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“Only a refusal to hate or kill can put an end to the chain of violence in the world and lead us toward a community where men can live together without fear.” This quote by Martin Luther King Junior depicts all of what his nonviolence campaign represented throughout the civil rights era. While we recognize MLK for the progress he made, he was not the only civil rights leader who opposed discrimination. Malcolm X had become a prominent figure for the black nationalist and the nation of Islam three years before King earned his Ph.D. in theology. This can show that Malcome was striving for civil rights years before King. The quote “I’m not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate and call myself a diner,” used in Malcome X’s brutality speech, more accurately depicts his beliefs. Although they were both fighting for equality, both King and X had differing views on how to go about this change. Specifically, Malcolm X depends on his right to defend himself agents wight aggressors, while Dr. King will always turn the other cheek. As opposed to the Ballot or the bullet, this philosophy was meant to build empathy between the protestors and the surrounding neigh saying community.
Given more thought, it could be observed that King had a more successful strategy. Remaining peaceful while still disrupting what you oppose gained the most positive (if you could call it positive) attention from the public and media. “To destroy anything, person or property, cant bring us closer to the goal that we seek,” stated King. This helps to establish the rule that violence only leads to a dark path. While the opposite was believed by Malcom X “it’ll be ballots, or it’ll be bullets. It’ll be liberty or it will be death,” which sheds light on his belief of there only being two solutions. This logic is only partially successful in the advancement, or forward movement, of the Civil Rights movement, as it made the public feel trapped or forced to comply, making the situations feel more biased under pressure. King’s tactics forced white bystanders to see how violent and deluded the usual way of thinking was by showing that what they were not allowed to do was innocent and that their oppression was unjust.
Another side of the story could be viewed from the point of Malcolm. While his methods were a little more volatile and unpredictable he still operated within the limits of the law. Unless the law forbade him from speaking out or trying to get his message across due to his race it was strictly followed. This unspoken rule was also used by Dr. King. Comparatively, they had a different childhood growing up that could have affected their ways of going about the civil rights movement. For example, X’s father was murdered and his mother had a nervous breakdown which she never recovered from when he was only six years old, putting him in the foster care system and leading him down a path of crime. While King, on the other hand, grew up in a household where both his father and his grandfather were preachers. His entire childhood he lived to be one too. The secret lives proved to divide their methods of protest.
This affects our modern-day thinking in correlation with civil rights. Today we believe that civil protest can only be non-violent because of the king’s long legacy. But Malcolm X did just as much for the movement as Dr. King did during the time that he was alive. Furthermore, X wasn’t doing anything wrong by using his rights to defend himself. It is believed now that, even in one’s own defense, violence at all is bad. While this may be true, we have seen in the past that violence is sometimes a necessary tool.
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