MLK Vs. Malcolm X

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In the year of 1957, nine brave young african african american students enrolled in an all white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. One may wonder what is so courageous about this, because it is just a high school, but this was law. During this time of injustice, two brave leaders by the names of Martin Luther King Jr.

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and Malcolm X stood out. They both eventually wanted equal rights for blacks, however they had separate ideas on how to get there. Had the ideas of both King and Malcolm X been mixed in some way, the Civil RIghts Movement would have been more successful because each of them had great insights on different topics. Malcolm X’s thoughts and philosophy made sense because blacks had to lead a more independent lifestyle. However King’s ideas on schooling were vital to achieving this equality because people learn to coexist at a young age.

To begin with, King’s ideas about having integrated black and white schools made more sense than separate schools because white schools already had plenty of resources in their possession, and black schools had inadequate funding.

In a writing by The Basic Unity Program, Malcolm X’s program, he goes on to explain his ideas about separate schooling. He stated We encourage Afro-Americans themselves to establish experimental institutes and educational workshops, liberation schools and child-care centers in Afro-American communities(Doc E).

This idea of independence is a good one, however it is far oversimplified. In order to open a school money is needed to buy property, build the school, and get supplies. On top of that, employees and teachers are very necessary. None of this is impossible, but it is very difficult to accomplish, and makes this idea less convenient.

Next, in a speech by King titled Our God is Marching On, King stated Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregation and inferior education becomes a thing of the past and Negroes and whites study side by side in the socially healing context of the classroom(Doc D). 

King explained that side by side, eventually blacks and whites would forget their differences and learn to work together. Lastly, in a speech made by King titled The Purpose of Education, King explained the purpose and benefits of school. Towards the end when he summed it up by saying, The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living (The Purpose of Education). Here, King explained that integrated schooling not only gives the knowledge to all, but also that people will learn to work with somebody who may seem different than them. Overall, Martin Luther King had the better idea about education because he wanted blacks and whites in the same schools.

If this happened, blacks and whites would forget their differences and have no choice but to accept each other. Malcolm X’s idea was fairly good, but the execution of it was far too difficult, and King was bringing the blacks to where the resources already were.

Secondly, Malcolm X had the better ideas on working together or separately in order to achieve civil rights because the dependance on whites hadn’t worked in years, and it was a great time for blacks to start working on their own. In King’s famous I have a Dream speech, King explained his own dreams for the nation. He said, With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day(Doc B).

While this idea on togetherness seems like it can please everyone, it cannot. 

Blacks had been trying to cooperate with whites for years prior to this, and all they received back was hate and disrespect. If blacks had been successful in getting these jobs then it would not have even been a topic. That is not the case though, and that’s why Malcolm X made more sense in this way. In Malcolm X’s autobiography, he stated We will meanwhile be working among our own kind, in our own black communities – showing and teaching black men in ways that only other black men can – that the black man has got to help himself. Working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people actually will be working together(Doc C). 

Malcolm basically stated that instead of trying to go get a job or work with the white folks, go get a job in your own black communities, and in that way whites and blacks would actually be working together.

Finally, in an audio excerpt from Malcolm X, he explained the difference between separation and segregation. He stated In the white community, the white man controls the economy, his own economy, his own politics, his own everything.

That’s his community. But at the same time while the Negro lives in a separate community, it’s a segregated community. Which means it’s regulated from the outside by outsiders. The white man has all of the businesses in the Negro community.

He runs the politics of the Negro community. He controls all the civic organizations in the Negro community. This is a segregated community(The Race Problem). Malcolm X simply said that whites controlled their own communities as well the blacks, and this is why blacks need to move onto their own businesses in their own workplaces. All in all, Martin Luther King’s idea on equality in the workplace had failed over and over in the past, and Malcolm X’s theory would have been quicker and better for blacks in the long run.

Finally, even though King’s peaceful protest seemed to be the simple and safe choice to make, Malcolm X’s strong belief in not backing down from racial threats and doing it yourself made more sense because people’s lives were put to harm far too often.

Whether it was from not having a fair wage to provide for your family, or being threatened by whites, blacks had to be more independent. To begin with, Martin Luther King’s philosophy of peaceful protest seemed to be the best and most popular option, but even though it worked in the past in other countries, blacks had no time to waste. 

In a book titled Stride Toward Freedom, written by Martin Luther King Jr., he gave his philosophy on the civil rights movement. He said Bomb our homes and threaten our children; send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities and drag us out on some wayside road, beating us and leaving us half dead, and we will still love you(Doc H). King simply said that no matter what happened to the blacks and their families, they will still love the whites.

In an interview in The Young Socialist in which Malcolm gave his views on peace, he stated, The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people. I’ve never heard anybody go to the Klu Klux Klan and teach them nonviolence?? Nonviolence is only preached to black Americans and I don’t go along with anyone who wants to teach our people nonviolence until someone at the same time is teaching our enemy to be nonviolent(Doc K). Malcolm simply said that blacks shouldn’t have to stand down if whites do not have to either. 

Lastly, in the year 1963, Malcolm X gave an extremely powerful speech at a rally in Detroit. In this speech Message to the Grassroots, Malcolm mentioned his thoughts on peace and fighting back. He stated It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth.

You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you.

So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ‘Cause someone has taught you to suffer — peacefully (Message to the Grassroots). Malcolm basically said that blacks learned to suffer and doing nothing about it, because they don’t know any different.

This is all extremely important because it shows how Malcolm’s ideas wanted blacks to stand up against racial threats and attitudes. King said that no matter what harm whites will do, they will still love them. This is very peaceful and requires courage, but it put people’s lives in danger and gave the impression that blacks were ok with that. Meanwhile Malcolm never threatened anyone, instead he decided not to just accept the threats.

In conclusion, if it were not for Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, the United States would not look like it does today.

They did so much inspiring and lecturing, that will be left in the minds of the people for generations to come. However, there is still some unfinished business left in the country. Blacks still deal with discrimination and racism throughout our country, but it is on a much smaller scale than it used to be. This would likely make King and Malcolm X proud, but not satisfied.

If either were alive, it is likely they’d continue to spread their ideas and fight for equal rights and treatment for all.

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MLK vs. Malcolm X. (2019, Mar 25). Retrieved March 24, 2023 , from

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