Civil Rights Movement vs Black Panthers Essay

This essay has a total of 1447 words and 7 pages.

Civil Rights Movement vs Black Panthers

The Civil Rights Movement vs. The Black Liberation Movement

On The Duty of Civil Disobedience, written by Henry David Thoreau, explains that civil
disobedience is the act of standing for your beliefs even though they are against the law.
Thoreau goes on to say that the government (because it is ruled by the majority) is not
always right for everyone especially the individual and the minority. Over the course of
American history, there have been many different groups formed for the purpose of civil
disobedience. The two that I am going to focus on are the activists of the Civil Rights
Movement and the Black Panthers of the Black Liberation Movement. The Civil Rights
Movement began in 1954 with the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education. It was
basically lead by Martin Luther King Jr. whose teachings were of peaceful protesting and
boycotting in order to achieve the goals of integration and equality for Black Americans
(Small). The Black Liberation Movement started a few years later in 1960 and was later
taken over and popularized by the Black Panthers in 1966. The basis of this movement was
not just black equality but also black independence by any and every means necessary. The
Panthers wanted blacks to be in control of their own neighborhoods (Acoli). These two
protest movements had similar but at the same time very different platforms. The
difference their effectiveness was caused by the difference in the techniques.

The similarities in the two programs would be the things that they did for the community.
Even though the Panthers were more violent in their ways they still had a positive message
to send out. Both the Civil Rights movement and the Black Liberation

Page 2
movement were meant to uplift the black people in America. They were both very community
based, but they just felt differently about the techniques needed to help their people

The Civil Rights Movement was a much more peaceful protest than the Black Liberation
Movement because people like Martin Luther King were at the fore front in the fight for
black civil rights. The purpose if this movement was to gain equality for

Black Americans. The activists of the Civil Rights Movement were protesting for things
like the integration of schools and other public places, and equal rights under the law.
Martin Luther King was striving for his people to be seen and treated as equals to their
white counterparts. The protest would mostly consist of sit-ins, marching, and
boycotting. The activists of this movement preached non-violence and peaceful protest.
For example, during many sit-ins the police would get involved. Usually this meant
violence, but not by the civil rights activists who were taught not to retaliate. The
protestors would take brutal beatings and do nothing in return (Small).

On the other hand is the Black Liberation movement, which was headed by the Black
Panthers. This movement leaned more towards black separation in order to form their own
equal communities. The Panthers believed that Black Americans would never be equals in a
“white world” and therefore they must form their own. Not only did the Black Liberation
Movement believe in separation, they also believed that aggression was needed to reach
this goal. In the official Black Panther Party Platform and Program the Second Amendment,
which is the right to bear arms, is used to justify why the Panther Party always carried
guns. The Platform even used the preamble to the Declaration of

Page 3
Independence as part of their argument. The end their official Platform with, “When, in
the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political
bonds which have connected them with another, …” ( This was the Black
Panthers’ main goal, to separate from White Americans, and did not feel that passive
behavior was effective. The Panthers thought that if violence was used to try and stop
their cause than violence was needed to keep their cause going. Some of the major beliefs
and techniques of the Panther party were self-defense, which for them meant being heavily
armed at all times; mass organization, which meant serving the people; and using
propaganda, which meant spreading their message through newspapers, posters, leaflets,
rallies, etc. For this movement the simple belief was that blacks have the right to
Continues for 4 more pages >>