Malcolm X

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Year 12 Modern History Individual History Essay

"To what extent did Malcolm X play a positive role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and the 1960s in America?"

Word Count: 1923 words

To a limited extent Malcolm X played a positive role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s in America. Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister, leader and human rights activist. During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s Malcolm X became one of the most prominent advocates for the rights of African Americans. As a proponent of self-defense, he was able to strengthen the notion of equality and inspire African Americans to vigorously resist racism. Furthermore, his advocacy of Black Nationalism successfully united African Americans at a crucial time during the Civil Rights Movement. The legacy that remained following his death also encouraged the creation of movements whose ideas were formed from Malcolm X's ideology. Although Malcolm X played a relatively positive role in the Civil Rights Movement, his support of hatred for the white population of America and belief in violent protest to rally support contradicted the direction of the movement. Malcolm X criticized fellow civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr and this, coupled with his opposition to integration, created a fundamental disunity within the movement. Therefore, Malcolm X's role in the Civil Rights Movement can only be attributed to all of these aspects, and consequently, to a limited extent Malcolm X played a positive role in the movement of the 1950s and 1960s in America.

By supporting self-defense and inspiring many African Americans to fight racism proactively, Malcolm X was able to provoke positive development in the Civil Rights Movement of the United States during the 1950s and 1960s. His previous associates, The Nation of Islam, validated their right to defend themselves through violence as Allah granted it. They were militant in nature and acted impetuously. However, Malcolm X was a proponent of self-defense. In stark contrast, following his split with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm made the transition from unjustified violence to validating the right to self-defense on political and constitutional grounds. He expressed that if "the forces of the law prove unable, or inadequate, or reluctant to protect Negroes, then those Negroes should use arms, if necessary, to defend themselves." Such logic and rhetoric combined with his oratory brilliance to spur Black Americans to assert their rights and reinforced the notion of equality, specifically equal rights, during the crucial time of the Civil Rights Movement in America. He exclaimed, "It is our moral, legal, and religious right to defend ourselves, just as whites do." Malcolm convinced African Americans that they too deserved similar rights to their white counterparts, hence drawing positive action from his followers.

Malcolm X advocated Black Nationalism in order to generate positive change in the Civil Rights Movement amid the 1950s and 60s in America. Although such views were condemned as extreme and contradictory to the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X justified his stance by expressing that there could "be no black-white unity until first there is some black unity. We cannot think of uniting others, until we have first united among ourselves." Furthermore, he believed that "the brainwashed black man can never learn to stand on his own two feet until he is on his own." That before African-Americans could achieve racial solidarity; they first had to develop their own society and ethical values, including self-help, community-based enterprises promoting positive change. Malcolm X was able to spread such a message and begin the process of uniting the African-American population of America through his phenomenal oratory skills. He explained that racial solidarity could only "be achieved on a broad and durable basis." Other organizations with similar...
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