Role Of James Baldwin In The Civil Rights Movement

1630 words - 7 pages

Throughout most of the 1950’s and 60’s there was a strong push by Black Americans to end their unfair treatment in America. Two main groups during this time were working on this problem. The NAACP and the Nation of Islam were two main groups working on and poised to solve this very dilemma. Despite trying to solve the same crisis their ideas on a solution were very different. Since their views were varied, people in turn had different views on which group they would become associated with. This inspired many writers to publicly display their beliefs on the issue. In “Down at the Cross,” Baldwin displays favor toward the methodology of the NAACP in the Civil Rights Movement because of their beliefs in the American system. Even though he was partial towards the NAACP he still believed in some of the teachings of the Nation of Islam especially in their views of keeping Black pride and Black values. These notions lead to the fact that Baldwin seeks a mixture of these two factions.

The NAACP made many strides in America to help integrate Whites and Blacks. This group’s main method of mixing the races was through the legal system. The path they picked caused many issues with Baldwin and one he perceived is that “very few liberals have any notion how long, how costly, and how heartbreaking a task it is to gather the evidence that one can carry into court, or how long such court battles take.” (Baldwin 320). So not only is it hard on the pocket, but Baldwin believes “there is no reason that Black men should be expected to be more patient, more forbearing, more farseeing than whites; indeed, quite the contrary” (Baldwin 321). One can see that Baldwin felt that the NAACP’s methods were slow and that the Black man should not have to wait around for them to get results. With that noted, other things during this time touched on the speed issue within the NAACP. An article in the New York Times newspaper depicted this problem in which it talked about the merged labor movement, which is a part of NAACP, not stopping widespread segregation and discrimination in unions. (Union Aides Rebut) The method of using the American legal system also has much irony within it based on the fact that it is partially at fault for separating the races, and is controlled by people who did it. The NAACP even with flaws seen by Baldwin, do not believe that all Whites are evil and this can be seen in how they’re a part of NAACP’s infrastructure. This point is were Baldwin confers with them on the fact that they should be creating a nation where Blacks and Whites are equal because “[Baldwin] did not care if White and Black people married” (Baldwin 327). From this point one can interpret the fact that Baldwin agrees with the overall goal of the NAACP to unify the two races. This future they look for is what he wants and sits well with Baldwin even though their methods are slow.

The Nation of Islam’s answer to the issue of unfair treatment of Blacks in America is...

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