The 1950s and '60s were the dawning of a new American experience. It was the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. It was the beginning of the Muslim religion under Elijah Mohammad. It was a time when the Negro voice began to express its dissatisfaction with the status quo. Many spoke with many voices and expressions. Because the Muslims under the guidance of Mohammad vigorously and blatantly endorsed hate, there were few in the mainstream who would listen.
Out of that organization came the most vocal and the most compelling. It was Malcolm X (Shabazz). In his early days, he too advocated hate and many turned away. Then his pilgrimage to Mecca happened and his voice and message changed. In the end, he and Martin Luther King, were basically advocating for the same thing but in the language of their constituency so that the message could be understood. Because I refrained from listening to his message while he was alive, I've been very uneasy about saying anything positive or negative about the man. It's only been in the last 20 or so years that I've finally allowed myself the education of hearing what the man had to say. Amazingly, what I learned was what he described in the early '60s is what now exists in the 21st Century, more than 50 years later, which leaves me wondering whether we've actually made any progress whatsoever with regard to true equality.
Instead, they turned to figures leading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference or SCLC. From that organization came leadership by Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Bayard Rustin, and Fred Shuttlesworth.
Then came Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC for short. But it, too, became radicalized and promoted violence in order to meet its ends. It's demise was inevitable although its founding ideas were admirable. Names we should remember from that organization are Ella Baker, John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, Hubert "Rap" Brown.
Collectively, the SCLC, SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and the National Urban League became known as the Big Five, each with a special focus for bringing equality to the land.