Africans were brought to America by Europeans, not of their own volition, but in chains, without the knowledge that over the next several hundred years, generations and generations of our people would be brutally and unjustly treated as nothing more than property or animals. The era during which slavery flourished, Africans were bred, overworked, beaten, lynched, and stripped of any positive identity or self respect. When slavery was abolished in 1865, Africans, or former slaves, were left without a "place" in America. Where did they fit in? What was the role that they were to play as, so called, American citizens? Some, undertook the role of "leader", and preached and taught what they felt was the best process by which, blacks could achieve equality. From the beginning, however, there were conflicts concerning the nature of how this was to be accomplished. This discrepancy over passive and aggressive attitude concerning the advancement of blacks in America has permeated, and at times, divided the black community from the time that Africans were brought here in chains, until the present. Malcolm X's philosophies, which centered more on blacks accepting themselves, and loving themselves, and creating their own sense of pride, was deemed racist by the media and he was portrayed as militant/violent by the Civil Rights Activists, when in fact Malcolm X's teachings contain the exact remedy that we "victims of America" (Malcolm X uses this term to distinguish the fact that blacks were not brought to America out of their own volition) need in order to live the best lives in the conditions that we have been forced into by whites.
Booker T. Washington, born in 1856, was a prominent leader of the black community during the years following the abolishment of slavery, who believed that equality and respect for blacks would be gained over time. Washington preached to his followers that they should work on bettering themselves, not through liberal education, but by learning a trade or vocation which could be of service to either the black or white community, and that in time, whites would allow blacks to assimilate into their society. William Edward Burghardt Dubois, born in 1868 and more commonly known as W. E. B Dubois, was Washington's adversary. Dubois preached that blacks should demand their rights, both human and civil, and that this was the only way that whites, who ultimately controlled the society, would grant blacks any civil liberties at all. Dubois also preached that blacks should not depend upon whites for anything. During the Civil Rights/Black Power movement in the 50', 60's, and 70's, two essential leaders emerged, and undertook the roles as leaders of the non-violent/passive and armed/aggressive movement that would ultimately give Blacks their "freedom". Martin Luther King and Malcolm X aimed toward a similar goal for blacks. Both wanted it to be realized by blacks and whites than blacks were not inferior to whites in any way. King and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (The name Malcolm adopted after his visit to Mecca) respectively employed non-violent and aggressive (which is often times termed as violent) methods to achieve the common goal. King is associated with the Civil Rights, non-violent, passive leader in the struggle. Malcolm X is linked to the Black Power, armed, "By any means necessary" aggressive solution to the race/class problem, which gave black a sense of self worth and empowerment, which would be lost if complete integration was achieved.
Dr. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 into a middle-class family. His father was a well respected minister and businessman in the Atlanta, GA area. King was blessed with a life unlike the common black family in that time period, though that does not mean that he did not sympathize with the poverty stricken majority. King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, and subsequently Crozer Theological Seminary, located in Chester, PA. Martin Luther King was...
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