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The Nation Of Islam And The Civil Rights Movement

1337 words - 5 pages

Although the Nation of Islam is most widely known for their outspoken leaders and aggressive methods, the Nation of Islam is one of the most important black activist groups of the 1960’s. In a matter of just a few years the Nation of Islam’s members had increased from 400 to 400,000 (Taylor par.19). During the 1960’s, the emergence of the Nation of Islam constituted a change in the minds of many African-Americans. Therefore, caused a major influence in the Civil Rights Movement.
Before the Nation of Islam came to its existence, there were other activist groups that influenced the Nation of Islam. Prior to the emergence of the Nation of Islam in the 1960’s, there were other successful Black Nationalist groups such as Garveyism (Talhami 130). Marcus Garvey led a “return-to-Africa movement” (Talhami 131). This movement called for all blacks to leave America and return to Africa, and re-claim their original land (Talhami 131). The Garveyite movement wanted Islam to be its official religion being that most Africans were Muslims, and Marcus Garvey believed that Islam was the “black man’s” original religion (Talhami 131), and it had been stated that “This notion gained strength through the desire to seek a national identity linking them to a homeland other than the white dominated United States” (Talhami 130). Drew Ali and Elijah Muhammad were influenced by Islam during the Garvey movement (Talhami 131). Elijah Muhammad was strongly influenced by Marcus Garvey’s philosophy to follow other black leaders, and his political transformation to the Nation of Islam (Talhami 132).
As the Nation of Islam began to quickly emerge into the mainstream, it changed the minds of many African –Americans. Firstly, the Nation of Islam strongly believed in self-education of African-Americans. A popular endorser of this philosophy was Malcolm X whom heightened his vocabulary and furthered his education in jail by copying the dictionary word for word (Taylor par.16). The Nation of Islam instilled that in order to conquer your future you have to first conquer your past. Many members of the Nation of Islam spent time traveling throughout America teach the history of blacks because they believe that to identify with one another, the group must share the pat and reference the past frequently for the history to be passed on from generation to generation (Tinaz 155). They brought to light a new religion to the African-American population due to the belief that “There is a close correlation between religion and identity. Religion appears to be one of the vital sources of identity” (Tinaz 153). The Nation of Islam sought out African-Americans to converge together and create their own national identity (Tinaz 152). “Rather it acts as a ethno-religious movement and attempts to contend with global forces by constructing its own interpretations of that development, in terms of its own local communities of resistance” (Tinaz 152). Blacks looking for a new identity...

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