Comparing Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X

2885 words - 12 pages

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X had different methods and philosophies for trying to accomplish the very similar goal of civil rights for African Americans. Although Martin Luther King, Jr. had a philosophy of non-violence and racial integration and Malcolm X believed violence might be necessary and believed in racial separation, the two leaders had a lot in common: “Martin and Malcolm have become the two most recognizable African American icons of the twentieth century”(Carson 22). Both men had similar backgrounds. Their fathers were Baptist ministers and both became religious leaders. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Southern Baptist minister inspired by the Hindu leader Mohandas K. Ghandi, and Malcolm X was a minister in the Nation of Islam, inspired by the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. However, according to at 1965 article in Ebony magazine, “they followed different paths that brought them both into the international limelight, espousing radically different philosophies and yet, strangely, working toward the same end—the winning of the dignity of manhood for the black man in America” (Violence Versus Non-Violence). Both men received multiple threats to their lives during their work and both ended up being assassinated Malcolm X on February 21, 1965 and Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. According to Ebony, both men were highly educated and they spread their messages through the “white press,” which “maligned Malcolm and extolled King-seemingly without realizing how close were the goals of the two men” (Violence Versus Non-Violence). Though they had differing philosophies and methods, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X had the same goal: civil rights for African Americans: “When all barriers to voting are dropped, when jobs are available to men on merit, when good schooling is available to all and there is no legal discrimination in any state and men are completely free to come and go without regard to race, creed or color” (Violence Versus Non-Violence).
Martin Luther King, Jr. worked to achieve legal equality for African Americans, including the right to vote and equal treatment. This was his main goal. One way that he hoped to achieve job equality was through racial integration between African Americans and white Americans. He was a pastor in the Southern Baptist tradition at Dexter Avenue Baptists Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and was inspired toward a non-violent approach to social change by Jesus Christ and Mohandas K. Ghandi (About Dr. King). However, King was not always against violence and was not always pro-integration. According to James Cone in his essay "Martin And Malcolm On Nonviolence And Violence," King experienced white prejudice early in life living in Atlanta, Georgia and had a negative attitude toward white people. “He was determined to hate all whites,” and he slowly grew to change “through the influence of religion, education, and...

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