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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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“Dr. King wants the same thing I do, Freedom”

End demonization of Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party

Oftentimes Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are taught almost as opposing forces. There are undertones that MLK’s protests methods are the better of the two. Schools will teach that MLK was a smiley, nonviolent and passionate pastor who held that nonviolence was the only path to freedom. For Malcolm X, he is painted as violent and deviant, and more times than not, his Muslim faith is contrasted negatively against MLK’s Christian one.

I reject this fully.

Black history/politics curriculum is usually written and taught by white people, which leads to the whitewashing and the loss of “oomf ” in black history and politics.

For example, many children are taught Rosa Parks didn’t get up when told to on the bus because she was tired after working a long day. When in reality, Ms. Parks’ refusal to get up had been planned the whole time. A different lesson gets taught when minor details get left out.

In the case of MLK, Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, oftentimes the minor detail left out is that MLK was becoming more militant and starting to think more like Malcolm X around the time of his murder. The same goes for Malcolm X. He had started to take on an attitude similar to Dr. King’s when he was murdered.

ILLUSTRATION: KAITLYN PATTERSON ’20/THE HAWK

The Black Panthers are often labeled as domestic terrorists and gang members, when in reality they were just parents, uncles, aunties and community members who sought to protect and provide for their over policed communities that were being terrorized by white people.

The Panthers, in fact, did a lot of community service and projects which they called survival programs like free breakfast for school children, health clinics, the Intercommunal Youth Institute, Seniors Against A Fearful Environment, People’s Free Ambulance Program and People’s Free Food program just to name a few.

On top of that, they “policed the police” during a time when police officers were abusing their power and position and inflicting terror on black communities.

In California (the birthplace of the Black Panther Party), there were open carry laws, which allowed Panthers to walk around with their guns supervising arrests and other interactions with the police to ensure they were doing their job correctly and not being abusive to those in their community. California was quick to change their open carry laws once Panthers were using it for their advantage (quick factoid: The NRA supported gun control when it came to disarming black people, digest that how you will).

So in essence, both the Panthers and Malcolm X had the goals of protecting and empowering the black community. The only reason they don’t get praised the same way MLK does is because Malcolm X and the Black Panthers’ legacy can’t be twisted into propaganda and made into docile compassionate negroes like MLK.

The Panthers are the type of revolutionaries those who write history don’t want people to think of as good because they realize the power these people had. This is why J. Edgar Hoover had the FBI murder Fred Hampton, a young, promising rising leader of the Black Panther Party. Hoover claimed that he wanted to prevent a “black messiah” that would have united black nationalists.

In fact, this is listed in Hoover’s counter intelligence program goals is as follows:

“Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community” and “Prevent the RISE OF A “MESSIAH” who could unify, and electrify, the black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a “messiah;” he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this position. Elijah Muhammed is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed “obedience” to “white, liberal doctrines” (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”

Let me be clear, I have no problems with Martin Luther King Jr.; he did a lot for our community. However, his legacy is often used to undermine that of Malcolm X and the Panthers. This is why people should untrain their brain to think about X and the Black Panther Party in a negative way.

They protected their communities and provided for them because the government and the law would not. Ask yourself, why should black people have had to turn the other cheek? Would you not be mad if people beat you in the street or murdered your people for no reason other than the color of your skin?

Grotesque acts against black people such as Emmet Till’s murder don’t allow for the privilege of being nonviolent. The labels put on X and the Panthers is unjust and the result of a white supremacist agenda.

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