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Differences Between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

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Differences Between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

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  • May 2011
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During the 1960’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X represented two sides of the Civil Rights Movement. Speaking to all of humanity, Dr. King made these famous peaceful words, “I have a dream, a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” (King, 1963, para 10). Malcolm X spoke of a violent revolution by claiming, “If it’s necessary to form a Black Nationalist army, we’ll form a Black Nationalist army. It’ll be the ballot or the bullet. It’ll be liberty or it’ll be death” (Malcolm X, 1964, para. 55).

These two inspirational leaders were fighting for the same cause; equal rights for black Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X had very different beliefs and tangible differences in the actions of their followers in how to achieve equal rights for black Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King was fighting for a color-blind society where people would be judged and valued on their skills and characters rather than the color of their skin. Malcolm X, on the other hand, was fighting in favor of a separate black nation, instead of integration of all races. Dr. Martin Luther King preached non-violent means of expression and actions that he believed were the most effective method to achieve the goal of equality. Dr. King’s non-violent methods had the ability to not only influence people of color, but also people in positions of power, including President Kennedy. During the time that Dr. King fought for civil rights, the Civil Rights Act was passed; buses, schools, and lunch counters were desegregated (Moss and Thomas, p. 102-105). Dr. King’s efforts gave the Civil Rights Movement national and worldwide attention, lessening the segregation gap between people of color and white Americans. Dr. King was successful in using nonviolence as an effective tool to battle racial discrimination to achieve justice and...

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