The Black Power Movement and the Civil Rights Movement

What is Black Power? What were some of the key factors that defined this era? How does the Black Power Movement differ from the Civil Rights Movement?

Black Power was a revolutionary movement in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a political and social organization whose advocates believed in racial pride, self-sufficiency, and equality for all people of Black and African descent (David Hoffman, 2013). Before the events leading to the formation of what came to be known as the Black Panther Party, the movement engaged in nonviolent demonstrations, led by Martin Luther King. However, in the mid-1960s, many believed that nonviolent means were largely unsuccessful in combating racism. As a result, new organizations, such as the Black Panther Party, came up with new ways to help in this shift. The movement resulted from the principles of racial price, autonomy, and self-determination expressed by people like Malcolm X and encouraged Afro-Americans to create economic, social, and political power of their own. According to David Hoffman, the movement was represented mainly as violent and anti-law enforcement such that some parents would deny their black children from joining the party.

Among the factors that defined this era was the rise in the number of young Afro-Americans without jobs and those who could not access education. Yet, this group aspired to become successful in the country. As the movement embraced violent means of protecting the black communities, many people became negative about it. Still, the organized food programs and free medical centers earned the party significant support in the country (David Hoffman, 2013). However, in the early 1970s, the FBI engaged in a systemic elimination of what they perceived as a threat to the United States democracy, killing several black panthers and imprisoning tens.

The difference between the Civil Rights movement of 1954 to 68 and the Black Power movement was that the former, made up of middle-class people, sought equality with the whites. On the contrary, the latter assumed equality of person and saw the opportunity to express that equality. Contrary to the civil rights movement, supporters of the black power movement were willing to use violent means to achieve their objectives.


David Hoffman. (2013). The Dawn Of Black Power [Video]. YouTube.