Dr. later he would graduate from Boston University

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were
both powerful African Americans who left their mark on the United States. Though
their views on the issue of Civil Rights were the same in principal, their
diverse upbringings and methods that they handled the protest couldn’t be more

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia on
January 15,1929 to Martin Luther King Sr, 
a Baptist minister and Alberta Williams King. King entered Morehouse
college at the young age of 15 and was made a Baptist member at the age of 17.
King continued his studies at Crozer Theological
Seminary where he graduated as class president, three years later he would
graduate from Boston University to receive his Ph.D. While studying at Crozer
and Boston, King would be introduced to the works of the Indian nationalist
Mahatma Ghandi, whose ideas became central to his philosophy of nonviolent
protests. Malcolm Little was born on
May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His father Earl was a traveling Baptist
minister who made little money. When Malcolm was
six years old, his father was found dead on the side of streetcar tracks.
Although it was never proven, Malcolm and
his family believed that Earl’s enemies had murdered him. Malcolm was deeply affected
by the experience of losing his father to violence. Malcolm’s mother
struggled with poverty, raising her children alone. During this time, Malcolm’s behavior became a
problem and in 1938, he was removed from his mother’s care and placed in his
first foster home. Malcolm was
cared for by a series of white foster parents. Though they were kind to him,
they failed to nurture his intelligence, despite his obvious potential. His
teachers and others discouraged him from pursuing highly paid careers, so Malcolm quit school after the
eighth grade, as he was eager to please his foster parents and other white
authorities. In
1942, seventeen-year-old Malcolm went
to live with his half-sister in Boston, Massachusetts. He then secured a position as a dining car attendant on a train
and moved to Harlem, one of New York City’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods.
While in
Harlem, Malcolm sold
narcotics and worked in prostitution rings. He was known on the streets as
“Detroit Red.” “When Malcolm was
twenty years old, he was arrested and found guilty of armed robbery. He spent
eight years in prison. While in prison Malcolm came under the influence of
Black Muslims who taught him that whites were the devils that had robbed
African Americans of their true homeland, names, and religion. They told
Malcolm that his name “Little” had been given to his ancestors by their slave
masters. Under the guidance of the Muslims, Malcolm changes his name to “X”.” (Thomas
Landenberg, Martin Luther King & Malcolm X on Violence and Integration,
2016, 29-30)

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After the Supreme Court outlawed segregation of public schools in
1954, another event occurred that sparked Dr. King into action. In Montgomery,
the African American community was outraged when a woman on her way home from
work, Rosa Parks, was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white man.
Martin Luther King was chosen to lead the Montgomery Improvement Association,
the group aimed to end the racial segregation by boycotting the bus. While
boycotting, King was arrested and jailed, his home was bombed, and he received
numerous threats against his life. The boycott ended with King’s nonviolent
protests having a clear win with the Supreme Court outlawing all segregated
public transposition in the city and King emerged as a highly respected leader.
Another example of his success with nonviolent protesting occurred when he led
the historic March in Washington, August, 28 1963, where he delivered his
famous “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he asked for equal justice for all
citizens. In 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 1965 he spoke
with president Lyndon Johnson to discuss voting rights for African Americans.
The following August the Voting Act of 1965 was signed. Malcolm X was a
separatist who argued that African Americans will never achieve equality in a
society dominated by whites. As a result, he encouraged the blacks to “fight
back” in an armed revolution or at least to do so when he attacked. He wanted
the blacks to form a new society of their own kind rather than trying to
integrate within dominant white society. The issue with Malcolm X’s protests
was that his “by any means necessary” motive made people fear him instead of
showing the same respect they did for Dr. King.  By
the early 1960s, Malcolm X had emerged as a leading voice of a radicalized wing
of the Civil Rights Movement, presenting a philosophical alternative to Dr. King’s vision of
a racially-integrated society achieved by peaceful means. Dr. King was highly
critical of what he viewed as Malcolm X’s destructive demagoguery. “I feel
that Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice,” King
once said.