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MALCOLM X INFLUENCED MANY of the leaders who sought to give guidance to the grassroots militancy of the black power era However his intellectual legacy did not bridge the divide between black leaders and mobilized black masses Despite his rhetorical support for black militancy Malcolm himself did not lead a protest or insurgent movement Indeed Malcolms principal contribution to the black nationalist tradition was to link that tradition with the mass movements of his time As Malcolm observed the intensifying civil rights demonstrations of 1963 and 1964 he moved from harsh criticisms of nonviolence and integrationism to a more subtle critique that distinguished between national and grassroots civil rights leaders Although Malcolm continued to challenge King and other established civil rights leaders he also became increasingly critical of the Nation of Islams apolitical orientation I felt that wherever black people committed themselves in the Little Rocks and the Birminghams and other places militantly disciplined Muslims should also be there for all the world to see and respect and discuss It could be heard increasingly in the Negro communities Those Muslims talk tough but they never do anything unless somebody bothers Muslims7 By the time of the March on Washington Malcolm combined attacks on national black leaders - they control you but they have never incited you or excited you - with generous praise for local leaders who had begun to stir up our people at the grass-roots level8After leaving the Nation of Islam Malcolm formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity OAAU and began reaching out to militant grassroots leaders In October 1964 while on a tour of Africa he met with SNCC representatives convincing them to cooperate with his newly- establish group In December he hosted Fannie Lou Hamer and other MFDP leaders at a Harlem OAAU meeting and also met with a delegation of teenagers from the McComb Mississippi movement During February 1965 he traveled to Selma Alabama to address young voting rights activists
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