Black Power Movement

  • Created by: Pip Dan
  • Created on: 20-09-17 14:13

The Black Power movement was at its extreme a black nationalist movement. Most of its followers did not take such a radical stance but did believe that peaceful protest was ineffectual and instead black culture should be more celebrated. The movement had key aims, it called for racial dignity, for economic and political self-sufficiency and freedom from white oppression.


Most of the support for the Black Power movement was urban based and in the north of American. After the Second World War more than half of America's black population lived in the north and west's industrial cities. As the industries in these cities went into decline the job market collapsed. Poor African-Americans became concentrated in neighbourhoods with poor quality housing, poor quality education and high crime rates. Relationships with the mainly white police forces were fragile. Black people felt they were not treated the same as the white people in the neighbourhood. Black people were attracted to the messages of racial pride, of economic self-help, of separatism and self-defence. The cities experienced race riots between 1965 and 1967. There were riots in Harlem, Philadelphia, Watts, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago , Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland. Many African-Americans in northern cities felt that they had been little effected by the peaceful Civil Rights Movement which had been focused in the South.

Popularity of Black Power

In the late 1960s there was increase in African-Americans who wanted to advance their question for equality through violent means. There are various reasons for this:

  • Some people were frustrated with the Peaceful Protest movement. It was often argued that the movement were too slow in achieving change and that more radical action would force change to happen at a faster pace. Furthermore, it is also certainly true that the peaceful movement had achieved little progress in the North, where frustration grew
  • There was also some misgivings about Martin Luther King who people argued that, as he was from the south, King did not understand the north
  • It was often argued that King in particular did not understand the issues in the northern ghettos, where the black power movement was strong those born in poverty could not break out from the ghetto. Only 32% of ghetto pupils finished High School. Low skilled jobs were in decline, 46% of those unemployed were black.. The ghettoes were places of unemployment, poor housing, poverty, poor education and violence. They exploded into violence each summer between 1964-68
  • The Federal Government had also angered African-American's because of the recruitment to the Vietnam war. Those in University were exempt; however, due to the educational inequality which was fuelled by economic inequality a disproportionate number of African-Americans went into the war
  • The Black Power movement also had different aims (separatism, black pride and self-help) which would have been more attractive to certain people
  • There was also a focus on economic changes in the Black Power movement which did not have such an emphasis in the peaceful protests. It was these de facto issues which


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