Week 7 continues our exploration of the Civil Rights Movement. The Learning Resources this week touch on some of the radical elements of the movement. The term “revolutionary” could be applied to the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, but “radical” is more fitting for the stage of the movement that we are discussing this week.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines a “revolution” as an “alteration, a change; esp. a dramatic or wide-reaching change in conditions, the state of affairs, etc.” One can easily see the Civil Rights Movement as a revolution by this definition. Another definition is the “Overthrow of an established government or social order by those previously subject to it: forcible substitution of a new form of government.” While this second definition is less fitting than the first, one could argue that in our readings last week, we witnessed a process of overthrowing the existing social order by those previously subject to it.
The term radical, however, is more applicable to this week’s readings. Again using the OED as a reference, radical is defined as “Advocating thorough or far-reaching political or social reform: representing or supporting an extreme section of a party”. This is what we see in Week 7, extremes of the movement.
Our first reading this week examines the meaning of the term Black Power as Stokely Carmichael intended it, and as the meaning was transformed into something else entirely.
The “Life, Assassination, and Legacy of Malcolm X, 1965” contains two links. The first link takes us to a brief reading in preparation for the second link, which is a short film and an essential primary source. Two more readings continue the examination of this period in the Civil Rights Movement: “‘Come Down Off the Cross and Get Under the Crescent’: The Newspaper Columns of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X” and “‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’: Community Activism and the Black Panther Party, 1966-1971”.
The final reading, “The Real Black Power”, provides a fitting book end, concluding where we began the week – with the meaning of Black Power.