African Americans are fortunate to have leaders who fought for a difference in Black America. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X are two powerful men in particular who brought hope to blacks in the United States. Both preached the same message about Blacks having power and strength in the midst of all the hatred that surrounded them. Even though they shared the same dream of equality for their people, the tactics they implied to make these dreams a reality were very different. The background, environment and philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were largely responsible for the distinctly varying responses to American racism.
The early backgrounds of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. had major impact on their goal to achieve equality between all races. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born Michael Luther King in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. He was one of three children born to Martin Luther King Sr., pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Alberta King, a former schoolteacher. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker who stayed occupied with the family's eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. King attended segregated local public grammar schools in Georgia and graduated from high school at the age of fifteen after being skipped two grade levels. King then enrolled in Adams 2 Morehouse University in 1944 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology. He furthered his education after Morehouse at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania and at Boston University, earning his doctorate. X attended reform school in Michigan after the death of his father. Malcolm dropped out of school after graduating from junior high school at the top of his class.
As the years passed Malcolm and Martin took on two different lifestyles. Martin then married Coretta Scott in 1955 and into the family born two sons and two daughters. Malcolm married on January 14, 1958 to Betty Sanders and later had six daughters. King was renamed "Martin" when he was about six years old. Malcolm considered "Little" a slave name and chose the "X" to signify his lost tribal name (Rummel 157). In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted pastoral of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Malcolm X spent his time as an Islamic minister. Death came for King on the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated (Kete 99). After, death threats and his home being firebombed, X was shot and killed at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965, while preparing to speak. Malcolm X's despair about life was reflected in his angry, pessimistic belief that equality is impossible because Whites have no moral conscience. This bitterness and hatred toward Whites partially came from Malcolm's belief that his father was killed by the Klu Klux Klan. Martin Luther King's close family oriented background influenced his goal for a united nation. It is evident that
Adams 3 the backgrounds of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had great influence on how they delivered their message of equality.
Their unique styles were influenced by the different environments they both grew up in. King was raised in a comfortable middle-class family where education was stressed and dreams and love were generated. Martin was very intelligent in grade school and took his education and soared until he...