What was the difference between the Civil Rights Movement and the urban Black Panthers Civil Rights Revolution?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In American history, the Civil Rights Movement was a long series of events in the freeing of Black Slaves and the equalization of rights and privileges among race and religion in the country. Identified mainly with the plight of Black slaves, the Civil Rights Movement spread to cover almost all of the prejudicial attitudes towards minorities and women, although the latter had its own defined movement in Suffrage and Feminism.

As defined by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights in America became a massive part of the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the concessions given by government, public opinion still held Blacks in low regard, to the point where public places often had separated facilities or entrances for "colored" people (this sometimes included people of Hispanic and Asian descent). Initially, the focus was on the equality of all human races to each other, and the moral and ethical dishonesty of prejudice against skin color. The successes of the Civil Rights Movement came mainly from slow public acceptance in music, television, politics, and writing; King's legacy of peaceful demonstrations were often tainted with violence, both from within and without.

The Black Panther Party (1966-1976, not affiliated with the New Black Panthers today) was a diverse group of militant African-Americans who first organized in response to increasing police brutality against Blacks, but soon became a political and social organization focused on Black solidarity and themes of regime change and self-defense. Regarded as a fringe organization by government, the Black Panthers were ultimately able to change the Civil Rights landscape through demonstrations of strength and a focus on honesty in law enforcement; while they engaged in violence against police on occasion, they were also dedicated to poverty-awareness and before their collapse, had discarded the idea of Black Nationalism in favor of generalized Socialism without racial boundaries.

The Black Panthers played a large and very public role in the Civil Rights Movement, but their contradicting internal structure and refusal to operate inside legal boundaries made them a target of the FBI and Civil Rights opponents, who used their militant nature to discredit their goals. At the end, they acted as the emotional and impulsive opposite to King's peaceful goals of "change from within."

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