Essay about Fannie Lou Hamer and Malcolm X

Essay about Fannie Lou Hamer and Malcolm X

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Both Fannie Lou Hamer and Malcolm X rejected the idea that the main goal of the civil rights movement should be based on an aspiration to gain rights “equal” to those of white men and to assimilate into white culture. They instead emphasized a need to empower Black Americans.1 Their ideas were considered radical at a time when Martin Luther King Jr. preached the potential of white and black americans to overcome “the race issue” together and in a gradual manner. Malcolm X’s attempt to achieve his goals through revolutionary top-down methods and Fannie Lou Hamer’s focus on the need for grassroots movements contributed to the Civil Rights movement significantly by encouraging and assisting Black Americans.
Fannie Lou Hamer and Malcolm X, like most civil rights activists, were exposed to the horrors of racism on a daily basis. These two leaders in particular, recognized a recurring theme of conscious oppression of Black Americans on the part of white Americans and identified the ways in which the “dominant” social group benefited from such oppression. Fannie Lou Hamer’s experience sharecropping and within the justice system helped her to develop an ideology of civil rights that centered on the empowerment of Black Americans. When Hamer was six years old the owner of the plantation on which her family lived and worked encouraged her to pick cotton. Making it seem like a game or challenge, the owner offered her a reward of food, knowing that the young girl was going hungry as a result of the limited amount of food he supplied to her family. Just like that, Hamer was tricked into picking cotton to earn minimal rewards.2 This anecdote from her life parallels the struggle of many sharecroppers at the time. Released from slavery, Black me...

... middle of paper ...

...actions on the part of Black activists empowered a generation to struggle for their most basic civil rights.

Works Cited

1. George Breitman, editor, Malcolm X Speaks, (New York: Grove Press, 1965), 108-114.
2. Chana Kai Lee, For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 3-5.
3. Johnson, lecture.
4. Excerpt from Senate Report 693, 46th Congress, 2nd Session (1880). Posted on December 19, 2003.
5. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, 157-160.
6. Lee, For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, 140.
7. Lee, For Freedom’s Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, 137-143.
8. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, 64-71.
9. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, 72-87.
10. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, 164-165.
11. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, 33-36.

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