Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

“The Sixties” & Beyond

Many recent debates have been conducted on racial issues and equal rights. In order to see clearly what the influence of the Civil Rights Movement in America is now; it is essential to trace the roots. From the post-World War II to the dawn of the early Civil Rights era, it took after legalism and nonviolent direct action. With the 1960s coming in, the movement developed ideologies of Black Power and Black Nationalism. In this paper, one of the key questions to be explored is which was more effective or successful – the earlier phases of Civil Rights or the later ones and why. It thus becomes rather illuminating to look at their successes and failures in turn, which allows one to gain a better perspective of the Civil Rights Movement as a dynamic historical phenomenon and be privy to what the continued struggle for racial justice has involved within America.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were at odds about the issue of violence as a means to asserting civil rights for African Americans. MLK Jr. supported nonviolent resistance with peaceful demonstrations, sit-downs, and boycotts that highlighted racial discrimination. He felt that it was only through the process of nonviolence that he could win the American public and, through them, the world over to the idea of the end of segregation and racism. On the other hand, Malcolm X believed in self-defense, in which force was to be used when necessary to protect yourself and other Black Americans from any form of violence as well as discrimination. He viewed nonviolence as being a passive and ineffective way to solve the problem and that Black Americans should go through any means necessary to attain their freedom and equality.

Both men had their strengths and weaknesses in terms of philosophy. The strong point of MLK Jr.’s dedication to nonviolence is that it helped him win over white Americans who otherwise might not have been inclined towards, or even actively hostile to, more forceful measures. His methods also created unity among Black Americans, allowing them to win moral advantage in their struggle. However, nonviolence had limitations that made it weak and ineffective against violent opposition. The statements of self-defense by Malcolm X gained ground among several Black Americans who felt impotent at the sight of violence and oppression. His openness to confront white supremacy head-on also instilled a measure of pride and solidarity among Black Americans (Kuo and Jackson). However, his philosophies on violence also estranged potential allies and enhanced government surveillance of him, as well as laid the foundation for greater repression from the state.

“Black Power” was a phase of the civil rights movement which emerged in the late 1960s. It symbolized the renouncement of nonviolence and the belief that Black Americans had to gain control of their own lives. Self-determination and Black pride, in which they believed, sprang up demands from the Black Power advocates who held that it was high time the American society ended up being dominated by whites. Violence is also one of the methods of resistance they create while sensitizing people to emulate it. Black Power had two strengths in its ability to awaken within Black Americans a consciousness of them as one people. Secondly, it gave expression to their refusal towards white supremacy along with demand for better representation of Blacks in all spheres. Black Power similarly shifted the discussion on civil rights from the issue of legal rights to that of self-determination and community control. However, some weaknesses came with Black Power. Its focus on separatism and nationalism often drove a wedge in the black community, and it turned potential allies off. Its promotion of violence also led to an even sharper government focus on blacks, and the blacks were stereotyped and developed reputations as dangerous and violent.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in 1966 in Oakland. Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale created the party to protect Black Americans from police brutality and other racial crimes. The Panthers supported socialism for racial equality, armed self-defense, and communal control. The Panthers sought to safeguard Black Americans’ rights to self-determination and hold the government accountable for their oppression (McGee). The party provided community amenities, including free meals and medical clinics, and patrolled Black communities with firearms to monitor police action and defend people. The Panthers’ violence was contentious. They supported armed self-defense but considered violence a last choice. The Panthers’ emphasis on self-defense to protect themselves and their communities was perceived as harsh and confrontational, leading to greater government persecution and monitoring.

The Weather Underground was an American radical leftist organization of the late 1960s. The group brought together and was committed to overthrowing the United States government. It was focused on work to launch a new kind of socialism within America’s national borders. The Weather Underground, just like other antiwar activists, considered violence a justification against the government that was unfair. The position of the Weather Underground about violence was viewed by many as radical and dangerous. The group carried out several bombings and other violent acts, such as attacks against government buildings and banks. This, along with the group’s use of violence and their little respect for the well-being of the civilians, certainly increased government surveillance and repression, and this ultimately resulted in a public perception that the anti-war movement was violent and threatening.

The Civil Rights movement began with legalism and nonviolent direct action. Legalism used the law to fight for equal rights, while nonviolent direct action included nonviolent protests and civil disobedience. These measures helped achieve desegregation and voting rights. Later, Black Power and Black Nationalism made the movement more violent. Later in the Civil Rights struggle, violence and militant methods increased. The Black Panther Party promoted violence to attain its goals. Despite its initial appeal, violence failed to achieve the movement’s long-term goals. The movement’s legitimacy was also questioned since critics claimed it could only achieve its goals through intimidation and force. Despite these reservations, the Black Power movement influenced other racial/ethnic groups and political activists. Its message of self-determination, communal empowerment, and cultural identity resonates with everyone who wants social justice.

Works Cited

Kuo, Rachel, and Sarah J Jackson. “The Political Uses of Memory: Instagram and Black-Asian Solidarities.” Media, Culture & Society, 26 July 2023, Accessed 16 Dec. 2023.

McGee, John. “Yes, Separation! No, Integration!” a Historical Analysis of Black Nationalist Groups across the Decades: From the Civil Rights Era to the Contemporary Era.” Undergraduate Research Conference, 22 Mar. 2021,


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics