Black Power Movement in America Essay (Critical Writing)

In America, the beginning of the 1960s was characterized by a number of political and civil movements that were aimed at providing the Black people with rights, freedoms, and opportunities. Regarding the thoughts developed by Malcolm X and Mr. King and the outcomes of their murders, many people did not want to accept the fact that a Black man should not have the rights to power. The fact that a Black man was deprived of power made people believe that they deserved that right and that they had all possibilities to achieve power and use it as they wished. Black Americans were constantly oppressed, and protests and revolutions turned out to be the only chance to change the situation. Though many Whites admitted that the Blacks promoted hate as the only weapon to demonstrate their intentions ( Eyes on the Prize ), the participants refused that idea underlining that the only strong desire they have is “to live with hope and human dignity that existence without them is impossible” (Newton 5). The Black Power movement helped to provide people with a sense of racial pride. People had not to be afraid of the color of their skin. All they had to do was to comprehend that the white color is not better than the black color, and there was no person, who could give a clear explanation of why racial diversity should be developed in favor of the Whites. There were a number of attempts to prove the worth of the black nation, and the creation of the Black Panther Party was one of the brightest achievements in the middle of the 1960s. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale were the founders of the party when they came to the conclusion that there was no other way to deal with white shotguns that spread fear among ordinary black citizens and the instability that deprived people of hope. The idea to create a new political party that could be legally approved was based on casual discussions and conversations (Newton 111). People were in need of something more than the white rooster that represented the Democratic Party, and the elephant that represented the Republican Party. Now, it was a black cat that spoke for all Black communities ( Eyes on the Prize ). The ideas offered by the Black Panther Party were impressive. It was not enough for them to ask for freedoms, education, employment, etc. It was necessary to prove that the Black community was not worse for the communities organized by the white people, and certain systematic changes were necessary for America. A ten-point program was developed by the representatives of the Black Panther Party within the frames of which the main ideas and intentions of the Black community were identified. One of the most interesting ideas was the necessity to deal with police brutality and murders of Black people (Newton 120). The organization of self-defense groups was the decision that proved the importance of patrolling. According to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, people had the right to bear arms, and Newton used that opportunity to help the Black people protect themselves against the police as “it was ridiculous to report the police to the police, but… by raising encounters to a higher level, by patrolling the police with arms, we would see a change in their behavior” (120). These were the first steps that helped to realize that the Black people could do a lot of things to improve their lives in case they did everything on their own.

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Works Cited

Eyes on the Prize . Ex. Prod. Henry Hampton. Boston: Blackside, 1987-1990. Web. Newton, Huey, P. Revolutionary Suicide , New York: Writers and Readers Publishing, 1995. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 26). Black Power Movement in America.

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The Black Power Motion was a brand-new way of combating for Civil liberty in the 60’s. Numerous African Americans were tired of ineffective, peaceful demonstrations so they turned to violence. There were numerous groups and leaders included with this motion such as Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party. The Black Power Movement was a battle for instant modification in American society that involved the FBI and the Cops. The media made it look like a danger to innocent individuals, while others saw it as a progressive motion for African American culture.

Though it was a violent and harmful movement, it was necessary for African Americans to get equality in America.

The Black Power Movement was a type of opposing that had actually not yet been seen before in the Civil Rights Motion. The term “Black Power” was introduced in 1966, in a speech by Stokely Carmichael, the head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The SNCC was an organization that would help African American trainees take part in the Civil Rights movement through serene activities.

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Carmichael wearied of the slow rate of civil liberties’ progression, which he made clear in his speeches. He as soon as stated in a speech, “Some negroes have actually been strolling down dream street talking about sitting beside white individuals. That does not start to resolve the problem … we were never ever defending the right to incorporate, we were fighting versus white supremacy.” Carmichael’s enthusiasm towards a new type of movement brought many young African Americans into the image.

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African Americans soon began to take pride in their heritage and create their own type of style. Numerous grew out their hair into “afros” other than formerly copying the white male’ conk design of hair. They likewise began to wear conventional African dashikis and blue denims. The new African American design provided them a sense of individuality and pride. The increase of the Black Power movement revealed individuals of America that African Americans were strong people that wanted to combat for their liberties. The inspiration for this kind of motion was greatly affected by Malcolm X.

Malcolm X’s actions pioneered the ideas and morals of the Black Power Movement. He spent his early years running from white supremacists with his family. His father was a civil rights activist as well as a Baptist minister. His home in Michigan was burned down and his father was found dead on the local train tracks. These events of his childhood gave him a sense of anger towards white people. Though early life was tough, he was always well educated. He graduated at the top of his class in middle school, but dropped out when his teacher told him that his dream of becoming a lawyer was “no realistic goal for a nigger”. He began to run drugs, prostitutes, and gambling rings to make money. When Malcolm X was arrested for petty crimes, he joined the nation of Islam in prison, where he went on to become a leader in their church. When Malcolm X was released, he was angry at the white oppressors in America. He started an Islamic gang that would help protect his fellow African Americans against police brutality. His ability to overcome a rough life and become a leader in the Civil Rights Movement was inspiring to many. Malcolm X’s dignity, self-respect, and ability to fight for his beliefs were carried on through the Black Panther Party.

The Black Panther Party was a national organization that promoted Black Power. It was founded by two very intelligent college graduates by the names of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The fact that they were well educated African Americans with college degrees made them admirable to their followers. They required members to read specific books in order to join the group. They practiced a ten point program that stated their desires which included the release of wrongly tried African American prisoners, Housing for the black community, employment for African Americans, and black people being exempt from military service. The program seems reasonable today but in the 60’s many people thought it was never going to happen. The organization was not afraid to kill police officers or any others who were oppressing African Americans. Though they were violent, much of their proceeds went towards building schools, art institutions, dance programs, houses, and many other utilities for African American communities. The Black Panther Party created many opportunities for their people that they would not have received otherwise. Though The Party seemed like a violent group to many, it was a well-organized group that was very beneficial for African Americans throughout the nation.

The Black Panther Party was constantly being attacked by the FBI and the Police. The FBI would threaten the Panthers and try to force them to talk. They would also forge letters and send them to high ranking members of the party that were full of fake information. The FBI technically had no right to do what they did but they would cover up their actions with lies and scandals. The day after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death the FBI kicked in the door on a Black Panther Party meeting, killing four leaders of the party. The attack was unwarranted and they had absolutely no right to kill the four men. Also, when the FBI was called in to investigate multiple homicides of African Americans they would not release the truth of the death by calling them “accidents” or “untraceable”. The police force was brutal on the party. There was even an instance of the LAPD raiding one of the Los Angeles Panther’s child care center. Officers held the children at gunpoint and made them watch the adults get beat mercilessly by the policemen. The Black Panther Party had difficulties running their operations with these unwarranted attacks. The FBI and the Police were corrupt and should have been punished for their actions. However, they were mostly not African Americans, so the United States Government did not even bat an eye.

The Media viewed the Black Power movement as a group of thugs causing chaos. With song titles like, “Violence is as American as Cherry Pie,” made people feel threatened by the African American community. The movement also had support from the Viet Kong during the “Free Huey” Campaign. When Huey Newton was jailed, the Viet Kong offered to release prisoners of war for the release of Newton. When Americans realized that the Black Panther Party was supported by the communist government that we were currently in a war with made the group look dangerous. One leader of the movement, Gordon Parks, was frustrated with the media and said, “I’ve given up trying to explain it. The whites never really listen when I do anyway” For many members of the Black Power Movement, it was very difficult to voice their opinion due to the negative influence of the media. The media constantly made Black Power look like a group of violent people, which made the movement look bad in the eyes of many citizens.

The practices of the Black Power Movement were terrifying to many Americans. They took the term “Black Power” and compared it to “White Power” making it look as if the African Americans were going to murder innocent white people. Many African Americans began to carry weapons visibly in public to show their strength. The combination of the two made it seem as if African Americans were fighting to kill, not for their rights. Also, the newly found pride that many African Americans had discovered was intimidating to many white people, mainly because they had never seen it before. As a result, the FBI considered the Black Panther Party their number one threat to American Security. The Black Panther Party was only taking extreme actions because they needed a huge change, yet many Americans were skeptical about Black Power and did not want to support it because of their fears of African American violence.

The Black Power Movement an entirely different take on the battle for civil rights. Many African Americans were done with the slow paced peaceful protests, and began to fight for a faster change in society. The Black Panther Party and Malcolm X impacted the movement the greatest. Even though FBI and Police officers would always try and shut them down. The media made the movement look bad in the eyes of many, yet some still believe it was for the greater good. Even though it was a dangerous protest, it was the only way for many African Americans to make a statement in the United States society.

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Black Power Movement

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The Black Power Movement

During and after the days of Jim Crow, blacks in the United States were economically and socially oppressed. Blacks still faced lower wages than whites, segregation of public amenities and racial discrimination. At this time many groups were created to challenge these injusticces. The Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights movement were similar because they both fought for equal rights and equal treatment for African Americans. However, they sought to achieve different goals and implemented different forms of action to achieve change.

The Civil Rights Movement fought for desegregation and believed in non-violence, while the Black Power Movement rejected integration for racial seperation (Jefferies, 2006). In this essay, I am going to further discuss the tactics used by the Black Power Movement to gain change, and the accomplishements they achieved. Emerging after the civil rights movement of the 1950's, the Black Power Movement was arguably one of the most influential and controversial movements of the 20th century. “Black Power” as a political idea originated in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committe (SNCC) n the mid 1960's (Jeffereies, 2006). At this time a leader emerged by the name of Stokley Carmichael. Upon gaining leadership, Carmichael ejected white members and believed that the only way to bring about change for blacks was to have an all black union. Stokleley Carmichael believed that Black Power would instill a fear in whites and love in blacks ( Carmichael, 1967).

In 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) in Oakland California. By the late 1960's, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee SNCC) and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense began to gain momentum. Martin Luther King Jr imitated Ghandi and his use of non-violebnce to gain India independence from Great Britain. Because of the Civil Rights Momvement, in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed and a year later the Voting Rights Act was passed, ending segregation and ultimately gave blacks the right to vote (Muse,1968). However, non-violent protestors were being beaten, cut with razors and knives, hot cigarettes and cigars were burnt into their arms and aces, they were spat upon and kicked to the floor, policemen locked them up by the thousands into cramped unsanitary jails (Muse,1968).

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Even with the obvious progress, discrimination could not be eliminated. Many members of the SNCC grew tired of the non-violent approach used by King and other groups within the Civil Rights Organization. Increasing members of the SNCC had come to reject the moderate path of cooperation, integration and assimilation of their elders (Ogbar,2005). Divisions grew betweeen the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Movement. The eaders of the Black Power Movement argued that assimilation or integration robs blacks of their identity and dignity (Algernon, 2003). Malcom X, a member of the nation of Islam, believed that Africans historically fought to protect their lands, cultures and freedoms from European Colonists, and that to seek to integrate into a society that has stolen one’s people and their wealth is an act of treason (Algernon, 2003).

As a result, aggressively more radical voices came foward to challenge racial discrimination. Black Power advocates began to insist the Blacks carry guns and receive ilitary training in order to protect themselves. Members of the Panthers openly carried weapons and made death threats towards police officers. The Black Panthers sought to oppose police brutality in African American neighborhoods. Police Officers were frequently followed by armed Black Panthers The Black Panthers staged violent protests which often resulted in the death of Panthers and Police officers. From 1967 to 1969, nine police officers were killed and 56 were wounded in confrontations with the panthers (Marine, 1969

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Black Power Movement Essay

Published Date: 23 Mar 2015 Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017

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The failures of the Civil Rights Movement resulted in the Black Power Movement. Members of the party felt that passive resistance was unrealistic and that for real change to occur, violent direct action would need to happen. Leaders like Malcolm X felt that passive resistance was not effective. Not only did Black Power promote black beauty is also unified African Americans.

Why did the BPM come into existence?

The Civil Rights Movement achieved many great things, their powerful protests created an immense amount of awareness for the oppression of black people in America. Protests like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, The sit-ins in 1960, the March on Lincoln Memorial, the Birmingham Campaign in 1963, Freedom summer of 1964, and the Selma-Montgomery marches, attained: the passing of the Civil Rights Act by the American Congress in 1964. This outlawed discrimination based on racial, ethnic, national, religious and gender identity, and the passing of the Voting Rights Act by the American Congress in 1965. In addition to these acts being passed black people gained a new self-confidence as the result of The CRM. Black people also gained a new sympathy for the things that they had lost during the CRM from their fellow white citizens of America.

Despite the achievements of the CRM by 1965 the general economic conditions of African Americans were poor. They lived in ghettos which were crowded and diseases would often arise due to the lack of facilities, the ghettos were often in bad conditions and most of the time unkempt [1] . Apart from the living conditions, most of these people were unemployed or paid very low wages as job opportunities were lacking. This resulted in poverty and crime and to many the achievements of the CRM were in vain, they had lost all hope.

Although they had achieved civil rights they were still subject to copious amounts of discrimination often racial abuse and violent attacks with this the police provided little protection and sometimes were guilty of these brutal attacks. The African Americans had no solution to this problem as they were taught by previous leaders like Martin Luther King that passive resistance and civil disobedience were commendable ways of disapproving authority but many felt that this ideology was inadequate and so they turned to more forceful ways of resistance [2] . Black power promoted black interests and this appealed to many frustrated African Americans. Black power grew out of black dissatisfaction of the CRM. Although the achievements of the CRM were praiseworthy it was not good enough.

What Influence did Malcolm X have on the development of the BPM?

Malcolm X was an African American Muslim minister and a human rights activist. Malcom X joined the Nation of Islam, which believed that blacks were superior to whites. They also believed in black self-reliance and that African Americans should return to where they originated from, Africa, as they believed that they would never be abundantly accepted in American society. Malcolm X became one of their best outspoken speakers.

After his time as part of the Nation of Islam his relationship with the leader of the movement Elijah Muhammad grew hostile [3] and he decided to leave the movement. Malcolm X believed that blacks had the right to defend themselves violently in the face of a violent attack if necessary to achieve their freedom and equality. He did not believe in integration between blacks and whites making him an early proponent of Black Nationalism. Thus he didn’t believe in Martin Luther King’s ideology of passive resistance, their lack of power was the foundation of Malcolm X’s duty to encourage that protests be more assertive. [4]

Although he was a firm believer of the promotion of black interests, black self-esteem, black self-pride and black self-defence against racial oppression his views began to change after his pilgrimage to mecca. He discovered that Muslims preach equality of the races. After returning to America he remained convinced that racism ruined the spirit of America and that only black people could free themselves.

What were the main beliefs and aims of the BPM?

The Black Power Movement was interpreted in various ways and had many beliefs but ultimately a common objective, Black Nationalism. Black power promoted black interests, self-sufficient black economy, Black self-pride and self-esteem. They believed that black people and white people should not be integrated therefore they fostered a distinctive black culture. [5]

These ideas caused friction with leaders of the Civil Rights Movement as the CRM worked towards social equality whereas Black Power believed in black separation. Not all parties were in favour of Black Nationalism, The Black Panther party believed in Self-defence against racial oppression. They also believed that the structure of power in America was imbalanced [6] and that majority of the people in power in America were white thus making it unfair, they believed that people of colour were economically exploited and that it needed to be rectified.

Black power believed in black control of their communities, they didn’t believe in nonviolent protests as they believed that direct action was more effective. Supporters of the Black Power Movement began adopting distinctive ways of dressing, especially women who then decided that their wardrobe would be more uniformed inspired than European. They coined a term “Black is Beautiful” [7] and this became their mantra, men and women were asked to stop straightening their hair and bleaching their skin, as in American culture it was believed that certain black characteristics were undesirable, thus men and women donned an afro hairstyle to display their new found confidence in being black.

They believed that time was not to be wasted on proving to the white people that they were equal but rather that, that time to be spent on educating the black community of black power , building institutions and providing protection to fellow black citizens.

What methods did the BPM employ?

There were various methods that were employed by the members of the BPM. During the Civil Rights Movement, an organisation called the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was a non-violent committee that would participate in sit-ins and freedom rides, protesting against the inequality between white and black people. It started out non-violently but later on in the 60s it fell under the leadership of a passionate Stokely Carmichael and this organisation became a predecessor of the BPM.

The Black Panther Party carried out most of the procedures when it came to educating the black people of black power. The Black Panther Party was initially formed to protect black people from police brutality but under the leadership of Stokely Carmichael the Black Panther Party adopted Black Nationalism. Many of the members of the party carried firearms with them; this was thought to protect the black people from the police but also made them look very intimidating displaying their clear contrary to the Civil Rights Movement.

Majority of the black people were illiterate and this created a problem for the party as leaflets could not be made therefore it was pointless if no one could read them, so the leaders made decisions to incorporate awareness in less literal way. “They could have leafleted the community and they could have written books, but the people would not respond. They had to act and the people could see and hear about it and therefore become educated on how to respond to oppression.” [8] They decided that crime and poverty in the ghettos could be decreased if they employed people who were interested in conveying radical change.

Apart from being responsible for various criminal activities the BBP formed armed groups for self-defence against the police, this was their strategy to protect themselves and idea of Black Nationalism. Under this party the main focus was that black people would be free from white people completely, and that they only relied on themselves and other people falling under the black nation.

How successful was the BPM?

It is suggested that Black Power made positive, lasting contributions to the African American lifestyle. [9] It created greater racial pride amongst the black people in America. Black people became more accepting of their American heritage, they noted that they would be stronger as country than as segregated races. African Americans were now taken care of, ghettos decreased as well as crime and poverty.

Black voters were endowed to support their black candidates [10] . The Black Power Movement also formed a path; black students were now given the opportunity to study at university without any racial oppression or discrimination. Although we like to believe that racial discrimination no longer existed in America, it did and it still does.

The Black Power Movement also created a strong black culture for African Americans, this was something that they could relate to, and this culture consisted of soulful music, eccentric fashion and heartfelt literature. The BPM also formed a platform for cultural tolerance in America, as different cultures were now accepted amongst people of the country.

What is the legacy of the BPM today?

The Black Power Movement set down a fundamental platform for the advancement of African Americans. Black Power was not the only contributing factor, but the Civil Rights Movement also played a big role in achieving equality for African Americans. Under the Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights Acts were passed, race discrimination became illegal and this gave African Americans a new kind of self-esteem and self-confidence in who they were as Americans.

Although the Black Power Movement “ended” the spirit today still does exist, not only in America but in all parts of the world. If we look at America today, there are many successful African Americans in the country. The dream of many African Americans was achieved in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected as America’s first black president. This could not be made possible if black power did not exist. It was the strength and power of the many activists in the 1960s and 1970s that fashioned an important part in history today. “Black power's impact thus remains powerfully resonant — however fraught and contentious — as a generation of black politicians, artists, and intellectuals have channelled the new black identity it first articulated in diverse and varied ways” [11] with this said the writer makes a very crucial point, that Black Power was the basis of the accomplishments of African Americans today and that it should remain as a token that African Americans should remember of the struggle.

It is suggested that the failures of the Civil Rights Movement subsequently lead to the rise of Black Power. The methods used during the Civil Rights Movement like passive resistance and civil disobedience felt inadequate to the black people therefore it appeared that was a need for alternative methods to achieve equality.

Timeline of the BP

1952 Malcolm X joins The Nation of Islam

1955-1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott

1960 The first Sit-in occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina

1963 The March on Washington (Lincoln Memorial)

1963 Birmingham Campaign

1964 Freedom Summer Campaign

1964 Civil Rights Act was signed

1964 Malcolm X breaks with the Nation Of Islam

1965 Voting Rights Act was signed

1966 The Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale

1966 Stokeley Carmichael becomes ‘Honorary Prime Minister’ of the BBP

1967 Stokeley Carmichael is removed From BBP

1972 National Black Political Convention was held

1980 BBP started to dissipate

1983 Martin Luther King Jr Day was created


A protest of Asians showing their support of Black Power, they’re protesting for the release of Huey Newton who was imprisoned for murdering a policeman in 1967.

A Black panthers poster with their mantra “Move on over or we’ll move on over you” which basically meant that they were not afraid for fighting for their rights.


Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics written by Cederic Johnson

Black theology and black power written by James H. Cone




[4] Adapted from

[5] and adapted from New day in Babylon the BPM movement and American culture written by William l. van Deburg, ISBN: 9780226847153 Published November 1993


[7] Adapted from

[8] Quote by Black Panther leader, Huey Newton 1968

[9] adapted from New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965-1975By William L. Van Deburg


[11] Quote from an article


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Why did the BPM come into existence?

What Influence did Malcolm X have on the development of the BPM?

What were the main beliefs and aims of the BPM?

What methods did the BPM employ?

How successful was the BPM?

What is the legacy of the BPM today?

Timeline of the bp, illustrations.


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  4. The Black Power Movement (600 Words)

    Emerging after the civil rights movement of the 1950's, the Black Power Movement was arguably one of the most influential and controversial movements of the 20th century. “Black Power” as a political idea originated in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committe (SNCC) n the mid 1960's (Jeffereies, 2006).

  5. Black Power Movement Essay

    The Black Power Movement set down a fundamental platform for the advancement of African Americans. Black Power was not the only contributing factor, but the Civil Rights Movement also played a big role in achieving equality for African Americans.

  6. History of The Black Power Movement

    The Black Power Movement set down a fundamental platform for the advancement of African Americans. Black Power was not the only contributing factor, but the Civil Rights Movement also played a big role in achieving equality for African Americans.