The Civil Rights movement was considerably influenced by unconventional and radical views of Malcolm X, who managed to carry out the transition from reforming movement to a radical and revolutionary movement of the international level; he completely transformed the its ideological background and organizational hierarchy that significantly facilitated the human rights introduction to the prejudiced society.
It is universally accepted that American History witnessed the eternal fight against racial discrimination and human rights equality. Although the state acknowledged that every citizen was entailed with the same rights and laws, there were no similar principles within mixed-raced society. Civil Rights movement that appeared in the second half of the twentieth century reflected indignation and revolt against the infringement of state laws so that it strived to reform current society and to abolish the public act of racial and gender discrimination against Afro-Americans in the Southern part of the United States. The Civil Rights movement was considerably influenced by unconventional and radical views of Malcolm X, who managed to carry out the transition from reforming movement to a radical and revolutionary movement of the international level; he completely transformed its ideological background and organizational hierarchy that significantly facilitated the human rights introduction to the prejudiced society.
Before ushering in a world of desperate fight against racism, Malcolm X had overcome many adversities and had gone through a difficult path of personality shaping. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925 in a family of Baptist minister who preached against racism. (Davis, L, 8). After his father’s death and mother’s illness, he was forced to move to a foster family. In school, Malcolm already perceived the dominated superiority of white people that restrain the life of African Americans. His opposition to the existed inequality supported by law revealed on his entering the criminal world. Since he could get the desirable job, he became a hustler. His criminal existence shaped his revolutionary spirit and taught him the street traditions of survival. Being a teenager he cognized the racist society where African Americans were considered as super-exploited tool framed within the working class. Therefore, Malcolm X’s descent into criminality was the outcome of limitations imposed by the white people who were directed by the stereotyped assumptions (Sales, 32).
His criminal activity was later punished so that Malcolm was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment (Sales, 33). There, in jail, he started his fateful transformation as a personality. The imprisonment was a kind of opportunity given to ponder on the essence of life. Owing to his newly accepted Islamic religion, he learnt ho help other and ho to find the goal in his life. His friend Bimbi helped him to recognize the actual values and to advocate the human rights peacefully. Hence, under the influence of his new inspirer, Malcolm became the leader of Nation of Islam whose ideology was revealed through the puritan ideology of self-respect and human rights defense.
The prison turned out to be an educatory establishment for Malcolm that impelled him to enter the fight as a member of Muslim ministry. He encouraged the rise of Temple building thus improving the anti-social outlook on the Black Nation. Malcolm X became the leading spokesman of this organization and was often identified with Elijah Muhammad (Sales, 36). His active participation in the Nation of Islam activity made everyone aware of this organization. Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca converted his into an Orthodox Muslim. On returning, he established the Organization of Afro-American Unity. However, his contradictions and disagreements with Muhammad made him leave the Nation of Islam and resort to the Civil Rights movement.
Malcolm’s entering in the Civil Right movement significantly transformed the ideology and major concepts since initially its participants accepted the violent and merciless fight against racial separation. So far, the rapid post-War industrial development aggravated the social treatment of Afro-American as the labor force and effective tool in chase of technological advancement. This and the rise of awareness stimulated the emergence of the protest movement in the South. The growth of Afro-American working class triggered the development of Civil Rights organizations in the South of the United States (Sales, 35). The movement consisted of the working class representatives who were still devoted to the church. Thus, the leading meetings were mostly held in the church where the supporter deliberately supported their religion that presupposed justice and equity irrespective of race and nationality. They believed that everyone was equal in the face of God and could not be subjected to slavery (Davis J. 136).
In this respect, Malcolm X was a crucial figure that considerably effected the concept Civil Rights movement. His nonviolence approach approved the religious principles and justified their goals and methods. His revolutionary outlooks made him the central force of the Movement opening the possibility of its transformation of rural African-American community to the “an urban proletariat” (Sales, 38). Inspired by the religious views, he taught them to respect their nation and tradition. He became the mentor of the movement that give rise to new strategies of the Black liberal movements. He also initiated the emergence of social force that facilitates the development of the favorable political environment. Additionally, the conceptual ground framed by Malcolm X fostered the consolidation of Civil Rights movement with the African Unity and managed to involve it into the world revolutionary movement.
The introduction of Black Nationalism contributed to the establishment of the now ideological model within the framework of the Civil Rights Movement. Malcolm X was the first person who infused this concept pertaining to the unconventional theology of Nation of Islam. This ideology contradicted of eternal and perpetuated concept of rigorous anti-racist spirit. The activists of Black national movement were confused with deviated Malcolm’s outlook on the racial discrimination. He was confident that growing protest was only motivated by the hatred of White population but not the rational and consistent goals. Hence, the rise of rebellion originated in the alien perception of the law system that was destined to defend white people rights (Sales, 41).
Malcolm’s views were getting popular among his supporters since by putting forward the ideas about the black pride and the black power. He viewed the Black nation more like Africans rather than Americans. He did not recognize assimilation of the Black nation within the white society that was corrupt and racially prejudiced. Instead, his plan was to be separated within a community deprived of inequality and human rights limitation. Malcolm X wanted to separate set free the African Americans from the mental slavery and exclude them from the white population (Peterson, 165). To put it in other words, the supporter of Islamic religion did not see any necessity to prove their independence to the European race. Hence, his intention was to involve the Black power into the isolated development process.
Malcolm’s ideology differed greatly from the ideas expressed by Martin Luther King Jr. Unlike King, Malcolm disagreed with the values fixed in the white community that he was reluctant to accept them as the ideal of the Civil Rights movement that longed to be recognized by the American democracy. He fully rejected the white interference and believed that African Americans had much in store for their own diligent and full-fledged society.
The liberal view of Muhammad’s envoy made the black people to work out their own philosophy of life that would improved their outlooks on racism and exclude the violent spirit of Civil Rights movement (Peterson, 166). His supporters did not always accept the peaceful intentions of Malcolm as the core weapon on the fight against racism. Nevertheless, his reputation of a gifted speaker and debater gave hope to the African Americans concerning successful outcome of the confrontation.
In conclusion, it is necessary to stress the importance of Malcolm X’s ideas on the further development of the Civil Right movement. His contribution to the defense of African-Americans was highly appraised. The actual events and psychological analysis was brightly illustrated in the screened version Malcolm X. The brilliant play of Denzel Washington broadened the actual outlook on the charismatic leader. The actor managed to portray this figure in the light of Civil Right movement and to bring a real Malcolm to life on sceen. Washington tried to penetrate to the soul of Muslim leader and to reveal the fate of Black America through his character (Lee, 1992). In general, Malcolm X considerably effected the Civil Right movement and changed the racial ideology and mental behavior of the Black Nation. Additionally, he persuaded his supporters that religion and self-respect are of great value for the African people who deserved to live in their own society.
Davis, Jack The civil rights movement. US: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001
Davis, Lucie. Malcolm X: a photo-illustrated biography. US: Capstone Press, 1997.
Malcolm X. Lee Spike. Washington Denzel, Lee Spike. DVD: standard edition, 1999.
Peterson David, Willoughby Douglas, Willoughby Susan. Civil Rights in the USA, 1863-1980. UK: Hienemann, 2001.
Sales, William W. From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. US: South End Press, 1994.