preview

Malcom X and Non-violence

Better Essays
"My life has always been one of changes" (436). Malcolm X, throughout his life, was one of the most influential, and quite possibly the most effective, civil rights activists of the twentieth century. His "radical" ideas and views were widely sought after from the oppressed African-American population in the 1950s and 60s. The changes he underwent throughout his life affected his views of a racist America and inspired him to lead a dedicated life preaching, what he thought to be, the only method of promoting change in the hearts and minds of every citizen in the United States; nonviolence. The issue of violence loomed large in Malcolm X's rhetoric. In his speech's and public appearances he refused to repudiate violence, realizing that most of the white Americans who applauded other civil rights activist's ideas of nonviolence, realizing that most of them would not react nonviolently themselves in the face of violence. "Nonviolence is fine as long as it works" (Malcolm X). This statement made by Malcolm X gave a broad overview of his personal stance on violence and its necessity in the fight for civil rights. Malcolm X never once promoted violence unless "it was in self defense." Malcolm X so adamantly preached this idea, but his messages to the public unfortunately did the opposite; they acted on violence instead of reacting to it. Protestors saw this statement as a method to violently protest with the idea that the means were necessary; that they were brutality oppressed. The blame then was placed on Malcolm X for "encouraging" the riots. Thus, Malcolm X was sincere in rejecting nonviolence, but it was X's audience who made his message appear to be violent.

Violence and discrimination were first introduced at a ve...

... middle of paper ...

...ets his early experience of racism in the context of American history and society. He begins to see black people in general, rather than just himself, as victims of racism. Malcolm X rejected nonviolence as a principle, but he sought cooperation with other civil rights activists who favored aggressive nonviolent protests. He preached to react when necessary, but his message was unfortunately misinterpreted and therefore all accusations were aimed at Malcolm X and his "violent, radical practices (Zinn 467)." Malcolm X never advocated violence as an effective method in reforming a racist society, he did however, promote retaliation in the event of violent actions taken on black-Americans during the civil rights era. He preached what any white man would have done in a black man's situation: to react when assaulted.

Haley, Alex. "The Autobiolography of Malcom X."
Get Access