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Factors Leading To The Demobilization Of The Black Power Movement

1126 words - 5 pages

Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Indiana proclaimed “[the] ‘70’s will be the decade of an independent black political thrust” during the Black Political Convention of 1972 (Carson, et al. 1991, 492). This thrust would inevitably come forms of social, political, and economic changes that invariably relied less on Black Power rhetoric and more on inclusionary opportunities for blacks in majority White American spheres. Undoubtedly, many factors led to the demobilization of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power, however, three reasons relating to black leadership and three relating to the national climate prove most influential. Black leadership changes involved older leaders capitulating to racism, the persecution of Black Freedom leaders, and the emergence of Black Elected Officials as a sign of increased political incorporation. As for the national climate, this country witnessed a resurgence of white supremacy groups, the emergence of a Black middle class, and the election of Richard Nixon, who brought his Law and Order rhetoric to the Oval Office.
Prior to the transformative decade of 1970, African Americans involved in certain industries continued to find their chances of upward mobility and corporate inclusivity challenged by the unrelenting racism of labor unions. In one instance, no black leaders operated in an officer’s position in the steelworkers’ union, leading many to understand that white power structures were not an effective way of moving through the channels of union representation (Marable 2007, 113). The racism trade unions surprisingly led to members of the Old Guard of the Civil Rights movement placing the blame on blacks for their lack of involvement, especially as Bayard Rustin declared, “blacks themselves were the major reason for labor’s record of blatant discrimination” (Marable 2007, 114-115). Rustin’s striking statement demonstrated the sudden capitulation of blacks to rampant demonstrations of racism toward the end of the 1960s, even more striking when taking into account that Rustin was once a leader in CORE. This change in the ideology of black leaders shaped later responses for approaching the political, social, and economic landscape, as blacks themselves criticized the argument of discrimination toward blacks.
The visibility of the Black Power Movement led to many of its members becoming enemies of the Nixon administration, with the certain state sponsored executions that undoubtedly changed the structure of the movement. The murder of Fred Hampton in 1969, the arrest of Black Panthers in connection to an Omaha police officer’s connection, and the outlandish sentencing of the “Wilmington Ten”, signified some of the most blatant injustices committed against black leaders (Marable 2007, 124-125). This persecution of made any type of connection to the Black Panthers or Black Freedom leadership a guaranteed reason for the government to place someone in their path of criminalization, making the need to find a new...

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