• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Compare the aims, methods and achievements of MLK and Malcolm X. Which man do you think was most successful at achieving civil rights for African Americans in the 1960s?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare the aims, methods and achievements of MLK and Malcolm X. Which man do you think was most successful at achieving civil rights for African Americans in the 1960s? I would suggest that Martin Luther king was the more successful man in terms of achieving civil rights for African Americans in the 1960s. While this may seem a choice influenced by public image, I would suggest that there were issues with Malcolm X's image and methodology that made it unlikely that he would ever be accepted (and thus, respected) by White America. I think that Martin Luther King, while viewed by some blacks with contempt for his relatively moderate attitude, genuinely evaluated the situation in which he was operating and suited his modus operandi to make it as beneficial as possible. As a result of this, I think that Martin Luther King made it easier for himself to achieve his aims of bringing about equality for African-Americans in the 1960s in America. I will, however, examine in greater detail the differences in the methodology of the men later on. Put simply, Martin Luther King aimed to ensure that black people were equal in America in the 1960s. Inequality was made manifest through segregation, whether in the guise of schooling, buses, or 'whites only' benches. This stemmed mostly from King's childhood and experiences as a young adult, one of which led to him being threatened with a gun for demanding service in a segregated restaurant. ...read more.

Middle

But the mass action used in initiatives such as the March on Washington in 1963 made black issues impossible to ignore, and helped black people experience solidarity and ubiquity in their anonymity and numbers. King himself proclaimed: "The Negro is shedding his fear", and while this is something King was worried about, I think that this is something that was in fact brought about by King. Black people in America could now see that it was acceptable to feel insulted; angry and bitter about the injustices of slavery. Because of this, I would suggest that Martin Luther King succeeded in his aims as I would suggest it was his methodology of mass action that inspired black people to rise up, and the White House (and people) to sit up and listen. However, there was to be another character with what some today would consider a more direct influence on the position of black people in 1960s America. Malcolm X approached the Civil rights struggle in America in the 1960s in a very different manner to King indeed, and I would suggest that in spite of his iconographic status, he largely failed in his aims. X aimed to rail against the whole idea of demanding Civil Rights, suggesting that black and white men could never be truly equal. X regarded black people as Africans 'who just happened to be in America', and as such X took up a position described by Cornell as 'The basic aim... ...read more.

Conclusion

To conclude, I would suggest that while both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had flaws which, ultimately, crippled the growth of the Civil Rights Movement, they both contributed in significantly different ways to the fight for black Civil Rights. While I would contend that the theological and occasionally violence beliefs of Malcolm X made him seem unacceptable to white America, I think that his effective martyrdom resulted in disaffected black youths returning to political activism after they felt shunned by what they perceived to be 'Uncle Tom' behaviours on the part of King. One could, I feel, successfully argue that X's increased appeal also came from his 'everyman' upbringing in Harlem, and that black youths could not truly identify with a Southern minister. In addition,one could argue that King's campaign depended on violence as much as X's. If King's activists and followers were not viciously suppressed, I doubt that moderate America would have eventually got round to championing their cause, evidenced by the fact that approximately a quarter of participants in the 'March on Washington' 1963 were white. However, I would suggest that King's populism was to raise a number of black activists and student dissenters that would result in white America being cowed by the influence of millions of African-Americans, and, finally, result in the Civil Rights that black America had been fighting for. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    To what extent were Malcolm X and the subsequent Black Power Movement the 'Evil ...

    4 star(s)

    already been achieved such as desegregation in schools and public transport in much of the South. The leadership of King was not for everybody. Malcolm X described King as an 'Uncle Tom'18; playing into the hands of the white man by only accepting limited gains in order to gain the

  2. Discuss the influences on Malcolm X and how they helped form his ideology in ...

    It is therefore clear from Malcolm X's life that most of his leadership qualities were borne out from his association with the Nation of Islam. The influences on the views of Malcolm X from the period 1949 up until 1963 were purely in line with the Nation of Islam.

  1. Short term impact of Malcolm X

    Many radical SNCC members stated that "Malcolm, more than any single personality was able to articulate the aspirations, bitterness, and frustration of the Negro people"18. Manning Marable argues that "it is difficult for historians to capture the vibrant essence of Malcolm X, his earthly and human character, his position as

  2. How Successful Was Martin Luther Kings Campaign For Civil Rights Between 1955-68?

    Yet again these scenes of vicious violence shown by the media only furthered the deep sympathy of the white community to the plight of the black Americans. Although not all of Martin Luther King?s endeavours were to be so successful, in 1961 King marched on Albany predicting that local sheriff Laurie Pritchett would retaliate with violence against the protestors.

  1. How did the aims and methods of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X differ?

    Malcolm was in favour of Black Power and pride in one?s race which can be observed in his speech in 1962 in Los Angeles, where he asked his black audience ?Who taught you to hate yourselves?? His activity came down to speeches and sermons on Black Pride and fighting for their rights.

  2. How far were the forces opposed to civil rights responsible for the failure of ...

    Some of the opposition came from state governments in the North, for example when King tried to tackle the problem of segregation in housing in Chicago, he was met by strong opposition from not only the residents, but mayor Richard Daley as well.

  1. Assess the view that the Supreme Court was the most important branch of the ...

    As a result, by the end of the 1960s only 4 out of the 13 Southern states had less than 50% of African Americans registered for the vote. This was significant when considering that during the first half of the period; very few blacks were even allowed to vote in the South.

  2. Civil Rights Revision Cards 1945-68

    1. Attorney General (head of justice dept in fed.gov) Robert Kennedy enforced the supreme court rulings on desegregated interstate travel (demonstrates importance of federal intervention) However, 1. Nothing new? Eg - Tactic first used in 1947 (but not successful then)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work