Martin Luther King Junior and Malcolm X were key figures who went down in history of the United States due to their unprecedented efforts in fighting for civil rights and elimination of racism in America. Each of them had a different method and view of struggling against the social injustices against the blacks. Martin Luther King was a Christian, while Malcolm X was a Muslim, that is why their views were based on their religious backgrounds, and the way they had been brought up by their parents.
Martin Luther King originated from a bourgeois class family, thus he was an educated person, while Malcolm X had been brought up from a humble background, which made him drop out of school and engage in drugs. Martin Luther King Jr. had a peaceful approach towards fighting against social injustices as he believed that they could be eradicated through a dialogue. On the contrary, Malcolm X had a different view, which could be traced back to his upbringing.
He acquired a bitter attitude towards the whites who he believed were the source of his problems. While Martin Luther King insisted on nonviolent resistance or integrationist philosophy, Malcolm X had a strong believe in nationalist and separatist doctrines. Their philosophies resulted in forming contrasting views in the people’s minds in terms of sensibility. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of nonviolence appealed to Americans of the 1960’s the most.
Martin Luther King’s philosophy of handling the social injustices was aimed at bringing together blacks and whites as a union. This doctrine had six underlying principles, which guided it. One of them stated that nonviolent protestors should not discredit the opponents but instead look for their understanding and friendship.
He had a strong believe that the only way to overcome a devil was by befriending him. Fighting, according to his view, could not solve the problem but would intensify hatred between the two parties. Violence might murder the murderer, but it would not murder the murder itself; it could kill the liar, but it would not eliminate lie, and violence may murder the dishonest person, but not dishonesty (King, “I Have a Dream Speech”).
Violence will never be a way out as it will only intensify the problem. Malcolm X believed in the doctrine of separation as a solution to social injustices. In his speech, he said that by working separately, the sincere white people and sincere black people would actually be working together. He proclaimed, “Let the sincere whites go and teach nonviolence to white people” (Malcolm X “The Homecoming Rally of the OAAU”).
He further put more emphasis on the doctrine of separation by saying that when money was taken out of the neighborhood in which one lived, the neighborhood in which a person invested his/her money became wealthier and wealthier (Malcolm X “The Homecoming Rally of the OAAU”).
Therefore, in order for the blacks to control their economy, money should be spent within the neighborhood. Furthermore, according to Malcolm X, dialogue was not the solution to the injustices because the enemy would not hear what you were saying.
He said that, ‘You know you can’t communicate if one man is speaking French and the other is speaking German, his language is brutality’ (Malcolm X “The Homecoming Rally of the OAAU”). He even advocated for different institutions for the Afro-Americans (Malcolm X “The Homecoming Rally of the OAAU”). He saw the only way to know the enemy’s language was by studying his history.
Philosophy of nonviolence advocated by Martin Luther King Junior relied on another principle stating that nonviolent resistance was disposition to undertake suffering without revenging. He believed that one day he would see blacks and whites together. “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 of the classroom” (King, “Our God is Marching On”).
In his speech “I Have a Dream” he said that, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by their character’ (King). He also had a strong faith in achievement of freedom without violence.
Although Malcolm X did not favor violence, he had a strong objection on the subject of nonviolence philosophy on the blacks. In his “Interview with Young Socialist Alliance Leaders”, he said that, “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” (Malcolm). According to him, this could only work if it was done by both parties.
The philosophy of nonviolence by Martin Luther King Junior was the most sensible for this case. His method of addressing social problems was not biased. He looked at both sides equally, and he knew that even if they resorted to violence, the blacks would be outnumbered by the whites. ”
The Negro would face the same unchanged conditions, the same squalor and deprivation – the only difference being that bitterness would be more intense” (King “Our God is Marching On”). In comparison to Malcolm’s separatist philosophy, the King’s one would be most effective because it advocated for bringing the warring parties together.
Malcolm X presented his arguments in favor of the Negros (Malcolm X “Twenty Million Black People in Political, Economic and Mental Prison”). As a result, the gap between them became even wider. Martin Luther King produced an impression that he was peaceful and idealistic while most of his speeches encouraged the spirit of togetherness between blacks and whites.
King, Martin Luther. “I Have a Dream Speech”, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. 28 Aug. 1963. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
King, Martin Luther. “Our God is Marching On.” Montgomery, Alabama. 21 Mar. 1965. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
Malcolm X. “Interview with Young Socialist Alliance Leaders.” 18 Jan. 1965. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.
Malcolm X. “The Homecoming Rally of the OAAU.” New York. 29 Nov. 1964. Keynote Address.
Malcolm X. “Twenty Million Black People in Political, Economic and Mental Prison.” Michigan State University, 23 Jan. 1963. Keynote Speech.