In the post-war era 1945-1968, African Americans in the U.S were determined to claim their position in society by fighting discrimination and racism practices in America. Therefore, the black community initiated the civil rights movement that saw the rise of vocal black leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. These two were in the front position to address injustices directed towards the African American people in the United States. The main issues discussed in the civil movement included oppression, inequality, police brutality, racism, segregation, etc. Even though these two leaders addressed the same thing, they used different approaches. While Malcolm X employed violent approaches, Martin Luther King Jr used nonviolent approaches to represent blacks’ concerns. This paper discusses the different approaches employed by Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr in the fight for civil rights.
Malcolm X showcased his charismatic personality and organizing and oratory skills to express the anger, discontent, and bitterness of African Americans in the U.S (Maminya, 2020). Malcolm X’s passionate militancy and powerful intelligence made him an intimidating challenger of the white society. He mobilized the blacks to fight for human rights and their independence by using any approach to guarantee their freedom from whites’ bondage, including violence. Martin Luther King’s approach to fighting for civil rights was different from that of Malcolm X (Mamiya, 2020). Martin Luther King believed in using a nonviolent system whereby the whites and the blacks would sit together and agree regarding how African Americans were treated. Some of the nonviolent strategies used by Luther King included protests, marches, and boycotts, which were peaceful and which seemed effective compared to those strategies employed by Malcolm X (Simkins, 2014). Luther King’s goal was to ensure that the black people in the U.S would gain independence without the need for bloodshed. He considered Malcolm X’s approaches as outdated and would only bring more problems to the already oppressed black population.
Malcolm criticized the conservative civil rights movement, steered by Martin Luther King Jr.’s primary ideologies of integration and non-violence. Malcolm considered King’s conventional approach weak and passive in dealing with cruel whites who persistently tortured the African American community (Sanford University, 2020). Malcolm X held that it was riskier for civil rights advocates to sit and reason with the despots, especially regarding blacks’ oppression, including integrity, independence, and identity. He advised his supporters to be ready to do anything to fight for their position in American society (Simkins, 2014). Luther King also condemned Malcolm X’s approaches and wanted civil rights issues to be resolved using the appropriate peaceful channels where both parties would emerge as winners.
Even though the two leaders disagreed on their ideologies in fighting for civil rights, they were all fighting for the same course. They both aimed to create a better American society where African Americans would be free and be treated equally as their white counterparts. The two leaders wanted a community free of racism oppression, which guaranteed equality across all dimensions of life. Black people had suffered for many years (Sanford University, 2020). Therefore, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr felt this was a moment where the American government was responsible for guaranteeing the protection of this minority population. Ultimately, their efforts were successful since they resulted in the implementation of legislation that gave more freedom to black people.
The readings about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr made me understand their approaches and the reasons behind their ideologies in fighting for civil rights. The task has allowed me to understand better the post-war activities, which drove the need to fight for equality and freedom. These activities laid the foundation for social, political, and economic equality for all populations in the United States. Today, freedom in the U.S is attributed to the two leaders’ actions. In tackling a national or global issue, the reading would guide me on the appropriate strategies to address the problems at hand. Therefore, I would know what to take and avoid to ensure effective results. By weighing on the two approaches addressed above, I would go for the nonviolent strategy adopted by Luther King, which promotes discussion among conflicting parties to arrive at a consensus.
Mamiya, L. A. (2020, October 22). Malcolm X. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Malcolm-X
Simkins, C. (2014, January 20). Non-violence was key to the civil rights movement. VOA. https://www.voanews.com/a/nonviolencekey-to-civil-rights-movement/1737280.html
Sanford University. (2020, August 4). Malcolm X. The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/malcolm-x