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Comparing Civil Rights Leaders – Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Assignment

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were persons who changed black history forever. Their courage and love for their people transcended and surpassed their only boundary: America. Each one of them did what was possible for them at the time. However, what they achieved, how they achieved it, and their ideologies were different in each leader. Malcolm X was born in a Baptist family in Nebraska in May 19, 1925. Since little, he always saw violence in the streets as an atmosphere in which everyone fought and tricked just to survive.

He was born into a Baptist (father), and Seventh Day Adventist (mother) environment. Malcolm X was influenced by his father who was a nationalist and a follower of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA. After getting out of jail he was convinced that there was a “white devil” roaming everywhere. In contrast to Malcolm X’s childhood, Martin was born and raised in a middle-class family, in which his family provided their children with “a very congenial home,” including “the basic necessities of life,” and important role-models of the race for them to follow.

His father was a Baptist, and also believed deeply in integrationism. Martin went to a prestigious college and learned from working with white classmates, that blacks and whites can live together peacefully with the right medium. Martin was certain that non-violence was the best weapon to achieve integrationism in America, because he believed that we were all created under one God, and we all had love inside us, and non-violence is a way to make the white reflect on what they are doing.

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He also taught that integration would be making race irrelevant. In the contrary, Malcolm X believed that the Negro should stand up for themselves, for all of the years of slavery that still exist in this modern form of slavery, “by any means necessary” including violence. He believed that non-violence only encouraged whites to commit criminal acts against blacks without fear of retaliation: “Power should be confronted with power”. That’s why he called it a “criminal philosophy”, and those who follow it “subhuman”.

Martin was well educated, culturally defined, and politically aware, and it was easy for him to think that every Negro who could achieve the “American dream” could integrate into the white-controlled society, whereas Malcolm X told masses of people that the high ranking blacks were just “puppets” to the white. He compared them to the “yard Negro”. He believed that Negroes needed to return to Africa, because simply white people and Negroes can’t coexist together. But needed to “be prepared” to be among their own folks in a different state, or back in Africa.

The press considered him crazy, racist, demagogue, anti-Semitic, etc. Malcolm X said, “the truth has to be heard”. The media accepted Martin’s teachings because “it is consistent with the stereotype of the Negro as a meek, long-suffering creature who prays for deliverance but who rarely acts decisively against injustices”. For Malcolm and Martin, for America and the world, and for all who have given their lives in the struggle for justice, let us direct our fight toward one goal… the beloved community of humankind.

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