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AFRICAN AMERICANS who became famous for their confrontational style of leadership during the days of slavery and Jim Crow racism were generally called black nationalists. The term is nebulously defined, and it is used loosely to describe any African American who strives for something other than integration and equal rights within the traditional white society and political system. Black nationalism is often considered a conservative ideology, but it would be more accurately described as a type of counterconservativism.

Historically, black nationalists have refused to compromise with whites on political issues. During the era of slavery, they rejected gradual abolition, and thereafter rejected limited civil rights and slow, steady improvement, in favor of immediate and dramatic change. Their demands were often viewed by the mainstream as revolutionary, ...

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