The power of the fist Essay

This essay has a total of 1118 words and 7 pages.

The power of the fist



The Power of the Fist
*
* Black Power is a phrase that has instilled both pride and hope
*into the souls of black people, while simultaneously striking fear into
*the hearts of whites. 'No two words in contemporary American society have
*been more controversial or misunderstood than Black Power' (Fager, cover).
*This "misunderstanding" is what made the Black Power Movement so receptive
*among African-Americans, but threatening to whites. After
*African-Americans became disenchanted with the Civil Rights Movement, a
*new concept rose to the forefront of black ideology. The Black Power
*Movement began to reshape black consciousness during the mid-sixties, and
*left an everlasting impression on American society. According to Maulana
*Karenga, The Black Power Movement can be " divided into three basic
*tendencies or thrusts: 1) the religious thrusts; 2) the cultural thrust;
*and 3) the political thrust" (Karenga, pg.172). These three thrusts
*united a mass of black people, who shared a common struggle, common
*concerns, and a common consciousness. Throughout this paper I will
*explore these indispensable components of The Black Power Movement,
*focusing on each ones theories and contributions to the struggle for
*economic, political, and social change.
* The strong religious content within the Black Power Movement is
*what really allowed this social movement to appeal to the masses. Without
*this religious element, it is very difficult to assembly a mass movement.
*A key component in the Movements success was its redefining of the current
*world order and providing a moral justification for the struggle. At the
*forefront of this new perspective was both Christian and Islamic
*leadership. The most vocal religious leader during The Black Power
*Movement was the Nation of Islam's' Malcolm X. Malcolm preached Elijah
*Muhammads bold gospel, which painted God black and labeled
*African-Americans as Gods chosen people. This was not the first time
*African-Americans heard such "bold" affirmations to instill racial pride.
*Almost fifty years prior to Malcolm's emergence, Marcus Garvey preached
*similar ideas of racial pride. Diffused by the U.S. government, Garveys
*movement loss its political power, and Elijah Muhammad built upon Garvey's
*foundation of racial solidarity. Malcolms contribution is so important
*because his message broke many of the mental chains that remained from
*slavery. African-Americans no longer believed that it was gods will for
*them to be in a subservient position, and began to speak out. Most
*importantly, Malcolm made black people realize that they had a right to
*defend themselves against anyone who threatened them, their families, and
*community regardless of skin color. Malcolm and the Nation of Islam were
*publicly preaching against one of the biggest Taboo's in American Society.
*"[T]his frightened some white people, because they knew that black people
*would now fight back. They knew that this was precisely what they would
*have long since done if they were subjected to the injustices and
*oppression heaped on blacks" (Carmichael & Hamilton, pg. 53).
*
*The last component of Elijah Muhammad's ideology of racial solidarity was
*economic self-help. During the sixties the Nation of Islam opened
*businesses throughout the black community. This created jobs and boosted
*the economy within the black community. The Nation of Islam could not
*solve all the problems African-Americans faced, but felt Islam was a
*viable and necessary alternative to Christianity. The idea of armed
*self-defense was not exclusive to the Nation of Islam. Surprisingly,
*Christians, under the leadership of Albert Cleage began to adopt similar
*practices. Cleage, similar to Elijah Muhammad, changed the framework of
*the bible to represent his people. "He portrayed Jesus as a Black
*revolutionary who led a national liberation struggle against a white
*power, Rome" (Karenga pg. 173). This was also very different from the
*turn the other cheek, love you enemy methodology African-American
*Christians were familiar with and instituted during the Civil Rights
*Movement. This transformation of Christian belief was very in-tune with
*Black Nationalist theory once African-Americans became disillusioned with
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