Black Nationalism Movement: Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King

Black Nationalism was a social and political movement prominent among majority of the African-Americans in the United States between the 1960s throughout the early 1970s. traditional the roots of the movement traces back to the 1920s Universal Negro Improvement Association led by Marcus Garvey. Basically, the Marcus Garvey movement sought to create the sense of group feeling and community among the minority Black Americans in the predominantly white American society that was exponentially oppressive to the less-dominant communities such as the African-Americans. The Black Nationalist movement was initiated as a reaction to the racial prejudice by the white majority; hence created an exponential gap in the reality of discrimination and segregation in America as opposed to the American Society ideals promoted by the Constitution of the United States of America .

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Prior to Marcus Garvey abolitionists such as Martin Delany were influential in shaping the historical roots of the black nationalism. Delany advocated that freed Africans should be allowed to return to Africa to assist in nation-building. He envisioned that it would make the lives of African both in their motherland as well as in the US better. However, the main influence was by Marcus Garvey especially through his United Negro Improvement Association and his essay titled “The Future as I See It.” Therefore, Garvey’s vision helped influence the later day black nationalists who advocated for social, cultural, commercial, industrial, religious and political equality and independence for the Black society in America. Therefore, the thesis statement of this research paper will claim that; Black Nationalism Movement was as a reaction to the historic and traditional discrimination and segregation of the minority communities in the American society especially the African-Americans who were oppressed by the white majority .

The central players in the black nationalism movement were the leaders such as; Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Frantz Fanon. These leaders were critical into turning the black population towards a common goal of resisting the oppressive and racially prejudiced American society. Basically, they were enigmatic, proficient speakers and knowledgeable of the history, laws and most importantly had a vision for the Black community. For instance, Marcus Garvey had the personal magnetism that endeared people to him. Garvey also understood the black psychology and the particular psychology particularly for confrontation that enabled him create the movements that would identify with the African-Americans to their souls . Malcom X advocated for the reclamation of the mascunity and pride of the black people and his tirelessly worked to integrate African-Americans to the mainstream American way of life. Malcolm insisted for separatism and advocated for violence as the only way to regain political, social-cultural and religious control among the black community . Stokely Carmichael theory insisted that integration of the blacks would harm their development. Carmichael wanted for the American society to allow the colored minority run their social, cultural and political sovereignty . Basically, he wanted an independent black society that would not be achieved if African-Americans were integrated into the white predominant institutions that could continue depicting them as second class citizens. Frantz Fanon was a French author who analyzed how colonial subjugation impacted on the black person’s psyche. His book “Black Skin, White Masks” that reviewed his struggles as a black man and; “The Wretched of the Earth” that analyzed the roles of race, class, violence and national culture in the struggle for decolonization among the blacks . Basically, these books served as great tools for the leaders of the black nationalism movement to quote from and hence improve their speeches in order to convince the mases of the sanctity of their agenda.

Black Nationalism Movement was primarily reacting to racial prejudice, lack of freedom, social inequality and injustices directed at the African-Americans. However, the Black Nationalists leaders such as Malcolm X also criticized the mainstream leaders of the Civil Rights Movements by insinuated that they collaborated with the whites. For instance, Malcolm criticized the “I have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King by claiming that; while Luther was having his purported dreams his fellow blacks were having nightmares. Basically, this meant that the mainstream civil rights non-violence approaches were not effective in the American society; hence the need to engage in violence and revolutions. Basically, the loss of land owned by blacks was fundamental and the black nationalists advocated for violent reclamation of the lands taken from them. Another event that led to the increase of the black nationalists was the when in 1964 the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was defeated. Basically, there were also trends in the rise of attacks against supporters and civil rights activists and hence the activists show the ineffectiveness of the non-violence resistance strategies. Therefore, when activists such as Stokely Carmichael was appointed the Student Leader for Nonviolent Committee he radically effected an organizational change that advocated for exclusivity in the black community through his “black power” slogan. Hence, he was able to create more social, economic and political power for blacks through ensuring they forcefully gained individual respect from the whites.

The goals of the black nationalism movement were numerous but primary the goal was to create an equal American society as democratically depicted in the American ideals. Basically, the other major goals of black nationalism were; the creation of a wedge between the blacks and white by advocating for black separatism. The black nationalists also wanted to create the feeling of pride among the African-Americans community. Black nationalism also aimed at creation of an American society that was economically empowered and self-sufficient. also However, they also had other short term goals and long term goals. For instance, the black nationalist goals were to oppose the nonviolent strategies of the mainstream civil rights activists and embrace violent revolutionary strategies. They also advocated for violent reclamation of the black people lands especially in the South taken from them by the predominant white supremacists. Black nationalism also wanted to fight the increased police brutality against the black people. There was also the endeavor to advocate for more employment opportunities for African-American and better education, health and housing services. Essentially, black nationalism advocated for better industrial and commercial prospects for blacks and integrating the black community into the real American lifestyle. Basically, the goal of the black nationalism movement was to fasten the struggle for racial equality in the American society through violent and revolutionary strategies opposed by the mainstream civil rights activists .

Tactics used by the black nationalism movement were diverse depending on the leader and he particular situation at a particular moment during the civil rights struggle. For instance, the leaders used essays and literature to reach out to the masses for example; “The Future as I See It” by Marcus Garvey. “Black Skin, White Masks” by Frantz Fanon. Slogans and powerful speeches were used as a tool to provoke the African-American’s emotions into joining the struggle. For instance, Malcolm X critically criticized and belittled the Martin Luther led nonviolent activism. Stokely Carmichael utilized his “Black Power” slogan to effectively empower the black community into reclaiming their lost rights and self-respect . Finally, education was also a major key to ensure the black nationalism could empower the black people by teaching them of philosophy and critical way of thinking and making articulate judgements of the oppressive American society dominated by the whites.

Black Nationalism Movement had both its failures and successes. For instance, it successfully enabled the black community to express their indignations towards the white dominated system and advocate for reforms in the struggle for justice and inequality. It also pushed the government to enforce the due processes as depicted in the 14th Amendment and ensure equal protection of the black people before the law . Essentially, through black nationalism the blacks were able to proclaim their pride in being black in a society that constantly depicted that black people were to be subordinates to the white people. Therefore, the movement helped enhance the self-determination of the blacks, their pride and claim to black racial identity. The movement also encouraged changes in education, culture and political landscapes in America; and influenced later groups such as the LGBTQ to pursue their particular challenges in overcoming discrimination in the society . however, the black nationalism failed through its violence and destructive strategies that led to maiming, deaths and destruction of property. Their attraction towards the ex-cons and prisoners also encouraged lawlessness among the young black men in the society. Practically, through their revolutionary spread of hate the black nationalism movement also encouraged spread of hatred in the society just like the white supremacist groups.

In conclusion, the initiation of the black nationalism movement was primarily noble. However, by encouraging hatred for the whites, violence and revolutionary methods of reclaiming land and civil rights; was exponentially deterrent to the American ideals democratically promoted in the society. nonetheless, the positive and lasting impact of the leaders is influential even in the modern day struggles for social-justice reforms. Therefore, the impact of the black nationalism movement in the struggle for civil rights is critical for the history of the American society and its endeavor to ensure total integration and equality among the Americans; despite, their social, racial or political alienation. Therefore, the thesis statement of this research paper is justified in its claim that; Black Nationalism Movement was as a reaction to the historic and traditional discrimination and segregation of the minority communities in the American society especially the African-Americans who were oppressed by the white majority.

07 April 2022

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