Malcolm X, Wyatt Tee Walker, Allan Morrison, and James Farmer Debate the Civil Rights Movement

Here is a June 12, 1963 debate between Malcolm X, Wyatt Tee Walker, Allan Morrison, and James Farmer on the best tactics to get full equality for African Americans in the United States. These 4 men were exemplary leaders who came to the human rights struggles of the black community from very different perspectives. Malcolm X at that time was an American Muslim minister for the Nation of Islam and promoted black empowerment and self sufficiency from the wider white society. Wyatt Tee Walker was chief of staff for Martin Luther King, Jr., a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and was involved in formulating tactics in several of the civil rights protests in the South in the early 1960s. Allan Morrison was the editor of Ebony magazine, an important publication that promoted civil rights and the contributions of black artists. James Farmer was the co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality and he organized the 1961 Freedom Rides as well as other civil rights campaigns.

During the debate, these 4 leaders discussed issues that every social justice movement deals with: whether to pursue pragmatic reforms or political revolution; the tensions between compromise versus ideological purity; whether one should pursue incremental victories within the system or pursue radical change outside the system.

After 1963, all of these men faced great changes in their thinking. Malcolm X had a falling out with the Nation of Islam and apologized for his anti-white statements after taking a trip to Mecca and seeing whites treat him without racism. Though Malcolm X never accepted the nonviolence philosophy of the Southern civil rights movement, he grew to respect them and saw the need for building coalitions in support of the wider fight for human rights. .At the end of this video, James Farmer and Wyatt Tee Walker reflected on the debate in 1993 and both said that they adopted Malcolm’s ideas on empowerment, the need to lift black self-eseem and the insight that political equality is linked with economic justice.

Any social justice movement that claims to be fighting for democracy will have its debates between the reformers within the system and the radicals outside the system. Though they are often arguing amongst themselves on tactics, social change is not possible without both reformers and radicals.

About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He did a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 and 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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