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Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X grew up in different environments. King was raised in a comfortable middle-class family where education was stressed. On the other hand, Malcolm X came from and underprivileged home. He was a self-taught man who received little schooling and rose to greatness on his own intelligence and determination. Martin Luther King was born into a family whose name in Atlanta was well established. Despite segregation, Martin Luther King?s parents ensured that their child was secure and happy.
Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 and was raised in a completely different atmosphere than King, an atmosphere of fear and anger where the seeds of bitterness were planted. The burning of his house by the Klu Klux Klan resulted in the murder of his father. His mother later suffered a nervous breakdown and his family split up. He was haunted by this early nightmare for most of his life. From then on, he was driven by hatred and a desire for revenge.
The early backgrounds of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were largely responsible for the distinct different responses to American racism. Both men ultimately became towering icons of contemporary African-American culture and had a great influence on black Americans. However, King had a more positive attitude than Malcolm X, believing that through peaceful demonstrations and arguments, blacks will be able to someday achieve full equality with whites. Malcolm X?s despair about life was reflected in his angry, pessimistic belief that equality is impossible because whites have no moral conscience. King basically adopted on an equality philosophy, whereby he felt that blacks and whites should be united and live together in peace. Malcolm X, however, promoted nationalist and separatist doctrines. For most of his life, he believed that only through revolution and force could blacks attain their rightful place in society.
Both X and King spread their message through powerful, hard-hitting speeches. Nevertheless, their intentions were delivered in different styles and purposes.
"King was basically a peaceful leader who urged non-violence to his followers. He travelled about the country giving speeches that inspired black and white listeners to work together for racial harmony." (pg. 135, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Movement)
Malcolm X, for the most part, believed that non-violence and integration was a trick by the whites to keep blacks in their places. He was furious at white racism and encouraged his followers through his speeches to rise up and protest against their white enemies. After Malcolm X broke away from Elijah Mohammed, this change is reflected in his more moderate speeches.
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King?s childhoods had powerful influences on the men and their speeches. Malcolm X was brought up in an atmosphere of violence. During his childhood, Malcolm X suffered not only from abuse by whites, but also from domestic violence. His father beat his mother and both of them abused their children. His mother was forced to raise eight children during the depression. After his mother had a mental breakdown, the children were all placed in foster homes. Malcolm X?s resentment was increased as he suffered through the ravages of integrated schooling. Although an intelligent student who shared the dream of being a lawyer with Martin Luther King, Malcolm X?s anger and disillusionment caused him to drop out of school. He started to use cocaine and set up a burglary ring to support his expensive habit. Malcolm X?s hostility and promotion of violence as a way of getting change was well established in his childhood.
Martin Luther King lived in an entirely different environment. He was a smart student and skipped two grades before entering an ivy league college at only the age of 15. He was the class valedictorian with an A average. King paraded his graduation present in a new green Chevrolet before his fellow graduates. He was raised in the perfect environment where dreams and love were generated. King and X?s childhoods are "a study in polarity." (pg. 254, Reflecting Black)
Whereas, Malcolm X was raised in nightmarish conditions. King?s home was almost dream-like. He was raised in a comfortable middle-class home where strong values natured his sense of self-worth.
Sure, many have admired Malcolm X and Martin Luther King for the way that they preached. "Both King and Malcolm X promoted self-knowledge and respect for one?s
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Community organizing, Black Power, African-American Muslims, Counterculture of the 1960s, Malcolm X, Racism in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr., Black nationalism, Seven Songs for Malcolm X, African-American Civil Rights Movement, klu klux klan, martin luther kings, african american culture, american racism, moral conscience, peaceful demonstrations, martin luther king jr, martin luther king, positive attitude, malcolm x, blacks and whites, black americans, nervous breakdown, split up, bitterness, doctrines, segregation, greatness, middle class family, xs
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