The Black Power Movement: A Logical Extension

1829 words - 8 pages

In order to make a case that the Black Power Movement was a logical extension of the African American freedom struggle based on the longstanding African American strategies and goals for change, it is important to look at the longstanding strategies and goals, and compare them to the Black Power movement, using the examples of strategies taken by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO) in Alabama. Knowing this, it can be determine whether the Black Power movement built upon those strategies, or went against them. There are several noteworthy strategies used in this comparison. The names of these strategies are based off of the people who are synonymous with them. They comparisons are as follows: W.E.B DuBois’ Talented Tenth Plan, Booker T. Washington’s “Cast down your bucket” Plan, Thurgood Marshall’s Legal Campaign, and Dr. Martian Luther King Jr.’s Non-Violence Movement. In addition to determining whether or not the Black Power movement utilized these strategies, it is equally imperative to ask, assuming that the movement went against these strategies, if it was practical or logical, given the circumstances faced by SNCC and the LCFO, not to implement them.
W.E.B Dubois’ Talented Tenth idea could be considered elitist to most people. His idea was to “[develop] the Best of this race [African-Americans] that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races.” Mr. Dubois only wanted the select specialized few, through a high quality education based on “intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it”1, to lead the fight. If we apply this model to Lowndes County there are see some mixed results.
In Lowndes, the top African-American educated elite leading the freedom struggle for political power in the county is non-existent. Most of Lowndes County’s African American population were farmers and sharecroppers, and had a small middle class which consisted of mostly educators who were quiet about the new political movement. This was due to the possibility of losing their jobs if anyone in the hierarchy knew of their involvement in the movement. So with the “Talented Tenth” of Lowndes County unresponsive to the movement, Mr. Dubois’ approach is started to seem ineffective. However, the Dubois approach couldn’t be completely thrown by the wayside. DuBois stressed the importance of an educated force to lead the masses to “strive against the bars of prejudice”. The same can be said with SNCC and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization when they conducted workshops and political education programs. After the Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August of 1965, the idea of a third political party in Lowndes County Alabama began to bear fruit. It was here where SNCC activists began creating political education programs to help African American create a political party capable...

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