“Malcolm X Holding Up Black Muslim Newspaper”: The Police Are Oblivious To Our Non-Violence Approach. Essays Examples
It is often said that a picture can speak a thousand words. This means that a picture has the ability to effectively deliver a message that would be otherwise not be delivered effectively through the word of mouth. Malcolm X is a name that is often mentioned in the United States whenever people are talking about the struggle for equality in the United States. Together with Martin Luther King, he was one of the fiercest leaders of his struggle. Unlike Dr. King who was a massive proponent of non-violence during the fight for civil rights, Malcolm was not so sure that non-violence would bring about any change to the system that was so oppressive towards blacks (Rabaka 146). Malcolm X postulated that blacks ought to stand up and fight for their civil rights even with violence if need be. He used various examples of white people and police inflicting brutality on black people to pass the message that violence should be met with violence. One of his most iconic pictures ever captured was during a rally in New York where he held a Muslim newspaper whose headline was “Seven Unarmed Negroes Shot in Cold Blood by Los Angeles Police”. This picture is black and white and was taken by Gordon Parks and was taken during a rally in Harlem, New York in 1963. This picture is a perfect depiction of the events that were taking place during this time. The picture of Malcolm X holding up a Black Newspaper shows police brutality that was advanced towards members of the black community and brings forth the message that the police were a trigger-happy group of people who had no sympathy for blacks, even those unarmed and innocent, and that non-violence and restraint on the part of blacks would not solve the many problems that were ailing them.
The context of the picture describes an incidence that was very prevalent during the civil rights movements. This was black people being attacked by the police with the final outcome in some incidences being death. Malcolm X was gaining a lot of popularity among blacks in the North because of his message of unity, self-reliance, and black pride. This was at a time when blacks were getting frustrated by the peaceful civil rights movement especially in the south which up to now had failed to bring about any observable change. Although the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King was very rife during this period, it has not managed to alleviate some of the problems that many blacks not only in the South but across the country that they were experiencing (Rabaka 147). These included joblessness or unemployment as well as de facto segregation and police brutality.
This picture covers this final aspect brilliantly. It speaks volumes about the nature of police and black relations during this era and at the same time depicts what X thought about it. It portrays the police as a trigger happy entity especially towards blacks and that was, therefore, ready to even kill against the law. As it was mentioned earlier, it is often said that a picture can speak a thousand words, and this is exactly what happens in this picture. Malcolm could have gone on explaining and talking about how police were extending brutality towards blacks especially members of the Black Muslims community who were considered to be troublesome. Instead, he decided to use a picture that would effectively deliver the message to the audience without even having even the need to have any words spoken.
The works or text encompassed in this famous picture also speaks volumes about the situation. The wording of the mentioned headline has been carefully chosen and there is no doubt that it will rile the black community when they read about how several of their own were murdered in cold blood by the police. Malcolm was known for preaching the message of blacks doing whenever was necessary in order to gain their rights, and there is no doubt that this picture would support his cause. The use of the words “unarmed” and “shot in cold blood” are without a doubt meant to elicit a lot of emotions in many of the members of the black community. Many will wonder why the police would murder seven unarmed black individuals when the law calls for an unarmed person to be arrested, and then legally prosecuted for whatever crime they have committed.
The anger is likely to further increase with the realization that no justice would prevail at this time given that even if the men who committed this atrocious activity were apprehended and sent to court, they were likely to walk free because of a criminal justice system that was also biased (Horne 442). By holding this picture of a Black Muslim Newspaper with a headline on police brutality, Malcolm X communicates a host of messages to his supporters and his listeners.
The first message is that the police are uncompromising and are willing to take even the life of the unarmed and innocent as they try to wipe out the Black Muslim community. In the same breath, Malcolm X in this picture is passing the message that no black person is safe from police brutality. Most of the black Americans were unarmed, just like the seven people described in the picture and who were brutally murdered by the police. This aspect is in fact very important as it is essentially the foundation of Malcolm’s movement and philosophy.
Malcolm X did not believe that non-violence would bring about restraint among the police (Horne 441). It did not matter of the black protested silently or used non-violence; the outcome would always be one, and this is massive police brutality (Harper 390). This message is brought out very clearly in this image of Malcolm holding a Black Muslim newspaper that depicts the death of unarmed persons. The image depicts the basic message behind Malcolm X’s philosophy and this is that blacks had to turn to other means of achieving what they wanted even if it meant being violent because the current institution was oblivious to any restraint or non-violence shown by the police and was always willing to rain fire on them regardless (Harper 391).
In conclusion, it is clear that a picture has the ability to communicate a very powerful message especially when applied in the right context. The famous picture of Malcolm X holding a black Muslim newspaper that was taken by Dorothy Parks peaks a very strong message about the nature of police and black people relations and brings forth the message that the police were a trigger-happy group of people who had no sympathy for blacks even those unarmed and innocent. This was the foundation of Malcolm X philosophy where he aimed to show that non-violence and restraint on the part of black would not solve the many problems that wee ailing them. This artwork speaks personally to me as it shows how our nation has come from. The message in the picture is perhaps even more impactful given the recent events that have been taking place in the country where innocent black people have been murdered in cold blood by white police officers, for example, the recent case of Michael Brown. It shows that our country still has a long way to go in terms of eliminating police brutality towards minorities. I am an active observer in this artwork because I live in the community where some of the actions described take place. The artwork affirms my belief in equality and the rule of law, particularly the belief that every party deserves to have a day in court instead of being mercilessly murdered in the street for a crime that has not been proven.
Rabaka, Reiland. "Malcolm X and/as Critical Theory Philosophy, Radical Politics, and the African American Search for Social Justice." Journal of Black Studies 33.2 (2002): 145-165.
Harper, Frederick D. "The influence of Malcolm X on black militancy." Journal of Black Studies (1971): 387-402.
Horne, Gerald. "Myth" and the Making of" Malcolm X." The American Historical Review (1993): 440-450.
"Spencer Museum of Art | Collection - Malcolm X Holding Up Black Muslim Newspaper, Harlem, New York." Spencer Museum of Art | Collection - Collection | Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://collection.spencerart.ku.edu/eMuseumPlus?service=ExternalInterface&module=collection&objectId=18183>.