The Civil Rights Movement in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s Research Task – Report Blake Walker Year 11 Modern History Malcolm X Investigate the life and background of the individual/group Malcolm X was born on the 19th May, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, by the name of Malcolm Little. Malcolm was one of eight children to Louise Norton Little who was an attentive busy housewife. His father, Earl Little who was an abrupt Baptist Minister and was also a strong supporter of Marcus Garvey, leader of the Black Nationalism movement.
Whilst growing up he was a focused intelligent individual with determination to pursue a career path in Law, which was frowned upon for African Americans to pursue. In Junior High Malcolm graduated at the top of his class proving his perseverance and strong sense of self and direction, but when one of Malcolm’s favourite teacher’s discouraged him by stating that “His dream of becoming a lawyer was no realistic goal for a nigger”, Malcolm lost all sense of direction, sending him into a downward spiral eventually resulting in his lack of interest towards education and finally, his departure from school.
The death of his father sent him into a further downward spiral which began his questioning into the issues relating to racism due to his father’s death, as the victim of a prejudice White Supremacist group known as the Klu Klux Klan. He then began a life in Boston, Massachusetts where he would work various odd jobs for little money, until he turned to a life of crime where he moved to the slums of New York. Malcolm eventually became a leader of various gambling and prostitution rings as well as a distributor of narcotics. In 1946 Malcolm was arrested and charged with burglary charges and was convicted to 10 years imprisonment.
Whilst he was in prison, he decided to further his education and as a result, Malcolm came to a valuable point in his life where he became fascinated by the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, a valued prominent teacher of the Nation of Islam religion. Describe the significance of the individual/group to civil rights issues in the USA Malcolm X was an immensely significant individual to the civil rights movement as Malcolm soon rose to becoming the most prominent national spokesman of the “Black Power” movement, as he specifically worked to spread he political and religious goals of the Nation of Islam on a wide scale. Malcolm acted as an Inspiration proving that African Americans can rise up from the hardship and deprivation and stand up for what they believe in regardless of how much cruel discrimination and neglection you may receive. Continuously over the years of the movement, he encouraged young African Americans to support the initiative through powerful speaking and his remarkable debating skills which enabled him to succeed in recruiting over 30,000 young African Americans.
They were enticed by the ideology that in order to achieve freedom, you have to fight for it and that was the only way to achieve this. This view amongst African Americans (especially younger generations) was extremely popular. It promised to battle racism directly which to most, many thought this view would achieve the goals of the movement over a shorter time p and would be far more effective than the non violent initiatives used by individuals such as Martin Luther King which proved to become less effective over the years.
Many believed that this was the only hope of achieving rights for African Americans and reinforces how Malcolm X played such a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement as he offered hope to the African Americans which were an alternative to the slow, ineffective non violent demonstrations. This provided them with an opportunity to stand up for themselves as individuals and African Americans as a nation, securing a better future for the African American in all areas of life.
Outline the individual/groups beliefs and ideas and explain the forces that shaped their attitudes towards civil rights at this time Due to Malcolm X’s religious beliefs being a devout follower of the Nation of Islam, the teachings of Honourable Elijah Muhammad become the foundation of the Black Nationalist Philosophy and Malcolm’s beliefs, which were reaching supremacy over whites by achieving political and economic power as well as improved working conditions for African Americans.
Malcolm X also believed in the goal of achieving a separate state for African Americans through pursuing self-determination (which is an individual’s right to exercise the control they have over their own lives and determine their destiny). Although, the majority of the Islamic scriptures and teachings were non-racist, the Nation of Islam believed in racist teachings depicting that the whites as ‘devils’ who needed to be destroyed to empower Black Rule. Due to this perception of Whites, Malcolm did not want a Nation where the white an could interact with the darker man, but he encouraged segregation amongst Americans. In order to contest the brutal uphill battle they were fighting, Malcolm believed African Americans needed to become militant and aggressive action in order to overcome racism, otherwise there was no point fighting because in order to achieve freedom, you have to fight for it. This view was adapted because of the brutality demonstrated against African Americans and it was necessary as a act of self defence, as Malcolm X states: “I don’t go along with any kind of non violence unless everybody’s going to be non violent.
If they make the Ku Klux Klan non-violent, I’ll be non violent. ” (Retrospective Year 11 Modern History Pg 140 Source 7. 18 lines 1-2). These beliefs and ideology held by Malcolm X, were derived from the Nation of Islam which varied from other Muslim beliefs and were adapted by Elijah Muhammad to combat the discrimination and improve the conditions and rights of the African American individual and due to Malcolm’s stern stringent followings of the religion, Malcolm followed them and endeavoured to spread the beliefs of the religion to whoever was willing to listen.
Malcolm’s beliefs towards segregation were shaped by his father’s beliefs which where instilled in Malcolm from a young age. Soon after Malcolm separated from the Nation of Islam, his beliefs changed when he visited Mecca, a city considered by Muslims to be the holiest city of Islam. His views which he stood by so passionately, he found soon became outdated and idealistic, which enabled him to see that regardless of skin complexion, people of all colour could have different opinions and not all whites were against African Americans and their movement.
Malcolm began to work with white people who wanted to join his cause of ending discrimination and gaining more rights by helping his newly found organization, Muslim Mosque Inc, that’s purpose aimed to achieve goals for the Black community. Identify and account for differing historical perspectives and interpretations of the individual/group concerned As do with majority of all prominent historical figures, there are differing historical perspectives and interpretations of Malcolm X and the cause he righteously represented.
The differing perspectives of Malcolm X are regarding his methods of demonstrating the goals of the movement which to some communicated different messages, often ignoring the intended message. For many, Malcolm X was seen as a great leader of the Civil Rights Movement with a vision, a remarkable Inspiration that uplifted a nation. To others, Malcolm was a careless renegade who used vicious tactics and some speculate by arguing both. Though it has been exactly 47 years since he drew his last breath at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, Malcolm X’s life and legacy continues to affect many in the Harlem and Columbia Communities. His namesake street, Malcolm X Boulevard, lies at the centre of stores, and homes of West Harlem and he still serves as a cultural anchor and political and moral inspiration with enduring power and direct relevance in modern America and throughout the world” (http://www. columbiaspectator. com/2012/02/24/malcolm-x).
This perception given by Emily Neil, a Senior Staff Writer at the Columbia Spectator is a prime example of the positive perceptions held in regards to his courageous decisions standing up for his people which in result have shaped our society today. On the other hand, some argue that Malcolm X was a radical individual whose beliefs were outrageous and sinister due to his militant methods and beliefs regarding supremacy over whites. These perceptions have been outweighed by the result of Malcolm X’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement.
Malcolm X’s general perception in history has led to him being been remembered as one of the greatest and most influential individual’s of the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans in history. Bibliography Author: Unknown. Year: Unknown, Title: Biography [Internet] Place of Publication: Estate Of Malcolm X, Accessed: 16th March 2012, Publisher: http://www. malcolmx. comAvailable From: http://www. malcolmx. com/about/bio. html Author: Unknown. Year: 2001, Title: Malcolm X [Internet] Place of Publication:Biography Recourse Centre: Gale Group, Accessed: 16th March 2012, Publisher: www. fricawithin. com Available From: www. africawithin. com/bios/malcolm_x. htm Author: J. D. Scrimgeour. Year: 1997, Title: About Malcolm X [Internet] Place of Publication: The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, Accessed: 16th March 2012, Publisher: www. africawithin. com Available From: http://www. english. illinois. edu/maps/poets/s_z/smith/malcolmx. htm Author: A, Enisuoh. Year: 1993, Title: The Life and Legacy of Malcolm X [Internet] Place of Publication: Online Publications, Accessed: 19th March 2012, Publisher: http://www. ocialistalternative. org/ Available From: http://www. socialistalternative. org/literature/malcolmx/ Author: E, Neil. Year: 2012, Title: Malcolm X [Internet] Place of Publication: The Columbia Spectator, Accessed: 21st March 2012, Publisher: http://www. columbiaspectator. com Available From: http://www. columbiaspectator. com/2012/02/24/malcolm-x Authors: M, Anderson, A, Low and I,Keese. Year: 2008. Title: Retrospective Year 11 Modern History. Pubisher: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd. Place of Publication: Queensland. Page Numbers 138 – 140.