Saturday, February 25, 2012

Influence of Carter G. Woodson

     Few men, if any, can claim the title “father of black history”, but Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) is definitely one of the first to come to mind for many black history enthusiasts. Even though he is not considered a part of the modern civil rights movement, Woodson was still a founding father of sorts. As a self-educated scholar, from a poor, former slave family is surprised many that Woodson would later attend the University of Chicago and Harvard. Woodson was one of the first black scholars to study African American history. Ultimately he would come to establish the Journal of African-American History.
     Woodson is important because he acknowledged the significance of the history that was being ignored, particularly the social and economic aspects. The parts of history, that to him, described virtue and potential. Malcolm X, a relatively more popular civil rights leader had a similar ideology. Both of these men saw value in African-American history, value that held young blacks to a higher standards than was being propagandasized around the country. 
     Woodson ideas and theories founded the highlighting principles of the Civil Rights Movement we all know. He had stressed the power of speech before civil rights leaders were even born; knowing that writing could never confine the same essence and power as a speech. It’s hard to imagine how the civil rights movement would have gone without Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful preaching and Malcolm X’s stress on black pride. 
     Ultimately through the journal he founded, Journal of African-American History, and his other scholarly activities, Woodson would come to inspire and establish the Harlem Renaissance. Through Renaissance writers like James Weldon Johnson and Claude McKay Woodson’s legacy would live on. At the MXI we not only create our own history, but we recognize the ideas of Carter Woodson and don’t forget the history of how our founding fathers had pride in their heritage, and conducted their actions with higher standards.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Death of Malcolm X

     It is clear that Malcolm X experienced death threats throughout his activist career, but that never turned him away from what he felt was right. Often considered a more radical leader Malcolm X stressed the need for black men to defend themselves. The fact that he wasn’t shy about confronting the injustices taking place across America probably made his life even less safe. Many people criticized and attacked him because he used popular avenues of media to spread his message, such as television and radio
     On February 21, 1965, as Malcolm X prepared to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, three armed men shot Malcolm X multiple times leaving him with 21 gunshot wounds. The three men were seized and it was discovered that they were men from members of the Nation of Islam. The exact reason or blame of why and who exactly assassinated Malcolm X is not truly known however. All three mean have since then served their time and are free, but they still claim their innocence and so do the Leaders of the Nation of Islam. Some have accused undercover FBI and CIA programs that were founded on the disruption of the civil rights movement.
     The reason why he was assassinated should be quite obvious, Malcolm X was a powerful man and behind him he left wisdom. He went against the norm of times and spoke differently towards Islam and the civil rights movement. He inspired people to listen and be advocates for themselves, to stand up rather than sit back and watch. People feared him because he seemed radical according to MLK Jr.’s peaceful protest. He was starting a new movement across the country, black men we becoming more intelligent and fighting civil rights in a new way.
     For the Malcolm X Institute, Malcolm is strength, pride and brotherhood. The men who created the MXI would not let others choose for them, they would educate themselves and fight back against injustice. Malcolm X taught them to be proud of their heritage, to be leaders not just advocates, and the MXI would be a symbol of their pride as brothers.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Influence of Fannie Lou Hamer

     Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977), was an outspoken advocate for civil rights for African Americans. Born in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Fannie was the last of twenty children born to Jim and Ella Townsend. When she was two years old her family moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi, where she started working as a sharecropper picking cotton. By 13 she could pick between two and three hundred pounds of cotton a day, sadly Fannie spent most of her life as an agricultural worker who saw no end to the cycle of poverty and humiliation of African Americans.
     Most would say that Fannie’s activism started on August 23, 1962, when an associate organizer of Martin Luther King Jr. for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) gave a sermon in Ruleville, Mississippi and appealed for African Americans to register to vote. Fannie was the first to volunteer, totally disregarding the dangers associated with black registered voters; who often faced excessive verbal harassment, beatings, and lynching
     When it came time to actually register Fannie Lou didn’t back down, but instead lifted those around her with hymns of courage and faith. As a result for her uplifting work she was taken in as a member of the SNCC and traveled all around the south doing what she did best. Later in life Fannie continued to work in Mississippi for the Freedom Democrats and for local civil rights causes, but her focus always remained to those from the rural areas of Mississippi. Where she started and supported multiple programs for the poor in Mississippi, and all though that grew up in the same position as she did.
     When Fannie Lou Hamer died of breast cancer in 1997, her tombstone reads her famous quote, "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired". Fannie is a symbol of how even the smallest voice can become the biggest as long as they have courage. At a very young age she started questioning the social order, and as injustice takes place all over the word Fannie Lou Hamer should stand as a symbol of courage. Even under the threat of death those that have courage can make change.