Comparison on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.: Who Had More Influence over the Civil Rights Movement

Topics: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Black people, Nonviolence Pages: 4 (1233 words) Published: March 24, 2007
Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, many leaders emerged that captured the attention of the American public. During this period, the leaders' used different tactics in order to achieve change. Of two of the better-known leaders, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., the latter had a more positive influence in the progress of the movement.

Each of these two leaders had different views on how to go about gaining freedom. While King believed a peaceful means would allow the blacks to achieve equality with the white Americans, Malcolm X took a more pessimistic approach. He believed achieving equality was nearly impossible and preached a more separatist doctrine. The men's later beliefs were formed in their youth.

King was raised in a middle-class home where his parents knew the value of a good education. The environment was one filled with dreams, love and strong values where he could grow and mature with confidence. On the contrary, X's childhood was not as pleasant. Coming from an underprivileged home, he had little schooling and instead turned to drugs. The abuse he saw from his father, who was later murdered at the hands of a white man, and the abuse he suffered, under his mother would be crucial in his later actions. One of Malcolm X's first vivid memories was of when his home was being burned by the Ku Klux Klan. These circumstances at home would lead to the anger and hate mustering in Malcolm that would be expressed later in his life.

These differences in the upbringing are largely responsible for the separate approaches in how they responded to the issue of racism. Martin Luther King was to many calm and idealistic. Non-violence and encouragement was key in his philosophy of integration. "King urged blacks to win their rightful place in society by gaining self-respect, high moral standards, hard work and leadership. He also urged blacks to do this in a non-violent way." Christianity, community and the radical pacifist views of Mahatma Gandhi...
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