Assassination of Malcolm X (1965)

547px-MLK_and_Malcolm_X_USNWR_croppedMalcolm X was the primary figurehead of the Black Power Movement. While Martin Luther King Jr and the SCLC advocated non-violent protest and sought “black and white together” equality within existing capitalist structures, Malcolm X advocated racial pride and black community, separate of white culture. The black power movement sought black economic and political independence. Malcolm X was a member of the Nation of Islam, which similarly sought black independence, often through rhetoric of black supremacy, and was notably anti-Semitic.  Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam in 1964 saying it had “gone as far as it can” due to its rigid teachings. Members of the Nation of Islam assassinated Malcolm X February 21, 1965. Television coverage worked to position Malcolm X as the villain of the civil rights movement. When Malcolm X was on screen cameras provided a close-up of his face, a frame historically associated with villainy. Malcolm X’s rhetoric of black power directly opposed the “black and white together” ideal that television was interested in promoting due to its desire for a national audience. Television’s depiction of Malcolm X was highly influential in the nation’s perception of him and the black power movement.

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