Black Power as an Alternative to the Non-violent Civil Rights Movement in The USA

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil disobedience, Nonviolent resistance Pages: 50 (18837 words) Published: February 11, 2014

English Language and Literature
Teaching English Language and Literature for Secondary Schools

Black Power as an Alternative to the Non-violent Civil Rights Movement in the USA

Master’s Diploma Thesis



African American civil rights movement and African American studies in general have been a field of a great scholarly interest in the last decades. Various courses on African American studies have been taught at American as well as European universities, and numerous academic works have been published. So it was no coincidence that a course titled The Politics of Race and Gender in American Culture: African American Writers captured my attention when I was an exchange student at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece in the 2007-2008 academic year. The course was designed to provide an overview of African American literature and culture and various works were analyzed from the perspective of gender and race. Ms. Domna Pastourmatzi, PhD. was a wonderful lecturer and it was right in her course when I chose to write a comparative essay on the rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as my final assignment. Years later, that assignment inspired me to explore the area of the American civil rights movement more in depth, focusing on different ideological streams within it. I clearly remember that reading of Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place, and especially the story of Kiswana Browne, helped me understand that not all the black people shared the same view about how the protest movement for civil rights should operate and what campaigns and activities it should involve. It also made me consider what the main differences between the non-violent generation and the Black Power generation of the movement were, and why the young Black Power generation was critical of the prior non-violent movement. Based on these findings, I decided to analyze in my master’s thesis if the Black Power movement, which partly based its ideology and program on the criticism and a supposed failure of the non-violent civil rights movement, achieved any significant goals, and therefore if it could be considered more successful and influential than the non-violent movement. To do this, I am going to analyze both the movements’ programs and the most significant and illustrative campaigns that brought about some impact, no matter if positive or negative. The thesis is divided into six chapters, with the first one and the last one being the Introduction and Conclusion, respectively. The second chapter titled “Non-violent Civil Rights Movement” first surveys the most important milestones of the African American civil rights struggle from the 1860s up to the 1950s, and consequently concentrates on some of the civil rights cases and campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s that I find most important and representative. Important personalities such as Martin Luther King, Jr. are not left out of this chapter, either. The third chapter, as its title “Formation of the Black Power Movement as an Alternative” suggests, is concerned with the creation of the Black Power movement as the young generation’s preferred alternative to the already existing non-violent movement. Moreover, it also attempts to explain what is usually understood by the term Black Power, and to sketch the life conditions of the black U.S. population in the 1960s and 1970s, since these played an important role in the emergence of Black Power. The forth chapter provides an overview of Black Power’s objectives and ideology, as they were set forth by the Black Power advocates such as Stokely Carmichael and interpreted by various scholars. Among these objectives there are calls for black people’s redefinition of themselves, for...

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