Presentation on theme: "Black Power Did it help or hinder the Civil Rights Movement? Fight the power!"— Presentation transcript:
Black Power Did it help or hinder the Civil Rights Movement? Fight the power!
Students in the 1960s
Fight the power!
Black Panthers at Capitol
Many black people felt the civil rights movement was achieving the economic, social and political liberation of the race. Some of them, more radical, were disgusted with the slow pace of reform, and felt the need to speed things up and force the issue directly.
Among these outspoken black people was Malcolm X, a black Muslim who demanded not just equality, but advocated a black revolution as a response to the oppression and inequality black people experienced. Malcolm X looked at the history of black people in America and pointed out how they were still suffering from slave mentality on the part of both the white establishment, and their own thinking.
"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom. " - Malcolm X
Around this time, black students on college campuses were demanding classes that focused on black history and minority studies, rather than the standard white version of history. Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) chairman, Stokely Charmichael, used the term Black Power to create an awareness among blacks of their human rights and ability to change their own circumstances without reliance on the white power structure for improving the lot of black people
Stokely Carmichael & Eldrigde Cleaver "The struggle of our people for freedom has progressed to the form where all of us must take a stand either for or against the freedom of our people You are either with Your People or against them. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem." - Eldridge Cleaver
Eldridge Cleaver's landmark bestselling book, Soul on Ice, broke new literary ground by airing Black people's grievences against white society, and pointing out that black anger was rooted in hundreds of years of psychological oppression by whites. Cleaver went on to become the Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party.
The Black Panther Party was founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale and embraced the teachings of Malcolm X. The Black Panthers set out to change the way black people were being treated in America. First they wanted to protect blacks from police harassment and brutality. To this end, they advocated arming black people with weapons and using them when necessary to defend oneself. When you realize that most of the leaders of the Black Panthers were former US military men, many of whom served in Vietnam, you know they weren't bluffing.
"No matter how much money you make in the black community, when you go into the white world you are still a nigger, you are still a nigger, you are still a nigger." - Stokely Carmichael
The second thing the Panthers wanted to achieve was economic and political equality for black people. To achieve this they felt it necessary to reject the existing system and set about creating an independent self-supporting political and economic system. Black Panthers setup many new community services including feeding the poor, teaching young children black history and black pride and free medical services.
"We have dedicated our lives, our blood, to the freedom and liberation of our people, and nothing, no force can stop us from achieving our goal. If it is necessary to destroy the United States of America, then let us destroy it with a smile on our faces." - Eldridge Cleaver
But most significantly, the Black Panthers preached revolution, and if an armed struggle was needed, they were ready. The Panthers were perhaps the most credible threat to the existing American society in that they were well organized, highly motivated, very well armed and trained. And given the state of civil rights in the country in the late 60s, the time was right.
1968 Olympics At a press conference after the event Tommie Smith said: "If I win I am an American, not a black American. But if I did something bad then they would say 'a Negro'. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight." Smith admitted he had raised his right fist to represent black power in America, while John Carlos raised his left fist to represent black unity.Tommie Smith
"A Wall Street Journal sampling of opinion among black citizens in four metropolitan areas across the nation (SF, NY, Cleveland and Chicago) indicates a clear majority of blacks strongly support both the goals and methods of the Black Panthers. " - Wall St. Journal
But their leaders became targets for the police, and a number of busts and shootouts resulted in the Panther leadership either being killed or incarcerated. Yet the Panthers managed to inspire many black people to become more active in their communities and to fight the system. Likewise the threat they represented to the white status quo and to black conservatives, was a shot across America's bow, forcing it to change course in dealing with minority rights.
Fight the power!
Race riots of late 1960s Fight the power!
Race Riots Watts riot in ghetto, deaths 1000 injuries 3500 rioters and looters arrested $40million damage done to largely white- owned businesses 238 other race riots
Fight the power!
Achievements of Black Power Groups such as the Black Panthers kept the economic position of Black Americans on the political agenda through their Ten- Point Program. It inspired a new confidence in Black culture – music, arts etc
MLK Response MLK could not ignore Black powers rhetoric and spoke increasingly of ‘Black pride’ and ‘revolution rather than reform’
Negative achievements Contributed to demise of effective CR movement? CORE achieved little after the radicals took over Ghetto rioters & armed Black Panthers helped decrease the white sympathy that had been key to the progress for the non- violent civil rights activists
Why did BP decline? Unrealistic aims Sexism Poor organisation Govt opposition
What had BP achieved? Positive Raised Black morale Some practical help in ghettos Drew attention to ghetto problems Negative Ghettos remained the same Alienated whites Damaged CR movement?