What was the short term significance of Malcolm X?
During the life time of Malcolm, he influenced black political agendas which are arguably one of the most crucial factors that led to the success in the civil rights movement. Also in the short term Malcolm left a political legacy in the form of the black panthers which also emphasised black power and increased black consciousness. Huey P. Newton a former member of the black panthers labelled the members of the movement as “the children of Malcolm.”There were many benefits Malcolm bought to the civil rights movement, firstly converting the movement from civil rights to human rights by internationalising the issue. He also made an effort to raise black consciousness which had a direct impact on African Americans and resulted in creating unity. However because of Malcolm’s hard line approach to the civil rights movement, in order to speed up the process of gaining legal desegregation he maintained self defence or violence should be applied. This resulted in alienating white people which he also rejected the aid of. Furthermore to some extent his social impact was limited and not as effective as for example booker. T. Washington.
Malcolm X attempted to internationalise the civil rights movement, to the extent that he informed the United Nations and urged them to act on it. Malcolm maintained that internal factors such as the political system must be reformed to suit all citizens of America. “The American system does not work for the masses of our people, and it cannot be made to work without radical fundamental change”. However there is much criticism of Malcolm’s lack of short term impact, one reason mainly being much of the legislation passed favouring legal desegregation was done before him. So it is evident that Malcolm’s influence never contributed towards the legal desegregation attained. Furthermore Malcolm’s tactic of adopting violence proved ineffective, for example the 1965 watts riots which resulted from the government’s decision to block the equal housing components from the civil rights act.In the report they acknowledged racial inequality as the cause of riot, and arguably justified their actions however they failed to pass any legislation. In comparison to other methods such as peaceful protests, this proved unsuccessful.
On the other hand during his visit to Africa and Mecca his attitudes were drastically changing and becoming less radial. For example it is evident in his letter from Mecca “Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colours and races here in this Ancient Holy Land”It was during this period Malcolm chooses to globalise the civil rights movement. “I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings”. However this statement was made after he left the nation of Islam so it could be seen as Malcolm’s attempt to be accepted in his new image and remain on the political platform alongside Martin Luther King. This was a key moment because as well as causing a media uproar which was enough to embarrass America, it also resulted in them reassessing their political and legal practice. Although the UN never did take any action the impact it had was enough to revitalise the civil rights movement in the sixties and pressurise people to accept an equal society.