Malcolm X, Smethwick, and the influence of the African American freedom struggle on British race relations in the 1960s

Street, Joe (2008) Malcolm X, Smethwick, and the influence of the African American freedom struggle on British race relations in the 1960s. Journal of Black Studies, 38 (6). pp. 932-950. ISSN 0021-9347

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0021934706291192

Abstract

In February 1965, Malcolm X visited Smethwick, a small U.K. town that had recently elected Peter Griffiths as its Member of Parliament on a borderline racist anti-immigration platform. His comments there caused a minor furor in the British press. An examination of the events leading to his visit reveals crucial differences between racial attitudes in the United Kingdom and the United States; his arrival threatened to erase these differences. Malcolm X's appearance in a town near Enoch Powell's Wolverhampton constituency played a key role in the development of the racial atmosphere that peaked in April 1968 with Powell's notorious "Rivers of Blood" speech, which expressed profound discomfort at the development of race relations both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Malcolm X's comments also offer further evidence of his broadening conceptions of race and racism, offering suggestive pointers as to the increasing importance of Islam to his thought.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: V100 History by period
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 24 May 2010 10:47
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2015 11:14
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/1321

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