How Important Was Martin Luther King Compared to Malcolm X?

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How important was Martin Luther King compared to Malcolm X?

During the 1920’s/1930’s, black Americans faced a huge amount of discrimination from the whites and found if very difficult to achieve civil rights. They were at one stage deprived of the right to vote, not being entitled to the same things as whites, and not going to the same schools as whites. In order for blacks to achieve civil rights they needed someone to follow, they needed a leader. Many black leaders did emerge for the fight of civil rights. Two of the most powerful influential leaders of the twentieth century were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. These two leaders had different methods and strategies, and very different views towards white people, but fought for the same thing.

Martin Luther King was a pacifist, as he strongly disagreed in the use of any violence. This is made clear in source four, which is an example of what King achieved, in a peaceful protest. This source is from the civil rights movement, and it is about the incident of Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks was travelling on a local bus when a white woman asked her to give up her seat, and she refused, this is because she was ‘tired of giving in’ to racism. She was then arrested later that day. Martin Luther King then decided to lead a boycott of buses, which is when King first step into leading a civil rights movement, raising his profile as a leader, and his importance into the civil rights movement.

Malcolm X believed in violence, and criticized King’s beliefs and methods. This is because he felt that King wasn’t doing enough for the black community, and that violence would make it happen faster. In source 14, Malcolm X gives his opinions on violence and non violence, ‘You haven’t got a revelation that doesn’t involve bloodshed. And you’re afraid to bleed. I said, you’re afraid to bleed.’ It could be argued that Malcolm feels that most black people are cowardly and are failing to stand up for themselves. He also believes that violence solves things, which means he wants the blacks to intensify their actions. This is when Malcolm first became a symbol to black people, and became important in the civil rights movement; because he struck a chord among many young who felt they were being treated unjustly by the whites.

Martin Luther King used peaceful protests and methods to publicise his views. An example of the peaceful protest was in Washington in March, 1963, when he delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech which is shown in source 5. This emphasised his importance to the civil rights movement, as it is a well known speech which is still revered today, which emphasises Kings importance to the civil rights movement. A reason for it being well knows is because it was televised, and was broadcast to the whole of America, which means a lot more people heard it as it was more publicised. ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ This tells us that King was really pushing equality into the minds of white families. It could be argued that the whites in America were not ready for this huge change in their society, and it questioned the white people of America’s readiness to accept change.

Malcolm X used very different methods to King, and often criticized the way he did things. Malcolm believed that they wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything without the use of violence, this is shown in source 13 when Malcolm says, ‘I am for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American black man’s problems. If we must use violence to get the black man his human rights in this country, then I am all for violence.’ This indicates that Malcolm X’s method included violence, but this is only because he felt he needed to use it to gain his own human rights, which blacks were lacking terribly. It could be argued that white people were scared...
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