When Malcolm is 6, a crazy string of misfortunes happens to him. First, his father, Earl, is killed by white people who opposed his work in the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Then his family is denied the life insurance because the company claimed Earl committed suicide. This was during the great depression, so Malcolm’s family began to live off welfare. Later on Malcolm steals food from a store, which is blamed on his mom who is eventually put in a mental hospital. This completely separates Malcolm from his siblings and parent. He gets adopted by a white family in 1937. Malcolm doesn’t like it there or in his new school though as he feels he is constantly being treated like he is inferior, he uses the term “pink poodle”. So he decides to move to Boston with his sister Ella. Malcolm struggles as a kid in Boston, working low wage jobs and at one point even selling narcotics. Malcolm is drafted, but tells the army psychiatrist that he wishes to lead Blacks to murder southern whites, getting him out of the war. At this point he is a young adult now and he begins to traffick guns and do cocaine. His life is on the downturn, and a few years later he is sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbing homes. In prison he begins to study several subjects in the prison library and uses his anger for reasoned argument. He converted to Islam while in jail at the request of his brother, Reginald. When considering weather to convert or not, he thinks of all the white people who have wronged him in his life, which makes the conversion a no brainer. Later in prison, he joins the prison debate program. Malcolm is released in 1952 and moves in with his brother, Wilfred, in Detroit. There, Malcolm begins to convert people to Islam. He changes his last name to X during this time to represent his lost African surname. He becomes a very prominent university lecturer, teaching about the nation of Islam. Malcolm visited other places and realizes that the white people there have no racism. He concludes that the racism comes from hundreds of years of mistreatment to blacks. He tells blacks to unify together before they unify with whites to defeat racism. Malcolm X was killed in 1965, after he predicted he would die a violent death. Malcolm X’s story is really a great one. He starts off as a person who does drugs and would do anything for quick money, including trafficking guns and drugs. Through these bad actions, he gets a 10 year jail sentence. Going to prison was the best thing that could have happened to him. Yet, when he is contemplating on converting to Islam, he thinks about the people who put him in jail. This is what gets him to convert, however if it wasn’t for those people he most likely would have never have achieved what he did. This was a little confusing to me since he definitely was deserving of a prison sentence and it directly led to his greatness. Nonetheless, when he got out he became an inspiring figure in the Black rights movement and after his death was inspiring for the rising Black Panther Party. Citation: X, Malcolm. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Ishi Press, 2015.
Pete Seeger is attempting to portray the same message as Martin Luther King jr did in his “I Have a Dream” speech. That message is to live in peace as equals. This song was made the same year as MLK jr gave his famous speech. Seeger says, “We shall live in peace, some day” and “We’ll walk hand in hand, some day” because that is his ‘dream’ as well as MLK jr’s. Seeger also says, “We are not afraid, Today.” What he means by this is that they are not afraid to fight these civil injustices that have been happening throughout the last century. And they will continue to fight for what they believe in until that “some day” becomes reality. The first time I listened to this song was when I looked it up for this assignment. There aren’t many lyrics in the song yet the few that there are get the point across perfectly: We will fight the injustices being done to the black minority until the day comes where we start living hand in hand. Pete Seeger is white, which sort of took me aback because most primary sources from the 1960’s fighting for black rights are from other black people. He saw the wrongdoings of the majority of his race and tried to fix them himself. I decided to research the origins of the song a little more and I found out that this song is a widely accepted symbol of the black civil rights movement. The few lyrics and the simple rhythm of the song make it easy to sing at things like peaceful protests. Citation:Seeger, Pete. “Pete Seeger - We Shall Overcome.” YouTube, 24 Jan. 2008, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhnPVP23rzo.
This speech by Martin Luther King jr. was given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 and is one of the most famous speeches ever given. He talks about his dream: for blacks and whites to live peacefully in equality. Weather it’s the kid of a former slave or the kid of a former slave owner, he wants them to unite and create a brotherhood. He hopes that people of all races and genders will join hands and live together in harmony. He knows that, while changes to this extent are not likely to happen, with peaceful protests of this size certain changes will be made. One quote from Martin Luther King jr’s speech really stood out to me: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I couldn’t agree more with this. People should not be judged on the basis of their physical appearance, weather it’s their race, gender, or any other classification. The black rights movements was partly about equal access to jobs because they thought if a black person can do a job better than a white person he should take his job, yet that’s not how it used to work. From this quote, King also shows he doesn’t want people to like or hate someone based on their skin tone but by their character. We are fortunate to be living in a time where we are closer to King’s dreams than ever before. Citation:King, Martin Luther. “Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Dream Speech.” YouTube, 28 Aug. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE.
Mark Speltz wrote this article to make the argument that pictures from certain black rights movements are how we remember the events, yet they are only capturing one moment of the long struggle that actually happened. He also says that current black lives matter pictures are meant to look like they are from the civil rights era. This is evident in the picture by Devin Allen. It is a black and white photo of a black man being chased by a mob of police. It has the year 2015 on it with the quote “What has changed. What hasn’t.” This shows that things like this have been happening ever since blacks were freed from slavery in 1865 and that things need to change now. The next photo in this article is from 1963. It is of a black teenager being attacked by police dogs for defying an anti-parade ordinance. Speltz says that from photos like these, it shows how much resistance there is to change. There are clear issues wrong with this photo, as the teen does not look to be causing and trouble, yet he is being bitten by large police dogs. Yet it wasn’t for another year and a lot more protesting that these issues even began to be resolved. Photos and photojournalism are some of the best ways to combat wrongdoings in our nation. When there is police brutality, or any other civil injustice, if there are pictures taken that can represent the event it will get many more people to get an idea as to what happened. This can help to spread awareness, but also like the author said, it can show that no changes are being made. I want to relate this to one of the most prominent issues of today: gun violence. While it’s no the pictures that gets everyone informed on the topic but rather the headlines. When the headline reads x amount of people killed it will be seen across the nation. Everyone knows these things are happening, yet nothing is being done about it. No changes are being made even though clearly our current laws are not working. These things continue to happen since the changes needed don’t follow the majority of people’s agendas. For instance in a 1960’s white people did not want blacks to be full equal and to be able to take their jobs. Today, while there are mass murders seemingly every week or two, people still want to be able to own their guns, so no changes are made. The longer we wait to incite changes, the worse the situation gets. Citation:Speltz, Mark. “Black Lives Matter: What Role Do Photographs Play?” Time, Time, 22 Sept. 2016, time.com/4429096/black-lives-matter-civil-rights-photography/.
This article is an opinion piece by Arthur Cyr on how Martin Luther King jr’s leadership was a huge part in the civil rights movement actually achieving its goal. Cyr uses words like shrewd, charismatic, and courage to describe the type of leader that M.L.K. jr was. While there were other black rights parties, such as the Black Panther Party, who would use violence to get their point across, King never stopped his peaceful protests. King’s peaceful protests were what won African Americans the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation and banned discrimination of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Him becoming the face of the civil rights movement showed his courage as he knew he would be a target for whites that were against his movement. Whenever I used to think of Martin Luther King jr, I would think of him as a symbol of the civil rights movement and someone who is almost larger than life. However my thoughts changed when I read about how Martin Luther king was reluctant to become the face of this movement because of how dangerous it was for him. This goes to show, while many Americans see him as something greater, he was still just a man who had fears just like the rest of us. What I now see as the difference between the typical person and Martin Luther King jr is the immense amount of courage he had. He knew being the face of the black rights movement was dangerous; he knew giving his “I Have a Dream” speech in a public area with a good chunk of the nation wanting him dead was dangerous. Yet, he knew that the cause he was fighting for was bigger than just him. That right there is true courage. Citation:News, Arthur I. CyrThe Salem. “Column: King's Courage Helped Fuel Civil Rights Movement.” Salem News, 24 Aug. 2013, www.salemnews.com/opinion/column-king-s-courage-helped-fuel-civil-rights-movement/article_adda0500-72e7-5e62-b0eb-268e0496a42b.html.
The article I chose was about what it was like to be black and trying to register to vote from the end of reconstruction in the south(1877) all the way until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed. There are numerous stories of African Americans who were discriminated against on the basis of their race. A women named Rosie Head was trying to register to vote in the state of Mississippi right before the Civil Rights Act passed and the clerk told her: “You go home and do like your mama and your grandmama did. You don’t need to come out here. This ain’t for black folk.” Another man was blacklisted from teaching jobs in the whole state of Mississippi because he taught a course that helped people register to vote. These are just 2 of many stories about blacks being mistreated in order to keep the number of black voters as low as possible. This article was interesting to me because I thought all black men had been given the right to vote in 1870 with the 15th amendment and all black women had been given that right in 1920 with the 19th amendment. However after I read this article I was shocked to find out that a significant amount of African Americans have been denied their constitutional right to vote. White people, mainly in the south, would make blacks fear going to register to vote. Mainly African Americans just decided voting wasn’t worth the risks of registering while others brought guns to protect themselves incase something happened. I used to think the Black rights movement was all about getting rid of the ‘separate but equal’ Jim Crow laws, but now I realize that it was about so much more. Citation:“Voting Rights - Civil Rights History Project.” The Library of Congress, www.loc.gov/collections/civil-rights-history-project/articles-and-essays/voting-rights/.