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Civil Rights and Song of Solomon
Transcript of Civil Rights and Song of Solomon
"I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation." Both born in 1925
Both lived in Michigan (Malcolm X lived in Detroit)
Lost family members (fathers,uncles)
Use violence as a tool
Both enjoy topics in history in geography
Similar views on politics when part of the Nation of Islam Justification "The one thing that I’ve ever said is that in areas where the government has proven itself either unwilling or unable to defend the lives and property of Negroes, it’s time for Negroes to defend themselves....It is constitutionally legal to own a rifle or a shotgun. This doesn’t mean you’re going to get a rifle and form battalions and go out looking for white folks, although you’d be within your rights- I mean you’d be justified;but that would be illegal and we don’t do anything illegal. If the white man doesn’t want the black man buying rifles and shotguns, then let the government do its job. That’s all" -Malcom X Background Family moved to Michigan after harassment from KKK in Omaha
Father was an active civil rights activist member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Killed by suspected white supremacists
Dropped out of school at 15 after discouraged to become a lawyer
1952 dropped last name "Little" as relic of slavery
Joined Nation of Islam, advocated for separation though any means necessary
Became an alternative to MLK
After falling out with Elijah Muhammad left Nation of Islam, traveled to Mecca
Began advocating for non violence on return
assassinated in February 1965 by three Nation of Islam members Macon "Milkman" Martin Luther Nonviolent and the Civil Rights Movement King, Jr. (Wasser.) Resistance Milkman had held himself very still all the time Guitar spoke. Now he felt tight, shriveled, and cold.
“You? You’re going to kill people?”
“Not people. White people.”
“I just told you. It’s necessary; it’s got to be done. To keep the ratio the same.”
“And if it isn’t done? If it just goes on the way it has?”
“Then the world is a zoo, and I can’t live in it.”
“Why don’t you just hunt down the ones who did the killing?Why kill innocent people? Why not just those who did it?”
“It doesn’t matter who did it. Each and every one of them could do it. So you just get any one of them. There are no innocent white people, because every one of them is a potential nigger-killer, if not an actual one.” (156) Authorial intent Black Panther Party
for Self Defense DEMANDS "The Black Panther Party for Self Defense believes the time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late... black communities of America must rise up as one man to halt the progression of a trend that leads inevitably to their total destruction." Bobby Seale "'You can't stop them from killing us, from trying to get rid of us... I help keep the numbers the same." "The other recalled his mother, who he believed had emasculated him by wanting him to be white. The play ended with the murder of the mother, as the audience shouted, 'Kill her! Kill her!'" 135 "'If you do it enough, you can do it to anybody...'" 1950s 1920s Black Panthers VIOLENCE Black PRIDE and Power "Keeping the balance" MURDER How does the idea of "love vs. hate," which both Guitar and Martin Luther King bring up, affect the motivations of both Song of Solomon characters and civil rights leaders? How would different characters from Song of Solomon react to the Civil Rights Movement? Who, if anyone, would they have followed? Consider Macon Dead II, Pilate, Ruth, and Hagar. "True pacifism is not nonresistance to evil, but nonviolent resistance to evil. [...] Gandhi resisted evil with as much vigor and power as the violent resister, but he resisted with love instead of hate." (King, 80.) "Before his father could draw his hand back, Milkman had yanked him by the back of his coat collar, up out of his chair, and knocked him into the radiator." (Morrison, 67.) Dead III Based on the book and the civil rights movement, what was the difference between racial tensions in the North and the South? How did this affect the manner in which black Americans dealt with racism? "What kind of life is that?"
"There's no love in it."
"No love? No love? Didn't you hear me? What I'm doing ain't about hating white people. It's about loving us. About loving you. My whole life is love."
"Man, you're confused."
"Am I? When those concentration camp Jews hunt down Nazis, are they hating Nazis or loving dead Jews?"
"It's not the same thing."
"Only because they have money and publicity."
"No; because they turn them over to the courts. You kill and you don't kill the killers. You kill innocent people." (Morrison, 159.) Father-son relationship Martin Luther King Jr MLK and "milk" King and Milkman are products of their environments - thus, their worldviews differ Both go beyond expectations for both their race and their class, showing strength and changing over the course of their lives (Nobelprize.org.) Milkman becomes more like King towards the end of the book, especially with regards to his beliefs about violence Seven Days Why did Morrison include the analogies between the characters and the civil rights movement? Oakland, California How do Milkman's similarities with more violent civil rights groups and Guitar's common characteristics with peaceful groups show the complexities of the civil rights movement? Political "Nothing personal" Similarities and Differences Malcolm after leaving the Nation of Islam, expanded his views on race and renounced violence
Differences on the value of names and history " “You sound like that red-headed Negro named X. Why don’t you join him and call yourself Guitar X?”“X, Bains—what difference does it make? I don’t give a damn about names.”“You miss his point. His point is to let white people know you don’t accept your slave name.”“I don’t give a shit what white people know or even think. Besides, I do accept it. It’s part of who I am. Guitar is my name. Bains is the slave master’s name. And I’m all of that. Slave names don’t bother me; but slave status does.” Compare and contrast the justification Malcolm X and Guitar give for their actions or the actions of others.