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Fighting for Our Place in the Sun

Malcolm X and the Radicalization of the Black Student Movement 1960–1973

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Richard Benson

In Fighting for Our Place in the Sun, Richard D. Benson II examines the life of Malcolm X as not only a radical political figure, but also as a teacher and mentor. The book illuminates the untold tenets of Malcolm X’s educational philosophy, and also traces a historical trajectory of Black activists that sought to create spaces of liberation and learning that are free from cultural and racial oppression. It explains a side of the Black student movement and shift in black power that develops as a result of the student protests in North Carolina and Duke University. From these acts of radicalism, Malcolm X Liberation University (MXLU), the Student Organization for Black Unity (SOBU/YOBU), and African Liberation Day (ALD) were produced to serve as catalysts to extend the tradition of Black activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Scholars, researchers, community organizers, and students of African-American studies, American studies, history of education, political science, Pan-African studies, and more will benefit from this provocative and enlightening text.

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Chapter 3: Purges, Proscriptions, and New Directions. Black Student Protests and a Call for a Black University, 1966–1969

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3Purges, Proscriptions, and New Directions Black Student Protests and a Call for a Black University, 1966–1969 Many so-called Black religious and political leaders start out with sincerity and a deter- mination to help the Black race in its struggle for justice and equality but are trapped and processed into Uncle Toms by cunning white politicians and a conditioned yen for “silken living.” Of course there are Blacks who successfully resist the process, but they usually suffer stunted careers and are shunted to oblivion by the Master.1 —Robert Beck, The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim The enigmatic concept of Black Power not only left the civil rights landscape stunned, it also forced an ideological split between the Student Nonviolent Coor- dinating Committee (SNCC) and the elder leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). By 1967, SNCC had emerged as an organization that consisted of battle-tested organizers whose entrance into the Movement as youth enabled action that threw caution to the wind. SNCC’s evolution into a professional organization by the latter part of the 1960s signaled the tenuous route that many student-activists had taken in their quests to become change agents and seek out the meaning of social justice as well as their own identity. The call for Black Power also spoke to the aspect of youthful zeal that was not bound by inhibitions but rather welcomed the challenges ahead. For the Black membership of SNCC, the struggle, their struggle, would need to represent not only themselves and what they...

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