This post was originally posted at The New Democrat Plus
To me at least Black Power wasn’t one movement, but a larger movement with several different sub-divisions. You had the more socialist if not Marxist revolutionary Black Panthers on the Far-Left with their own militia. You had Malcolm X and his movement that was sort of in the middle. That was truly about freedom and individualism for the African-American community and for them to be free to live their own lives. And you had the more social democratic pacifist movement led by Martin Luther King and his organization as well. But all of these groups essentially had similar if not the same goals, but with different tactics in how to accomplish those goals.
All three of these groups wanted power for the entire African-American community. That would not longer be forced to live under poverty, racism and have to be second-class citizens to Caucasian-Americans. I think one of the tragedies of Malcolm X being murdered in 1965 is that he and his movement I believe would’ve been a bumper between the Black Panthers and the MLK group. And perhaps without the Malcolm X being murdered maybe we don’t see the race riots that we did in 1965 and 66. We’ll never know that, but he was moderating before he was murdered in 1965 and maybe we would’ve seen that.
Black Power for the most part wasn’t about having African-Americans throwing the Caucasian community out of power in the 1960s and overthrowing the U.S. Government. It was about empowering an entire community of Americans to be able to live in their own freedom as well. And no longer forced to live under anyone else’s authority. The Black Panthers might have had more extreme leftist goals of overthrowing and entire country. But generally speaking the people in Black Power movement was about empowering African-Americans. And only using violence when it was used against them.