The Black Power Movement

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The Black Power Movement of the 1960’s

Andrew Fleming
History 1700-021
Professor Hansen
July 13, 2012

Andrew Fleming
History 1700-021
Professor Hansen
July 13, 2012
The Black Power Movement in the 1960’s
I grew up in primarily an all African American neighborhood in northern California. I have heard all of the things that my friends have said: that the color of their skin makes life harder for them, and that white people see them differently than they see me. I shrugged it off as comments from people that liked to make excuses for the lack of effort on their part. They would tell me that they were treated differently than I was, and that these things will never change. I would later find out that they were right. I know that all white people are not racist or think black people are criminals, but I would see the way that white people notice only my black friends as if I wasn’t there. I would watch them clinch their purse or cross the street, rather than taking a chance of walking near them. My friends would say that the battle for equal rights still goes on today. I also remember one of my closest friends always putting his fist in the air saying “Black Power” with a laugh, knowing that I thought it was funny. Well, was the black power movement funny? I think not.

The Black Power Movement is an important part of American history. The movement began in the 1960s and continued into the 1970s. It grew from the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The Black Power Movement started during a time when African Americans were said to be treated as equals. However that was not the case. The term “Black Power” was first heard through the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) leader Stokely Carmichael’s speech at the March Against Fear in 1966. The phrase “Black Power” very quickly became a movement for equality in black communities and a battle for African American independence. The phrase “Black Power” was portrayed as frightening and associated with violence. With the help of the media, this became the view of Black Power within the white communities.

Many whites thought that the “Black Power” slogan was voiced with the threat of violence. Blacks believed that they had to stand up for their already given rights. Both sides had a point-of-view that they were passionate about. This led to a controversial time in American history. It led to a time where blacks and whites were at the point of destruction. The work of African American leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. were at risk of being forgotten. All the struggles that non-violent Civil Rights activist had worked hard for were threatened.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and, in my opinion, was one of the most significant voices in the African American struggle to gain equal rights. Giving his “I have a dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963 gave millions of African Americans hope that one day they too would be an equal brother in this great nation.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation” (King, par. 1)
He knew that uniting the people of all races would bring them together on a common ground, where no man was better than the other. He believed in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He believed in the promise that all men black or white, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. During the Civil Rights Movement, there were other activists as well. Some of them did not see the way that Martin Luther King Jr. did-Men like Malcolm X.

Malcolm X, after serving ten years in prison and introduced to the Nation of Islam (NOI), became one of their great leaders. Although Malcolm X had done things in his life that...
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