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

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25 Citations (Scopus)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-950
JournalJournal of Black Studies
Volume38
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

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