Saturday, October 23, 2010

"We are the Titans!"

I know you have all seen Remember the Titans at least once. Well, at least I hope you have. At any rate, I was thinking about that movie today (you know with the big MIZZOU game and all that going on), and it crossed my mind that it is extremely relevant to the reading we are doing from Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour.
In the book, Peniel E. Joseph discusses Malcolm X and his views about other civil rights leaders we have talked about (MLK, Jackie Robinson, etc.). One of the things that struck me is his denial of Jackie Robinson truly being a civil rights leader. According to Malcolm X, Robinson was not a productive leader (nor was King) because they did not use militant actions. While Robinson defended himself by saying that "Malcolm is very militant on Harlem street corners where militancy is not dangerous," it is still shocking to think he is not considered an activist. (Joseph 79)
As I thought about Jackie Robinson, versus the teens in Remember the Titans, I could not help but wonder what Malcolm X would think about that form of civil rights. He does not seem to think that integration truly breeds civil rights (why have coffee next to whites if you are not equal?). Since the team does indeed have fights, and there are some physical ramifications for the African Americans, maybe he would consider it militant enough to pass as helping in the movement. However, it seems to me he would not think that. King, much like Coach Boone, had shots fired at his house and stones thrown through windows. King tried to integrate, much like Boone integrates his team (both in staff and in athletes).
While we have talked about reasons to discredit some of King's leadership, it struck me as odd that someone could not perceive civil rights activism in the students on the team. How is it possible that such a powerful movie could be discredited so easily according to some of the things we have read regarding Malcolm X? I think it is a little bit crazy that two of the most well known leaders could hold such totally inconsistent, conflicting views during the Civil Rights Movement. I do not know that either is entirely right, and I have no idea which side I would choose. In my opinion, I think you need to mix the two tactics together. I think I would start with nonviolence, but it someone shot at me, I would more than likely fight back. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

After having read both about the nonviolent movement and now the militant movement, led by Malcolm X, which method do you think you would use? Which is really more productive, if any?


  1. I think that I would have to agree with you on this one Carolyn. I feel like Malcolm X was so frustrated with the status quo and I can definitely understand where his anger was coming from. I can see how he felt the need to, not integrate, but empower the black community while denouncing the white one. However, I can also see how this would not be a very productive tactic in the future. Therefore, I would have to move more towards the nonviolent tactic with King. Unfortunately, I would neither have the strength nor the will power to be constantly attacked and standby to do nothing about it. So, I would only participate in nonviolent marches when I knew that there would be someone at the corner...kind of like Charles Davis. I think that the most successful tactic back in those days was to be nonviolent...with a hidden agenda...

  2. I agree with you Carolyn. Protest art and literature has many facets and the criteria that constitutes one aspect of protest literature may not apply to another. This is exactly why there should be a basic criterion for protest works. Naturally, people will agree that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King are vital to the Civil Rights movement. I doubt that anyone in the Black community will argue with this point. However, when other forms of protest, such as instances in Remember the Titans occur, some individuals may argue that this is not protest. There is no message to portray but I disagree. The courage that those teens had in the movie invoked a mental change and, in my opinion, this sets off the change of revolution. Every action originates within an idea.
    I agree that the tactics that Malcolm X and Martin King employ have their disadvantages as well as advantages. However, I agree with Carolyn that both methods should be employed. Nonviolence promotes love but at the same time, white supremacy sees nonviolence as another form of submission. Malcolm's tactics promote strength and are empowering, yet people still died. People lost their lives no matter what tactics they employed. Either way, both were forms of protest. America should not limit protest to just physical actions. There are other methods to prove a point. Change begins within the mind. Knowing this, anything is possible.

  3. I, too, agree that I would most likely use nonviolence in situations where needed, such as sit-ins or when alone in public. I, however, do not think I would be able to practice nonviolence when my family members and friends are being hurt. Violence seems to be a last resort to me. Many times in the Civil Rights Movement, I believe, last resort measures were called for.

  4. I agree that every action originates with an idea or a mentality. To have a nonviolent revolution can be just as effective as a militant one, even if it does not seem as direct. I would practice nonviolence, but I do not doubt for a second that if my family or even my personal well-being was jeopardized, I would do what I had to in order to defend myself and loved ones. I cannot deny my human instincts of survival. I think that looking at both the nonviolent and militant approaches to civil rights, one can find effective strategies in both, but the mentality that is going to be more effective in the long run is nonviolence action and protest. Violence can more easily lead to hate, and has the power to pit groups or races against each other. Nonviolence, on the other hand, has a more lasting impact in that it facilitates change as well as promotes a positive mentality about equality and race relations.

  5. I think Caroline brings up a good point. It is interesting to think that in exercising self-defense that we would be going by our instinct for survival. So is nonviolence denying your instincts? I suppose then it really shows a different level of self-defense if we are innately wired to defend ourselves in order to survive.