5.07 Leaders of the Civil Rights Movement
The tone of Malcolm X is very frank. He does not go for the uplifting approach that many people identify with Dr. King. In “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech, he says that “Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American.” What he is relaying to the listener's is most likely harsh for them to hear but he believes that they need to hear it nonetheless. Dr. King's tone in his speeches is much more forgiving and uplifting. He begins a speech with: “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.” He knows the hopes and dreams of his followers and he lets them know that he shares these hopes. Listening to one of his speeches, you feel filled with a sense of purpose and positive ideas as to how you are going to achieve these goals. That is what sets him apart from Malcolm X. They want a similar result but with very different ways of getting to it.
Dr. King and Malcolm X each suggest radically different approaches to attaining freedom and equality for African-Americans in American society. Dr. King's approach was against violence by all means. He stated that “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.” Dr. King was a firm believer in the power of unconditional love. He did not want to stoop to the level of the racists to attain equality. Malcolm X, on the other hand, believed that it was...
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