisations led to divisions in the movement and extrication of white support.
Further criticisms arise because of Malcolm X’s perhaps unrealistic aims held within his separatist ideals. It was never clear if he supported the view of a separate nation within the United States for African Americans but this was the view of the Nation of Islam, of which he was a member. This, like Garvey’s vision of a mass migration ‘Back to Africa’, was an ideal that would be hard to achieve partly because of logistical problems and primarily due to the limited amount of support the separatist factions had. “Only about 15 percent of blacks labelled themselves separatists.”
Malcolm X however, even with these various criticisms, did much to aid the cause of African Americans that was not done by other factions within the movement such as the SCLC led by King. Malcolm X, as a northerner, was able to see firsthand the extremely low quality of life within the ghettos of the northern cities, something that King was not tackling head on. By speaking out to the black people living in the ghettos, Malcolm X was able to instil pride and an impetus to work themselves out of poverty; a legacy that is in direct contrast to the ‘evil twin’ analogy.
“[The OAAU] is designed to fight all the negative political, economic and social conditions that exist in our neighbourhood.” Other groups such as the SCLC and the NAACP, as stated before, aimed primarily at tackling the political inequality of race relations such as the inability to vote for many African Americans because of obstacles such as the poll tax. Malcolm X rather than aiming for change that for many African Americans was not a necessity, wanted to tackle problems that blacks were facing every day. The ability to vote for a poverty stricken African American in Harlem would not ease their suffering. [The ability to vote did nothing]”to ameliorate their economic condition.” Malcolm X aimed at instilling a sense of pride within African Americans by teaching them about their heritage, a heritage he believed had been stripped by the white man. By doing so, he made many African Americans committed to the cause of working themselves out of poverty and to improve the black condition. As a northerner who had experienced the troubles of the ghetto and come out as a better man, he was able to be more of a role model for young people than the educated southerner, King. His views on nationalism appealed to young people as a method of improving their situation and so he was able to garner support for the nationalist point of view; support which the subsequent BPM was able to use in order to carry on the CRM. By doing this, Malcolm X should not be referred to as the ‘evil twin’ of the movement because he was able to earn support for his cause even after he was dead.
In the 1960s, the two distinct groups, integrationists and separatists started to move further apart. Many African Americans were beginning to see that the nonviolent, integrationist methods were not gaining enough ground in solving the institutional racism and poverty that many African Americans still faced. “The nonviolent tactics that had worked in the South would not work in the northern cities.” As the support for a CRM took a more nationalist focus, figures such as Stokely Carmichael and Floyd McKissick emerged with the mantra of ‘Black Power’. The legacy of Malcolm X encompassed many things but it is this legacy that can be seen as a major cause of the continuance of the CRM. “Malcolm inspired the new generation of black leaders...and the BPM in general.” The BPM provoked much of the criticism that Malcolm X had received previously such as rising militancy, inciting racial hatred and separatist ideas. The term Black Power meant different things to different people and so manifested in different ways. For some it was much the same as the message of Malcolm X in that it meant to rise up against white oppression. For some it meant being proud of being black and by doing so, being proud of their heritage and where they lived by combating the poverty they were living in. For Stokely Carmichael, Black Power meant “political power, economic power, and a new self image for Negroes.” For some it even meant a working class revolution. For some, though not all supporters, a number that was surprisingly few, it meant aiming to combat the political and social institutions that threatened the black identity by forming a type of black autonomy and separatism. The BPM however took matters further with groups such as the Black Panther Party openly carrying weapons in the streets as a means to flaunt their rights and defend themselves from the ever more brutal police forces especially in areas such as California. One could say that the carrying of weapons could be a sign of evil, but, as Malcolm X argued, it is irrational to not protect oneself from such vicious persecution. Previous groups such as CORE and SNCC, who had solely advocated nonviolent protest in the time of King, were becoming more radical under new leaders. Black Power however did not only consist of a more militant form of protest, but also black pride and self-reliance. What Black Power did bring to African Americans, something that King, a critic of the movement agreed with, is that it gave African Americans a sense of pride of their culture and race. They were not willing to be second class citizens, not willing to let the white man continue with his oppression (such as de facto segregation in schools in northern cities) and not willing to ‘turn the other cheek.’ African Americans were now interested in their culture in Africa and studying their culture became an option in many universities, starting with San Francisco State University. Rather than simply falling into a situation of integration, they were able to find out their own identity. This realization of their cultural basis for African Americans also goes against the idea that Black Power was the ‘evil twin’.
Like Malcolm X before them, groups within the BPM aimed at improving the conditions in the ghettos. Striking figures of black illiteracy – only 32% of black pupils in the ghetto finished high school – and high rates of unemployment – in the early 1960s, 46% of those unemployed were black – made it difficult for many African Americans to escape the poverty trap. Another problem with the ghettos was how tensions were tight. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders found that the cause of the 1967 urban riots was white racism and black frustration at economic hardship. “[The] report blamed the riots on white racism and recommended a massive federal spending programme.” Previously, groups had aimed to work with the whites, especially the liberal whites, in order to gain ground but in the case of improving the situation in the ghettos, whites had been little help. “White self-interest ensured poor prospects for better education and housing for ghetto blacks.” Whites wanted to keep African Americans separate in order to keep house prices up and make sure black children could not hold back white children in education. Members of the BPM took action which resulted in the ‘long hot summer’ riots between 1964-8. The riots gave further grounds for a white resentment of African Americans and especially those involved in Black Power. “Many whites, frightened by the urban riots and by the militancy of the black nationalists, because indifferent or hostile to black demands.” Some historians such as Sitkoff (1993) believed that Black Power did indeed cause a white backlash towards the movement whereas others, such as Cook (1998), argued that whites were already reacting to the CRM before Black Power had been established. It is fair to say that Black Power did stir up a negative reaction towards black activists but without Black Power, it is unlikely that African Americans would have achieved much more at the pace nonviolent protest was taking them; something that slowed down even further after the assassination of King. The assassination caused further recoil within the African American community and can also be seen as a major cause of the growing militancy within the movement. By fighting poverty in the ghettos, the BPM achieved much compared to previous groups in the CRM and so, because of its achievements, should not be considered the ‘evil twin’ of the movement.
One major problem with the BPM was that it extricated all whites from various movements primarily CORE and the SNCC which meant that working with whites in order to improve the situation was not possible. King stated that it “tended to...alienate whites from the movement.” Malcolm X, upon his return from Mecca, had a change of heart in his views in that “he argued that blacks and whites should struggle to overcome the oppression of racism”. With his assassination however, tensions grew even further within the CRM and militancy increased. The movement not only extricated whites from the CRM, but it also led to a division between groups. Groups such as the SCLC and the NAACP were not able to work with the more radical groups such as the SNCC, CORE and more explicitly, the Black Panther Party because they went against what they had strived for in the past. The movement was also seen more as a slogan by some, rather than one group with one particular aim which made it difficult for some to understand what African Americans were actually aiming for. For Cook, it was “more slogan than concept” since it never had a true definition and was open to interpretation by conservatives and extremists alike; because of this, it gained support from all activists of the political spectrum.
Further criticism of the message of Black Power is that for some, such as Roy Wilkins, it was a message of Black Supremacy which was no better than White Supremacy. [Black Power was]”the father of hatred and the mother of violence...a reverse Mississippi, a reverse Hitler, a reverse Ku Klux Klan” that “can mean in the end only black death.” This was seen as a reversal of what previous Civil Rights groups were aiming towards - integration and combating racism - and it only fuelled further racism. The misinterpretation of much of what was said and done during the BPM of the 1960s has caused negative repercussions that are still being felt today. Groups such as the New Black Panther are now, after preaching hate towards whites and other minority groups, being called hate groups.
The Black Panther Party, although a small faction within the BPM, was a leading party that advocated armed self-defence and revolutionary methods. Although a short lived group, the Black Panther Party epitomised much of the feelings of young African Americans of how the only way to achieve any significant change was to use violence. The main problem with the Black Panther Party and other related groups is that it split the movement and, in many ways, made the movement lose support. Many members of the party, whilst advocating violence to improve their situation were also involved in unrelated crime, many of which involved clashes with police officers. The legacy of the Black Panther Party is undeniable with the New Black Panther Party still active, although preaching different messages of greater racism, homophobia and strong anti-Semitic feelings. Members of this party could indeed be considered evil such as Kamau Kambon and his call for racial cleansing and the genocide of the white race.
Black Power was able to reach the world in a greater way than the previous movements with public displays of support such as the black arts movement, and most famously, the black power salute in the 1968 Olympics by Tommie Smith and John Carlos. With this media attention, the BPM was able to spread and activists still working towards greater African American rights today can see the BPM as a main reason why the movement is still carrying on through preachers such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
In respects to what the BPM achieved through government, it can be seen as less significant than the other more integrationist movement but is this what the BPM was aiming towards? What was achieved by people such as Rosa Parks and King in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights act of 1965 went against what many advocates of Black Power and Malcolm X were aiming for. It was social improvement, not desegregation that many supporters of Black Power wanted. During Johnson’s presidency, the government was more willing to accept limited change but with the election of Nixon, the government lost its vigour in tackling the domestic problems of racism and social degradation in black ghettos; something which further fuelled support for Black Power. If whites were not willing to accept change, why ask them? Surely it was better to force it upon them or work for it within the black community rather than through federal means? What African Americans were able to gain more than before, was a voice in politics such as African Americans being given places in government offices or time to discuss the problems with the government. “In 1973...there were 16 black people in the US Congress.” The problem with this is that it aimed to tackle more long-term problems rather than the problems blacks in poverty faced every day. Levels of prosperity increased with 31% of blacks now living below the poverty line in 1976 as opposed to 42% ten years earlier but this contrasted starkly with the figure for the white population and still showed great levels of racial inequality. In essence, the problem of the continuous inequality was not caused by the BPM but the BPM did not do as much as it could have to improve the situation. However, this criticism can be looked upon at as one not to undermine the movement had not involved into a more militant, aggressive one and had stayed along the line of what King advocated, even less would have been achieved by the time the BPM had subsided.
Malcolm X and the BPM, although controversial, did much for the plight of African Americans such as raise awareness of the situations in the ghettos and encourage African Americans to feel a sense of pride in their race and culture, and so can be commended for that. Their methods, although at times questionable, did progress the CRM since there was always a need for nationalist support to manifest itself. Malcolm X, towards the end of his life, changed his views slightly in that he wanted to work for a more joint approach with Civil Rights but it was undeniable that he advocated a more nationalist means of protest which contrasted with the views of many Civil Rights activists. The BPM followed on from his nationalism that in order to enact change within the nation but did so in a more factious way. The answer to the question of whether the term ‘evil twin’ can be applied to either or both parties is, in short, no. Malcolm X was not evil; his methods and preaching went against what many people were searching for but he was not evil. Ossie Davis bestowed upon him the title of “Our Own Shining Black Prince” in his eulogy. He was able to do much for African Americans, especially in the North and represented the nationalist point of view and showed many African Americans what it was like to be proud of their heritage. Malcolm X represented the necessary other half of the CRM; the Nationalist approach. “Malcolm made Martin and other civil rights leaders acceptable to white America by presenting himself as the ‘bogeyman’ alternative.””Malcolm keeps Martin from being turned into a harmless American hero.” The question is harder to answer when looking at the BPM because of its factious nature. The movement as a whole was not evil since its primary aim; the advancement of the black race, socially and politically, was not an evil one. What the movement grew into however, can, in certain circumstances, can be deemed evil. Groups such as the New Black Panther Party and its de facto founder, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, can be considered evil through their hate mongering tactics but this is only a small minority. On the whole, the BPM did much for the CRM and should not be considered evil. The term twin can be applied to the CRM as a whole since there were, in many people’s view, two distinct groups or phases in the movement. If Malcolm X and the BPM are one twin, then groups and figureheads such as the NAACP, SCLC, King and Rosa Parks can be identified as the other twin. In essence, the fundamental question is whether there was an ‘evil twin’ in the CRM at all and my answer to this is no.
Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour - Joseph Peniel, 2001
Evil is an objective term and so cannot be applied in the same way to a group/individual by all critics.
Born 1925, Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim and a spokesman for the Nation of Islam before leaving the group in 1964. He was an activist during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and had a profound effect on nationalist and separatist movements before being assassinated in 1965.
A political movement that was around in the United States mainly during the 1960s and the 1970s that, in some cases, manifested a more militant and separatist aims than other members of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Born 1929, King Jr. was a prominent figure in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement before being assassinated in 1968. He advocated desegregation and the end of racial discrimination through non-violent means.
Black Nationalism advocates a separate identity for African Americans as opposed to an integrated culture and supports black pride and in some cases, black economic, social and political independence.
An Islamic sect established in 1930 by Wallace Fard and fronted by Elijah Muhammad during the 1960s that followed the Islamic religion and advocated separatism and Black supremacy.
Born 1887, Marcus Garvey was Black activist during the early twentieth century before his death in 1940. During his activism, he advanced a Pan African Philosophy and created a ‘Back to Africa’ movement.
A speech delivered by Malcolm X in 1965 in which he wished for equal rights for African Americans by any means necessary.
The method of protest used by groups such as the SCLC, King and Rosa Parks in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It was used in such instances such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956, the Freedom Rides of 1961 and 1963 March on Washington.
Integration, or desegregation, was a goal that many African Americans have tried to attain. It was a prevalent aim for many groups within the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and included such goals as attaining equality in education, equal opportunity and political freedom for African Americans.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an American Civil Rights organisation established in 1957 and most famously fronted by King. It advocated the use of nonviolence and was a major participant in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.
The Freedom Rides of 1961 were organised by CORE and aimed to unveil the continual discrimination and ongoing segregation in interstate public transport even after rulings prohibiting such segregation in 1946 and 1960.
The Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964 was organised by the SNCC and aimed to register as many African Americans to vote in the state of Mississippi.
Race Relations in the USA 1863-1980 p.158 – Sanders, 2006
A History of the United States p.264 – Jenkins, 1997
A term applied to those who promote the separation of particular groups; in this case, the separation of race.
Nothing but a Man – Wyatt Tee Walker, 1965
A derogatory term for an African American who is seen to be working for and acting in a subservient manner towards whites.
America’s History: Volume 2 since 1865 p.946 – Henretta et al. 1997
Civil Rights in the USA, 1863-1980 p.290 – Paterson et al. 2001
The New Negro in the North – Kenneth Clarke, 1961
An African American Civil Rights organisation founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale that gradually dissolved and is no longer officially active. It promoted self-defence and militancy in order to achieve its goals of making the USA more economically, politically and socially equal.
From a speech made by Malcolm X, 1965
From a speech made by Malcolm X, 1963
Sweet Land of Liberty p.203 – Cook, 1998
Martin and Malcolm and America p.268 – Cone, 1991
Born 1800, Nat Turner was an American slave who led a revolt in Southampton County, Virginia in August 1831. He was executed in 1831 due to his participation in the revolt. The revolt led to the death of 60 white Americans.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in 1909 and is one of the oldest and largest Civil Rights organisations in the USA. It took part in events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956 and the 1963 March on Washington.
Sweet Land of Liberty p.201 – Cook, 1998
Cone, 1993 – Quoted in The Civil Rights Movement, Struggle and Resistance p.94 – Riches, 1997
America: A Narrative History p.1534 – Tindall and Shi, 1984
The Organisation of Afro-American Unity was a Black Nationalist group founded by Malcolm X in 1964. It advocated racial solidarity and urged all black organisations working to fight white racism to work together.
From a speech made by Malcolm X, 1965
The Limits of Liberty p.553 – Jones, 1995
America: A Narrative History p.1533 – Tindall and Shi, 1984
Born 1941, Stokely Carmichael was an African American activist during the 1960s and 1970s and leader of the SNCC and honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party. He was a strong supporter of Black Power. He died in 1998.
Born in 1922, Floyd McKissick was a Civil Rights activist who became leader of CORE in 1966, and as a supporter of Black Power, turned it into a more radical movement than previously. He died in 1991.
Race Relations in the USA 1863-1980 p.157 – Sanders, 2006
Stokely Carmichael in The New York Times – June, 1966
The Congress of Racial Equality, established in 1942, is a Civil Rights Organisation that organised such events as the Freedom Summer campaigns of 1964.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was a political organisation established in 1960 that played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It took part in key events such as the 1963 March on Washington and the 1964 Freedom Summer. It was initially a nonviolent organisation but in the late 1960s it became more militant when led by Stokely Carmichael.
Civil Rights in the USA, 1863-1980 p.280 – Paterson et al, 2001
The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, also known as the Kerner Commission, was a commission set up in 1967 by President Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 Race Riots across the USA.
The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and Resistance p.95 - Riches, 1997
Race Relations in the USA 1863-1980 p.159 – Sanders, 2006
The ‘long hot summer’ race riots were race riots that took place in nearly every major city in the USA outside of the South between 1964 and 1968. The first major riot was in Watts, Los Angeles in 1965. Between 1964 and 1972, there had been over 250 deaths, 10,000 serious injuries and 60,000 arrests as a result of urban rioting.
The Limits of Liberty p.554 – Jones, 1995
The assassination of King took place on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis. It was carried out by James Earl Ray. The assassination led to nationwide riots in over 60 US cities.
King in The New York Times – July, 1966
The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and Resistance p.94 - Riches, 1997
The assassination of Malcolm X took place on February 21st, 1965 in Manhattan, New York. It was carried out by Members of the Nation of Islam.
Sweet Land of Liberty p.201 – Cook, 1998
A white supremacist, racist, terrorist hate group that was founded in the Southern United States in 1866 by veterans of the Confederate Army. It has seen decline and revivals since its inception but at present is mainly inactive.
Roy Wilkins in The New York Times – July, 1966
Born 1941, Jesse Jackson is an African American Civil Rights activist who has previously been affiliated with the SCLC and King.
Born 1913, Rosa Parks was an African American civil rights activist who is perhaps most famous due to her participation in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She died in 2005.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, furthered school desegregation and established an Equal Employment Commission.
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited racial discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of a house.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 disallowed literacy tests and ‘constitutional interpretation tests’ and established federal registrars that aimed at increasing the numbers of minority voters.
Civil Rights in the USA, 1863-1980 p.298 – Paterson et al, 2001
Civil Rights in the USA, 1863-1980 p.300 – Paterson et al, 2001
Born 1917, Ossie Davis was an African American actor and social activist who befriended both Malcolm X and King and was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement, especially in the organisation of the 1963 March on Washington. He died in 2005.
Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare p.264 – Cone, 1991
Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare p.316 – Cone, 1991
Established in 1989, the New Black Panther Party is not officially affiliated with the original Black Panther Party. It is a much more extremist group than the original Black Panther Party and has defined as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Born 1948, Khalid Abdul Muhammad was known as the de facto founder of the New Black Panther Party. He was criticised as his speeches were often anti-white, anti-Semitic and homophobic. He died in 2001.
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
Spelling, grammar and punctuation all sound besides the occassional typo (re-read!). A solid essay with good knowledge however a more concise structure would be advised.
Level of analysis
With a lengthy essay such as this, one would expect detailed analysis and this is no exception. As is advised, evaluating the long and short-term impact of various factors whilst reaching a clear judgement on each proves effective. I would suggest a more concise essay structure which could be used in an examination however, with distinct 'mini' conclusions so to speak.
Response to question
This candidate has answered the question no doubt, and has explored the role of Malcolm X and how he compares to other leaders in the movement (MLK, Marcus Garvey etc). However, to improve their response further, I would advise a more concise and structured response. For example, the word length is high and would be difficult to match in exam conditions.