Black Nationalism - Background - Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Between 1953 and 1965, while most African leaders worked in the civil rights movement to integrate African people into mainstream American life, Malcolm X was an avid advocate of black independence and the reclaiming of black pride and masculinity. He maintained that there was hypocrisy in the purported values of Western culture--from its Judeo-Christian religious traditions to American political and economic institutions--and its inherently racist actions. He maintained that separatism and control of politics, and economics within its own community would serve blacks better than the tactics of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and mainstream civil rights groups such as the SCLC, SNCC, NAACP, and CORE. Malcolm X declared that nonviolence was the "philosophy of the fool," and that to achieve anything, African Americans would have to reclaim their national identity, embrace the rights covered by the Second Amendment, and defend themselves from white hegemony and extrajudicial violence. In response to Rev. Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, Malcolm X quipped, "While King was having a dream, the rest of us Negroes are having a nightmare."

Malcolm X believed that African Americans must develop their own society and ethical values, including the self-help, community-based enterprises, such as the Alcoholics Anonymous, that the black Muslims supported. He also thought that African Americans should reject integration or cooperation with Caucasians until they could achieve internal cooperation and unity. He prophetically believed there "would be bloodshed" if the racism problem in America remained ignored, and he renounced "compromise" with whites. After participation in a Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), Malcolm found himself restructuring his views and recanted several extremist opinions in favor the doctrine of mainstream Islam. Before he could begin taking his campaign in a new direction, he was assassinated on February 21, 1965 during a speech held at The Audubon Ballroom, NYC.

Upon his return from Mecca, Malcolm X abandoned his commitment to racial separatism; however, he still supported black nationalism and advocated that African Americans in the United States act proactively in their campaign for equal human rights, instead of relying on Caucasian citizens to make concessions. The tenets of Malcolm X's new philoposphy are articulated in the charter of his Organization of Afro-American Unity (an African nationalist group patterned after the Organization of African Unity), and his inspiration of the Black Panther movement.

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Famous quotes by malcolm x:

    If you’re born in America with a black skin, you’re born in prison, and the masses of black people in America today are beginning to regard our plight or predicament in this society as one of a prison inmate.
    Malcolm X (1925–1965)

    It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.
    Malcolm X (1925–1965)

    If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.
    Malcolm X (1925–1965)

    I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me. I believe in treating people right, but I’m not going to waste my time trying to treat somebody right who doesn’t know how to return the treatment.
    Malcolm X (1925–1965)