Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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How might one write an essay about the shift away from Martin Luther King’s “beloved community” civil rights approach and towards the more militant “Black Power” approach? Be sure to take into account the atmosphere and events in the United States at the time and the integral people and organizations that shed light on the elements that lead black Americans away from supporting Dr. King’s tactics and towards “black power” in their search for economic and political equality.

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There are a variety of factors that contributed to the fall of Dr. Martin Luther King's approach and the rise of the Black Power approach to fighting for equality. MLK used peaceful protests to draw people into the fight for equality. By the time of his death, he had garnered significant support from both black and white communities. However, his methods saw a gradual decline in their effectiveness. Some of the factors that caused this are the passage of voting rights legislation, increased Northern urban racial violence, and white resentment of black militancy.

At the same time, leaders like Malcolm X were preaching that equality should be achieved by "any means necessary." Malcolm X's ideas greatly influenced the rising Black power movement. Adherents to this school of thought believed that it was vital for African Americans to achieve political and economic power by building black-controlled institutions. When Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, his movement floundered without a real leader. This is when the Black Panther Party and other black militant groups started to become more mainstream in the black community.

These are all elements that one could explore in depth in an essay on this historical transition in the history of American civil rights.

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