Civil Divides Can Create a War within a Movement

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Michael J. Pettengell
William H Brooks III
March 1, 2014

“Civil Divides Can Create a War within a Movement”

In the quest of creating a movement many wars must be fought, and yet only the visible wars are recognized, many unseen events are absent from our history of today. The result of these wars can become a foundation, leaving behind bloodshed or celebration. These wars can also become civil and be fought upon the frontlines of its foundation amongst its very own pioneers, leaving its true purpose invisible to an entire nation. Such was the struggle/war for equality that was shared between blacks and other minorities in the late 60’s; this indeed was a brutal pursuit towards true happiness. The pursuit of this constitutional right became the roots of a movement, a movement that would unite all races across the wide spectrum of humanity and unify anyone that believed in true equality for all. There is always a sign of movement going on when looking through the hourglass of life, and some of these movements may even seem irrelevant when gazing upon the fullness of the hourglass, but when that hourglass is nearly empty then we realize that every grain of sand in that hourglass is significant as a whole. I choose to look at the history of the Civil Rights movement through this very same hourglass, observing the different personalities that influenced the minds of many to become shakers and movers of that era. Some of these personalities were well known, like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, but many of them remained rural identities within the Civil Rights Movement itself. Some common identities such as those mentioned earlier reflect the great divide that coexisted within the Civil Rights Movement, for even though these leaders / activist shared a common goal, they were extremely diverse in methods of thinking, education, and politics. Usually when we look at wars we recognize only the names of the leaders and generals, but what about the foot soldier? Was not his sacrifice and service just as great? I feel that no amount of sacrifice can be measured when fighting together for a common cause. When any movement moves it moves together despite the various and opposing mechanics that give it life. Many examples of opposition can be found throughout the Civil Rights Movement, including people such as Malcolm X, Dr. King, W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. All of these leaders had very different viewpoints on how to obtain equality as well but became allied enemies that were willing to walk hand and hand with their exact polar opposites to achieve their ultimate objective. Even though Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were both champions in the Civil Rights Movement and spoke out against racial discrimination, they both chose different courses of action to achieve our racial resolve. These two opposite thinking men had similarities such as both of their fathers being leaders within the community of the Baptist church. In fact these two great leaders in their youth grew up inside of the Baptist church’s congregation. The differences between Malcolm X and Dr. King could be also said to have derived from the presence of or lack thereof a father figure in both of their adolescence years. This also is an issue that contributes to the divide within the movement and is represented through the irony of the haves and the have not’s which I will discuss in further detail a little later. I would say that Dr. King’s childhood life was more privileged than that of Malcolm X’s childhood, because Dr. King’s family was present in his life always supporting him, as where Malcolm X was not as fortunate having to rely mostly on himself and street smarts just to get by. Malcolm X looked up to the pimps and pushers of the streets because there was no consistent seat provided for him by the pulpit. This is a primary example of the have not whose mind becomes militant and troubled...