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Black nationalism

From Academic Kids

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Black nationalist flag
Black nationalism is a political and social movement prominent in the 1960s and early '70s among African Americans in the United States. The movement can be traced back to Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association of the 1920s. The UNIA seeks to acquire economic power and to infuse among blacks, "at home and abroad", a sense of community and group feeling. Many adherents to Black Nationalism assumed the eventual creation of a separate black nation by African Americans. As an alternative to being assimilated by the American nation, which is predominantly white, black nationalists sought to maintain and promote their separate identity as a people of black ancestry. With such slogans as "black power" and "black is beautiful," they also sought to inculcate a sense of pride among blacks.

Black Nationalism is a complex set of beliefs emphasizing the need for the cultural, political, and economic independence of African Americans. On the other hand, Nationalist assumptions inform the daily actions and choices of many diaspora Africans.

Contents

Background

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey urged African Americans to be proud of their race and preached "African Redemption". To this end he founded the Negro World newspaper to disseminate the UNIA's program, the Black Star Line in 1919 to provide steamship transportation, and the Negro Factories Corporation to encourage black economic independence. Garvey attracted thousands of supporters and claimed eleven million members for the UNIA. Garvey set the foundation for all other Black nationalist thought following him including the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X.

Malcolm X

During the decade between 1955 and 1965, while most black leaders worked in the civil rights movement to integrate blacks into mainstream American life, Malcolm X preached the opposite. He maintained that Western culture, and the Judeo-Christian religious traditions on which it is based, was inherently racist. Constantly attacking mainstream civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X declared that nonviolence was the "philosophy of the fool." In response to King's famous "I Have a Dream” speech, Malcolm X quipped, "While King was having a dream, the rest of us Negroes are having a nightmare." Malcolm X believed that black people must develop their own society and ethical values, including the self-help, community-based enterprises that the Black Muslims supported. He also thought that African Americans should reject integration or cooperation with whites. Malcolm was increasingly moving towards a political response to racism, he called for a "black revolution," which he declared would be "bloody" and would renounce any sort of "compromise" with whites. After taking part in a Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), he recanted such extremist opinions and was soon after murdered.

Black Power

Black Power was a political movement expressing a new racial consciousness among blacks in the United States in the late 1960s. Black Power represented both a conclusion to the decade’s civil rights movement and a reaction against the racism that persisted despite the efforts of black activists during the early 1960s. Black Power was influential mainly in the late 1960s. The meaning of Black Power was debated vigorously while the movement was in progress. To some it represented African-Americans' insistence on racial dignity and self-reliance, which was usually interpreted as economic and political independence, as well as freedom from white authority. These themes had been advanced most forcefully in the early 1960s by Malcolm X. He argued that blacks should focus on improving their own communities, rather than striving for complete integration, and that blacks had the right to retaliate against violent assaults. The publication of The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) created further support for the idea of African-American self-determination and had a strong influence on the emerging leaders of the Black Power movement. Other interpreters of Black Power emphasized the cultural heritage of blacks, especially the African roots of their identity. This view encouraged study and celebration of black history and culture. In the late 1960s black college students requested curricula in African-American studies that explored their distinctive culture and history. Still another view of Black Power called for a revolutionary political struggle to reject racism and imperialism in the United States, as well as throughout the world. This interpretation encouraged the unity of nonwhites, including Hispanics and Asians, to improve the quality of their lives.

Black Panther Party

Black Panther Party (BPP), was a militant black political organization originally known as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. It was founded in Oakland, California, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in October 1966. The BPP advocated black self-defense and restructuring American society to make it more politically, economically, and socially equal. The BPP was influenced by the Black Muslim leader, Malcolm X, who called on black people to defend themselves. They also supported the Black Power movement, which stressed racial dignity and self-reliance. The BPP affirmed the right of blacks to use violence to defend themselves and thus became an alternative to more moderate civil rights groups. The BPP combined elements of socialism and Black Nationalism, insisting that if businesses and the government did not provide for full employment, the community should take over the means of production. It promoted the development of strong black-controlled institutions, calling for blacks to work together to protect their rights and to improve their economic and social conditions. The BPP also emphasized class unity, criticizing the black middle class for acting against the interests of other, less fortunate blacks.

See also

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