Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were two of the most prominent leaders and orators at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement. Although both leaders possessed the same objectives, their outlooks and perspectives differed immensely.
The main primary difference focused on their willingness to employ violence to achieve their end goals. While Dr. King suggests a civil disobedient approach in “Give Us The Ballot” and “Pilgrimage to Non Violence,” Malcolm X believed otherwise, expressing his belief that the black community needed to rise up and organize. Malcolm X articulated his view on the necessary use of violence and retaliation in “The Ballot or the Bullet”. Despite the striking differences of methods between the two civil rights leaders, there were a few similarities between these two leaders. They both believed that blacks suffered from great injustice and prejudice. King felt that all people were affected by the existing injustices that the few were suffering. Malcolm X preferred a more confrontational method of action, but also recognized the fact that blacks had been oppressed for too long. The goals of both men originated from their common racial heritage and history. To raise the issue of social injustice for the world to see and from there force changes was the intent of both men. Malcolm X and Dr. King also shared the
Cited: Martin Luther King, Jr., “Give Us the Ballot—We Will Transform the South” (1957), from A Testament of Hope, Ed. James Melvin Washington, San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1986 Martin Luther King, Jr., “Pilgrimage to Non Violence” (1958), from The Sixties Papers: Documents of a Rebellious Decade, Judith Clavir Albert and Stewart Edward Albert, eds., New York: Prager, 1984 Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet” (speech from April 3rd, 1964), from Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements, Ed. George Breitman, New York: Pathfinder, 1990