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The Civil Rights Movement in America
The Autobiography of Malcolm X discusses the civil rights movement at length. The '50's and the '60's saw the civil rights movement in America gathering momentum. The high point of this Movement was the March to Washington in 1963, which ended with the famous speech made by Rev. Martin Luther King jr.: "I have a Dream…" Malcolm X looks at this movement with a critical eye. Firstly, he did not look at the question of racial discrimination as an internal or a civil rights issue. He believed that it was a human rights issue and ought to be made an international question.
Also, he disagreed with the methods used by prominent civil rights leaders of his time in their struggle against Apartheid. Joining hands, Sit-ins and marches, he thought would not help fight racism. Moreover, civil rights leaders spoke of the need for integration - an idea, which Malcolm X was totally opposed to. Also, he believed that white men financially supported most of the black leaders. And it is they who decided the agenda or programs for their movement. According to him, blacks should not seek to integrate into white society. This would only make them more dependent on the whites. Instead, he urged all blacks to unite and create their own resources-for employment and education.
Malcolm's visit to several African countries convinced him that given the opportunity, blacks had the capacity and the intellect to do whatever the Whites had achieved in the U.S.. Unlike in the States, where besides menial jobs, the only other professions open to the blacks was Sports and the Entertainment business; in Africa Malcolm saw and met black pilots and even Presidents. This, while in America a black lawyer or professor was a rare sight.
Initially, as a member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X openly criticized the civil rights leaders and their methods. However, he later realized the need for black unity despite ideological differences. He believed that it was better to go along with the black civil rights leaders, whilst discussing their differences instead of staying away and opposing them. For the latter stand would only help those interests, which would benefit from the lack of unity among black Americans.