Why Some Black Activists Rejected the Approach of Martin Luther King to Civil Rights
Some black activists rejected the approach of Martin Luther King in
his struggle to gain full citizenship rights for black Americans; this
was mainly because they followed the ideas of another black leader who
called himself Malcolm X.
Martin Luther King, a black Christian, gained a lot of success through
his belief that the only way to achieve civil rights and equality was
by non violent and peaceful forms of protest. He encouraged a variety
of activities, including protest marches, boycotts, demonstrations,
and refusal to abide by segregation laws. In 1955, ...view middle of the document...
So when the
3,300 black men, women and children were peacefully demonstrating for
civil rights, they were attacked by the police with tear gas, fire
hoses, dogs and even electric cattle prods. The police frequently
arrested protesters, but ignored the white people who attacked them.
Some blacks gave up on King’s methodology since they were getting no
justice. Television cameras exposed loudmouthed, uncivilized whites
swearing and attacking the black people who were getting a beating but
not striking back. This shocked much of the world, and created great
publicity that King’s wanted. Some blacks were in strong disagreement
about King’s methods, they thought that King was helping the whites by
allowing them to beat Blacks; they believed the whites were winning
the fight since there was slow change in black peoples’ lives.
Although King had achieved a lot in the South, such as changes in the
law regarding civil rights, there were still many problems which he
was helpless against in the North. He was less familiar with the
conditions in the North and had no grip on the severe problems for
black people there. The black people in the northern states rejected
his non-violent methods, this was because they were less interested in
King’s aims for civil rights, but more concerned with their economic
and social problems. There was serious violence and racial
discrimination in the North, law was not being enforced as the
government was in White hands. Northern blacks were very poor, 50% of
blacks lived in high unemployment, health care was inadequate and
public transport was poor. The blacks were not aware of all of King’s
achievements in the South. It became clear that race problems in the
Northern cities were serious and perhaps harder to address than
segregation in the South because these problems were not the results
of specific laws that could be changed. King was helpless with these
problems and so some black people in the north did not support King.
While King was trying to deal with the problems in the North, younger
activists challenged his leadership of the civil rights movement,
criticizing his strategy and his appeals to moral idealism; they no
longer believed in King’s approach. Soon the group which called
themselves ‘Black Power’ emerged, influenced by Malcolm X, a Black
Some black people opposed King, they looked to Malcolm X. The Black
Power movement which was led by Malcolm X believed that equality would
only be achieved by violence.
There were big differences between activists like Black Power and
Martin Luther King. For many young urban blacks, Malcolm X’s ideas
were inspiring. Malcolm X believed violence was a means of getting
equal rights, for young people who were not optimistic about allowing
themselves to take a beating from a...