“We are black folks first”: the black freedom struggle in Rochester, NY and the making of Malcolm X

This paper illustrates the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement in Rochester, NY with Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Drawing on newspapers, organizational records, and oral history interviews, I develop a community study that examines Malcolm X’s relationship to this small northern city, prior to its 1964 “race riot.” I argue three points: 1) Rochester had a significant impact on Malcolm’s evolving philosophy as it related to black unity; 2) national tensions between the Nation of Islam and civil rights organizations, while seen as irreconcilable in the dominant literature, were not necessarily reproduced at the local level; 3) the study of the black movement in smaller cities like Rochester tells a different story, and in so doing reshapes and transforms the larger national narratives. The Rochester case provides a more nuanced telling of Malcolm’s life and labors throughout the Sixties.

Here is the link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17541328.2010.525842?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=rsix20

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