Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are very prominent African American individuals throughout history. They fought for what they stood for but in many different ways. As we all know in history there are no two great men that are alike. Their many beliefs may have blossomed from the households they came from and how they grew up. King grew up in a middle class family and was well educated. While, Malcolm X grew up in an underprivileged environment that was very hostile with barely any schooling. Martin Luther King Jr. was always against violence, throughout his entire ministry. He always stood his ground, and he stood out because even
though he may have been physically attacked, he never reacted with violence. Martin Luther King Jr. followed the Christian faith. Malcolm X was a Muslim, and believed in Muslim principles. His most famous line was “By any Means Necessary”. He believed in fighting back physically. Whatever had to be done to get freedom he was all for it whether it be violence or nonviolence. Although later in life he visited Jerusalem, and met other Muslims. He changed his views, and became nonviolent.
One of the most famous civil rights acts was the March on Washington, which portrays the different perspectives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The March on Washington took place on August 28, 1963. Over 20,000 people came to march from Washington to the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C. This march happened to be one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatest accomplishments throughout his life. Th
is event is where he took the crown for the face of the civil rights movement. Even in a time of violence, King would never act out. King wanted all the races to come together for the hatred and
violence to be put to a halt. Malcolm X had a different perspective regarding the march. He felt that integration would destroy the black and the white man. He felt that American blacks should be more concerned with helping each other. He felt blacks should start by giving the same race self-respect first. He did not agree with what King had to say, he felt that kings dream was not a dream but a nightmare.
MLK’s approach to civil rights/equality was non-violent protesting, speaking out for non-violence, passive resistance, and what he called, “weapons of love”. However, Malcolm X’s approach to civil rights/equality was extremely different. He was suspicious of whites, willing to use “by any means necessary” to achieve equality. He was a segregationist until he went to Mecca. The commonality that they both share is that they both wanted equal rights for African Americans they just went down different paths to receive those rights.
In my opinion I feel that MLK was a better more prominent advocate for the Civil Rights Movement. I feel this way because he was a peaceful leader, he was always for a non-violence approach with handling things, and he wanted everyone, all races to come together and form equality. If society followed through with Malcolm X’s approach for segregation and for races to be separated the world would honestly be a hell ho
le. Because of MLK’s peaceful approach he is well respected all over the world by many races and on top of that he has his own holiday. If it weren’t for him, I would not be where I am at now.
Comparing Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X
While Martin Luther King’s peaceful protests against narrow minded white supremacists helped him rise to national fame, Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, lectured the United States about Islam and urged others to dismiss all whites as their enemies and arm themselves for war. Each discussed the same issues, but their methods of achievement and ideas about equal opportunity differed as much as night and day. Although both greatly influential civil rights activists, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. had some very significant differences in their backgrounds and methods of delivery in their messages of equality.
The differences in their early life experiences and family years are largely to blame for their very dissimilar reactions to the racism in the United States. Raised in a middle class, comfortable, home and, as his Nobel Prize biography states, the second of three children, King dwelled in an education-stressed environment. Martin Luther graduated high school at 15 as valedictorian, then attended college and received a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He promptly went back to school and received a Doctorate of Ph. D as well. After all this education, at age 24, King moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to become a Pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church (“Nobel Peace Prize”). Conversely, Malcolm X was born into a very poor and deprived home, which is affirmed by his official website. Malcolm had nine brothers and sisters, three brothers having died violently at the hands of white men. The Ku Klux Klan lynched Malcolm’s uncle and killed his father before he was six years old. Soon after these family member deaths, Malcolm’s mother had a nervous breakdown and was sent to a mental institution. Malcolm X then spent the rest of his childhood in foster care. He was a very dedicated, intelligent young man with an “A” average until a middle school teacher ruined his dreams of becoming a lawyer. “No such thing as a (Black) lawyer,” he told Malcolm. Crushed and defeated, he dropped out of school and became involved with the ‘wrong sort of crowd,’ stealing and doing drugs. He was arrested and sentenced to prison. During his seven-year incarceration, Malcolm self-educated and converted to Islam. He joined the religious organization Nation of Islam, led by Elijah Muhammad. By the time he was paroled, Malcolm was a dedicated follower and had legally changed his surname from “Little” to “X,” because he considered “Little” a ‘slave’ name (“About Malcolm X”). The changing of his name marked the beginning of a new era.
This era was the time when both X and King would begin to express their opinions on race and equality. Georgetown University’s Keith Miller asserts that Elijah Muhammad, the man to whom X was devoted, taught that the Caucasian society actively worked to keep African-Americans from gaining power and respect and achieving political, economic and social success (“Malcolm X”). These teachings, asserts Malcolm’s official website, combined with how haunted he was by his childhood explain how the message he preached came to be. Malcolm’s idea of true equality was rebellious, negative and angry. He embraced separatist philosophies and felt that non-violence and integration were tricks that white people promoted to keep blacks in their place (“About Malcolm X”). Martin Luther King’s philosophies couldn’t have been more different, according to Long Island University’s Melvin Sylvester. He believed that through hard work, strong leadership and non-violence, blacks could achieve full equality with whites (“Tribute”). King urged all members of the black community to earn their rightful place as equals with self-respect and high moral standards, which he communicated through his world-renowned speeches.
Both Malcolm X and King spread their views through assertive, hard-hitting, powerful speeches. Nevertheless, their intentions were delivered in different styles and purposes. As an inspirational speaker, King traveled the country, giving speeches that motivated both blacks and whites to live in racial harmony, confirms Jack White of Time. He always appeared positive, rational, and idealistic while preaching his integrational views. All of these qualities are evident in King’s most quoted line —"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" (“Time 100”). Malcolm X, however, was known as an extremist, which is verified by the Stanford Encyclopedia. For much of the time that he spent as an Islamic minister, he lectured about separatism between blacks and whites. He also preached about Black Nationalism and even "black supremacy." Malcolm X's speeches were delivered in a revolutionary and arousing tone which could incite his listeners to hate white America. His pessimism and forcefulness show through in this quote, from Malcolm X Speaks, “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it” (“Malcolm X”). As different as these styles seem, there was one similarity. Together, King and Malcolm X promoted respect for one's history and knowledge about one’s culture as the foundation for unity.
Though different in their speaking styles and definition of equality, one cannot deny that both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were two of the most influential and powerful civil rights activists of the 20th century. They are remembered as martyrs who fought for the cause of Black America, and who gave hope to their people in times of desperate struggle. They are remembered as men who tried to instill strength and power to their people so that they could overcome all the hatred that surrounded them. Finally, they are remembered as individuals who were ahead of their time and who died prematurely, working for a goal yet to be achieved: equality and justice among all races.
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