Panthers and baby Panther
Alex Haley, author of Roots, at the typewriter with Malcolm X.
I kinda suck at writing papers/it had to be done under 8 pages (reasons why I’m a theater major), so no judgment, enjoy:
Between John F Kennedy, Malcolm X and Ella Baker, these three leaders in the time that they were in a place of power, were very influential on different matters pertaining to the civil rights movement. John F Kennedy was a political American leader who fought for African American support in order to get more support in general, and it worked. Which meant he had to advocate for civil rights, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he did much for the movement, he just said he would.
Malcolm X was a radical leader, coming out of the Nation of Islam who had very strict views that were slightly opposed to that of Martin Luther King’s, but appealed to the younger masses, the African Americans located in cities, and other places in the world.
Ella Baker worked through SCLC and SNCC (and other groups) to organize conventions, meetings, to gather people for a cause.
During his campaign, Kennedy focused on appealing to the needs of African Americans. In the video, there are a few clips of him in neighborhoods campaigning, letting his presence be known in the black community-which is something that no other president had done before him. It was a smart tactic to get more support, but his intentions on really being a part of the civil rights movement were flawed.
When he was actually elected he couldn’t follow through with what he’d said.
Even though he discussed just how awful discrimination was, “President Kennedy went on television to declare, in words far stronger than he or any previous president had ever used, that racial discrimination and injustice was a serious and profound moral evil that American society had to confront and strive to eliminate.” (137) It made him seem appealing to the movement, it granted him support because he was very good at verbally reacting to the situations occurring in the movement.
Granted he did have his moments, for example when he ordered that Martin Luther King be freed from jail.
Or when, “The Kennedy administration sprang into action and successfully lobbied Birmingham’s economic leadership into reaching a desegregation accord with King and Shuttlesworth before the police violence and resulting in black anger got totally out of hand.” (136)
Also the creation of the civil rights bill was exciting because it was a sign of action, a sign that he’d actually follow through. However it was never passed, it was created, thrown into the media for a hustle and bustle but never passed-which was the plan all along.
Lewis commented, that even though the bill was made, it still wouldn’t help, it was still pretty useless: “In good conscience, we cannot support the administration’s civil rights bill, for it is too little, and too late. There’s not one thing in the bill that will protect our people from police brutality.
This bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire hoses, (for) engaging in peaceful demonstrations…
The voting section of this bill will not help thousands of black citizens who want to vote…”One man, one vote,” is the African cry, it is ours too. (It must be ours.)” (163)
The trust in the Kennedy administration decreased for a few but the movement still backed him and so did some of the leaders. Even though he wire-tapped King and other key leaders, he’d also openly opposed the March on Washington because it was a major action, too radical, it would attract too much media attention and make him look bad.
“…Kennedy and his administration at first openly opposed black leaders’ announcement of a late-August March on Washington which would seek to highlight the economic disadvantages experienced by black America as well as call upon the Congress to pass Kennedy’s civil rights bill.” (137)
His (and his administration’s) nonchalant responses and involvement in the movement were tactically smart but yet hindering, it didn’t further the movement at all. But the movement responded and African Americans as a mass believed in him and what he said he would do.
Lewis strongly disagreed with this tactic and saw through it, “The revolution is a serious one. Mr. Kennedy is trying to take the revolution out of the street and put it in the courts. Listen Mr. Kennedy, Listen, Mr. Congressman, listen, fellow citizens, the black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won’t be a “cooling-off” period.” (164-165)
And the time for action after this “cooling-off” period, occurred with Lyndon Johnson after the Kennedy administration. But he still left an imprint on the movement and African Americans.
Malcolm X was an aggressive leader and radical, mainly because of his origins with the Nation of Islam and being under the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. But as a leader that made him more appealing to the areas where he focused, mainly in the northern urban areas. Unlike Martin Luther King, he saw the different between black american and white america, he also acknowledged the presence of white power and saw that more as the enemy. Not something to love, become one with or fully integrate with. That made him appealing to the younger generations in the movement, as well as his recognition of black identity/black pride.
His take on the civil rights movement was beyond what most leaders had already establishment- “…he had gone beyond civil rights to try to take on the structural problems of racism, poverty, militarist, materialism, and paranoid anticommunism in American life…” (237)
Instead of seeing the movement as a “civil rights” movement, he saw it as, “human rights struggle.” Which thwarted him to go beyond just America, but to appeal to countries around the world, there are clips of him giving speeches in London, or clips of him from Africa.
Lewis specifically comments on Malcolm’s influence in Africa: ”The second thing we had to cope with was that Malcolm X had just left Ghana some few days before we arrived and had made fantastic impressions.” (196) He’d greatly made a strong presence Ghana, so much so that he was asked for when SNCC visited, or they were asked about their affiliation with him and whether or not their views were akin to his.
When he actually met up with SNCC (accidentally) in Kenya, he’d been to eleven countries and talked to eleven heads of state and had addressed parliaments in most of these countries, and he’d planned to visit five more.
Also unlike most other leaders, he actually had a more stable relationship with SNCC. Especially when meeting them in Africa and speaking with Lewis.
“He felt that the presence of SNCC in Africa was very important and that this was (a) significant and crucial aspect of the “human rights struggle” that the American civil rights groups had too long neglected. He pointed out that the African leaders and people are strongly behind the Freedom Movement in this country; that they are willing to do all they can to support, encourage and sustain the Movement…” (198)
Again, instead of just appealing to American leaders/politicians, he proposed: “…to bring the case of the Afro-American before the General Assembly of the United Nations and hold the United States in violation of the Human Rights Charters.” (198)
Malcolm’s influence went beyond America and instead of making it just a home front issue,he appealed to other and countries and made it a bigger issue.
After his death, he left a great impression upon Americans as well, “After his death, Malcolm’s ideas regarding the need for racial pride, pan-African unity, and black control of black community institutions became increasingly popular among blacks.” (246) His effective responses to the oppression and his ability to overcome the issues that arose out of discrimination allowed him to create a great sense of black nationalism and it also made him a very effective spokesman.
Ella Baker was a forceful, influential leader who’d been a pioneer for getting together groups, conventions, meetings etc. One of the few distinguished women to have an impact on the movement to have a speech with the big leagues like King and Lewis. Known as the mother of the civil rights movement, who brought more people on board than most folks. She was a field worker who went onto trains through the south to recruit people for the NAACP.
She was also known as the mother of SNCC, she was a huge pivotal figure during their creation and their involvement in the movement.
She pulled together a meeting for the sit-ins in Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, who at the time, was the acting executive director of SCLC, that attracted 126 student delegates from 56 colleges.
It brought together the youth and adults to work together “…and provide genuine leadership-the development of the individual to this highest potential for the benefit of the group. Many adults and youth characterized the Raleigh meeting as the greatest or most significant conference of our period.” (121)
These sit-ins were “bigger than a hamburger,”-she explained the importance of how it was “…seeking to rid America of the scourge of racial segregation and discrimination-not only at lunch counters, but in every aspect of life.” (120)
An example of her influence is best exemplified by Bob Moses who took her belief in leadership and established “…a model for community organization that would be followed in other communities.” (166)
At the convention in Mississippi at Atlantic City she had speech-along with King, Bayard Rustin, James Farmer, Bob Moses-at the Freedom Democratic Party meeting.
Baker had not only help create these important groups that thwarted the movement but also fought to bring members together and unite the groups.
so one of my finals is from the Civil Rights Movement course, and one of the people I’m researching for my paper for this course is Ella Josephine Baker. She is known as the mother of the movement….take a look.
I am a Man.