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Martin Luther King and Naacp Vs Malcom X in The Civil Rights Movement

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The Civil Rights movement that occurred during the 1950s through the 1960s was a major turning point in history as a whole. The african american people during this time worked to challenge legislation and make changes to history. They believed that it was time for change and that everyone should legally have equal rights. During this movement different black Americans went about the battle in different ways. Groups led by Martin Luther King were much more peaceful and believed that was the best way to get changes. But, Malcom X and his followers did not agree. They were violent and fought for themselves against white supremacy and fought to attempt to end the years of racism that they experienced during their lives. All in all, I believe that the non violent groups lead by Martin Luther King were more successful than the group’s lead by Malcom X and overall brought about more change. The groups lead by Martin eventually lead to the passing of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 which changed history forever.

Malcolm X was one leader who had a major impact on the Civil Rights movement. He was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. Even when Malcomlm was very young he experienced the racism of the world. He was very exposed to the dangers of the world at this time. Malcoms father, “Earl Little was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion…” Since Malcom saw his father use violence in order to solve problems during his life Malcom learned to adapt these same practices. He also saw that his father was threatened numerous times by the Ku Klux Klan throughout his life. His father was later killed for standing up for what he believed in but the police simply ruled his death an accident. This tragedy that he experienced lead him to act the way he did. He was incredibly angry at what happened to is father and he believed that the only was to fix the situation was to create legislation change. After his father’s death his mother, Louise. was broken down and, “Her children were split up amongst various foster homes and orphanages.” Malcom was later arrested and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. During his sentence Malcoms brother would visit him and teach him about the muslim religion. Malcom was intregued by this religion and began to study, “the teachings of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad taught that white society actively worked to keep African-Americans from empowering themselves and achieving political, economic and social success.” Malcom later changed his last name from Little to X because he believed Little was a slave name and he wanted to separate himself from that history. Though Malcom did not stay following Muhammad forever he did form many of his violent ideals from what he had learned. Overall, Malcoms entire life lead to his violent protest strategy that he adopted. His experience with his fathers death and the teachings that he learned form Muhammad lead him to lead his followers to fight against white surpremacy and to fight for equal rights.

When Malcom was finally released from prison he began to lead many groups of African American men that avidly spoke against racism. Malcom was known for preaching self-defense to his followers and he always advocated for everyone to protect themselves. Though this was not outright violence it is still a form of violence because of how much he preached it. He wanted his followers, the Black Muslums, to fight back against the white men in order to achieve what they wanted. At one of the marches that Malcom was leading he is quoted saying to a crowd with white people in it, “if you ‘put your hands on us thinking that we’re going to turn the other cheek — we’ll put you to death just like that.’” This was a very violent thing for Malcom to say and it shows him using his group, the Black Muslums, in order to threaten a group of white men. This made his followers feel that these actions were ok and made them feel urged to fight and defend themselves from the white aggression. At a different protest Malcom was quoted saying, “‘Stop sweet-talking [the white man]. Tell him how you feel…. [Let him know that] if he’s not ready to clean his house up, he shouldn’t have a house. It should catch on fire and burn down.’” This once again shows an example of Malcom using violent language within his protests. Malcom continued to use violent language to fuel the rage of his followers. He would always talk bad about the white community and he was able to get away with it because the Black Muslums were ready to fight and defend him. The radicalized ideas from Malcom X, “challenged the mainstream civil rights movement and the nonviolent pursuit of integration” that was always promoted by Martin Luther King Jr. and the NAACP. LAter Malcom eventually left the Black Muslums and insisted that he just wanted justice for the black community and that he wanted racism to end completely. Malcom overall had the same goals as Martin Luther King but he went about obtaining them in a much different way. Malcom recognized that his previous way of using violence in order to obtain justice was not the best way for him to approach the situation. Malcom and his group are not recognized for making a major impact on gaining respect for the black community and for passing legislation that would change history. Malcom believed that he preached violence in order to get his crowds of people to join in and fight for their own rights. It is said that the violence proved to encourage segregation more, specifically in the south. This is exactly what Malcom did not want to happen but because of his violent ways he did not get the effect that he wanted. The white people did not want to share anything with blacks because of the stereotype created that they were going to be violent. This in turn strengthened Jim Crow laws in the southern states. All in all, though Malcom X wanted to help the black community to eliminate segregation he overall hurt the issue. He scared the white community in to wanting more segregation and he portrayed the black community as violent which overall had negative effects on the fight for equality as a whole.

Though Malcom X did what he believed was right and fought for the ending of racism and segregation I believe that Martin Luther King and his non violent protests were more effective and therefore led to the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act. Martin Luther King Jr., originally Micheal King Jr., was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father and his maternal grandfather were both baptist preachers and his mother was a former school teacher. He was raised very well and always had a passion for learning. Though he grew up in a loving and supporting family he did still experience the segregation during this time. King said that he would “never forget the time when, at about age six, one of his white playmates announced that his parents would no longer allow him to play with King, because the children were now attending segregated schools.” King saw that the world around him was segregated and racist but he did not truly understand it until he was older. King later attended Morehouse College and from there entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. King was extremely successful at both of these schools he attended and collected numerous awards. This is just one example of how King was able to overcome his situation and flourish. King was able to show that a black man could do anything that a white man could do and he always worked extremely hard to prove this. Martin eventually settled down with his wife in 1953 where he became a pastor within a baptist church. Soon after Martin became a social activist who played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement. To conclude, though Martin experienced racism and segregation like Malcom he decided not to use violence and to prove that any black man could do anything that a white man could do.

Martin Luther King Jr was by far the most influential black leader of the Civil Rights Movement and he worked alongside of the NAACP in order to protest for his rights peacefully. He discovered that working with the NAACP would be vital in order for him to have the best chance to change American history since they were a powerful organization. King once stated that he, “sought equality and human rights for African Americans” and that he wanted to bring justice to all victims of racism through peaceful protesting. Although he wanted to stop the oppression along with Malcom X, King had a different approach to the situation. He believed that violent protest only hurt the chances of the Jim Crow Laws being abolished and the passing of new legislation. King decided that the NAACP would be a valuable resource for him because of the good that they had done before joining forces with King. One example of something positive that they did was in the case Brown vs. Board of Education Topeka. This case was a battle against the horrible Jim Crow laws, which were, “a term of officially sanctioned segregation that affected every aspect of American life, including schools, restaurants, trains, and all forms of transportation, theaters, drinking fountains, and many public and private facilities”. There were many specifics to these rules that made them completely unfair to any person of color. In this case, a seven year old girl named Linda Brown crossed dangerous train tracks daily to board a run down truck to Topeka. Her father, Oliver Brown, was angry that his daughter was put into danger just in order to get to school everyday while there was a different school nearby. But, the problem was that the closer school that was safer for her to get to was a white only school. Her father decided to work with the NAACP and they were able to sue the Board of Education of Topeka, not because of the separate but equal facilities, but because his daughter could not attend the whites only school. This case event went to the Supreme Court where they decided in favor of Oliver Brown and his daughter because the segregation of public schools was said to violate the 14th Amendment which deems it unconstitutional. This was a huge step for the NAACP and black activists as a whole because it ruled part of the Jim Crow Laws unconstitutional which gave colored people some of their rights back. Along with the NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. lead many marches in the south. One of the most memorable marches in Selma Alabama becauseSelma was considered the “valley of despair for black people” because of the racism and segregation within this city. Martin decided to march here when he discovered that 350 blacks were registered to vote yet the black community made up half of Selma ‘s 29,000 people. Martin rallied his supporters and marched to fight for the rights of the African Americans in Selma. When marching King stated, “We will march on the ballot boxes by the thousands… We must be willing to go to jail by the thousands. We are not asking, we are demanding a ballot.” King wanted all black members of the community to be able to vote not just the ones who were smart enough or had enough money. He was willing to go to jail for this cause which is what makes him one of the most important protest leaders of all time. Though King sometimes broke the law with his protests, they were still non violent. Instead Martin also did not view the whites as the enemy, he asked them to join him. More and more people started to join the movement after they began to see all the good that Martin was doing for the country. Martin and the NAACP held a march in Washington D.C., where King gave his famous I Have a Dream Speech. In the speech Martin stated, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin believed more than anyone else that racism needed to end and his peaceful protest helped in a big way to do so. This speech that he gave is still to this day one of the most famous and influential speeches of all time. Martin and the NAACP were latter able to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, “prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. This document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.” This document was incredibly important and signified that all of Luther’s hard work did not go to waste. The peaceful protests of from Martin and the NAACP clearly had an overall much bigger impact on the passing of legislation within the nation proving that peaceful protests where a more effect strategy within the Civil Rights Movement.

All in all, I believe that the peaceful protests that were led by Martin Luther King Jr along with the NAACP made a much bigger impact on the changing of legislation then Malcom X did with his violent strategies. Martin and the NAACP were able to push through the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act while Malcom scared the white people into wanting more segregation which was the exact opposite of the goal. This proves that peaceful protesting was overall a better strategy during the Civil Rights Movement and overall was more effective during this time. All in all, the groups lead by MArtin Luther King were able to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and from this they were able to change black history forever.


  • “Biography.” Malcolm X, n.d.
  • “Civil Rights Act (1964).” Our Documents – Interstate Commerce Act (1887),
  • Pachter, Adam ̈ ̈Any Means Necessary.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service,
  • Harris, Jacqueline L. Martin Luther King, Jr. F. Watts, 1983.
  • “History – Brown v. Board of Education Re-Enactment.” United States Courts,
  • King, Martin Luther. “I Have a Dream Speech.”,
  • Lewis, David L., and Clayborne Carson. “Martin Luther King, Jr.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1 May 2019,
  • Wexler, Sanford. The Civil Rights Movement: an Eyewitness History. Facts on File, 1999.

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Martin Luther King And Naacp Vs Malcom X In The Civil Rights Movement. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 6, 2022, from
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