Black Power

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The modern American concept emerged from the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. Beginning in 1959, Robert F. Willams, president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, openly questioned the ideology of nonviolence and its domination of the movement's strategy. Williams was supported by prominent leaders such as Ella Baker and James Forman, and opposed by others, such as Roy Wilkins (the national NAACP chairman) and Martin Luther King Jr. In 1961, Maya Angelou, Leroi Jones, and Mae Mallory led a riotous (and widely covered) demonstration at the United Nations in order to protest against the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. Malcolm X, national representative of the Nation of Islam, also launched an extended critique of nonviolence and integrationism at this time. After seeing the increasing militancy of blacks in the wake of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and wearying of Elijah Muhammad's domination of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm left that organization and engaged with the mainstream of the Civil Rights Movement. Malcolm was now open to voluntary racial integration as a long-term goal, but he still supported armed self-defense, self-reliance, and black nationalism; he became a simultaneous spokesman for the militant wing of the Civil Rights Movement and the non-separatist wing of the Black Power movement.