The contributions of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers had both positive and negative effects on the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The peaceful protest efforts of those within the movement had gained some ground in breaking down segregation and restrictive voting laws.These peaceful methods helped gain support for the movement and quite often white Americans joined in the peaceful protests like ‘sit-ins and ‘freedom walks.’
Sadly, there was a backlash from those Americans who did not want change to occur. Not only did peaceful protesters find themselves under arrest, they were also targets of assault from counter-protesters. Ku Klux Klan became very active and many civil rights activists were maimed or killed.
Enter, Malcolm X and the militant group, the Black Panthers. Many of the members of this group were former military men and had served in Vietnam. These men and women were frustrated with the minimal change as well as the violent backlash and advocated revolutionary tactics to bring about the necessary changes so all African Americans could be equal partners in pursuing the American Dream. They believed only a violent uprising would work in destroying all the mechanisms for oppression.
The American government, however, worked to suppress this movement, as they could not allow any revolutionary activity to take root. Furthermore, the civil rights movement lost some of the support they had previously enjoyed from non-African Americans.
Despite this, the battle cries of ‘Black Power” and “Black Pride” resonated within the community and continues to resonate even today. This movement allowed even the most peace-loving African American to truly believe in and cherish the value of their race and their culture. To be African American was no longer defined solely as the descendants of slaves, for all Americans and most importantly in the psyche of the African American.