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Recognition for civil rights

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Introduction

Recognition for civil rights reached its peak in the 1950s and 60s for black people in the United States, and this was predominantly due to two key activist leaders. Martin Luther King. Jr and Malcolm X were both effective and groundbreaking in their efforts for civil rights and equality, albeit in distinctly different ways. This essay shall determine the roles they played within their movements, and will attempt to identify similarities as well as differences in their ideas and methods. I will also assess the significance of their achievements, and decide how they contrast or compare to one another. To evaluate the two leaders' roles in comparison to each other, it is essential to first identify their characters and backgrounds. Martin Luther King was raised by a Baptist minister in Atlanta, and earned a PhD in Philosophy before accepting a call to preach in Montgomery. The influences for his eventual beliefs on resistance were based on the Gospels, the writings of Henry David Thoreau and the example of Mahatma Gandhi in India. Colaiaco describes the genius of King as having "the ability to perceive that there is something noble in humanity that, once tapped, has the power to transform the world." ...read more.

Middle

King's March on Washington in 1963, although extremely moving and influential, was accused by Malcolm X as a sell-out to the racist system. Malcolm's denunciation reflected many black militants' sentiments. It could be argued, however, that Martin Luther King's was able to have such an influence in his lifetime precisely because the white liberals were able to accept him (at least, until his far-reaching critique of America's foreign policy in the last part of his life). His goals and methods were not radical. As King explained in his 'Letter to Birmingham', he represented a middle course between two opposing groups in the black community. There were those who had resigned themselves to segregation for dignity, or for the minority of blacks, to keep their middle-class status, and there were those who were (according to King) the promoters of "bitterness and hatred" who came "perilously close to advocating violence." King always regarded the doctrine of black supremacy as evil as the doctrine of white supremacy. He dismissed separatism as a "nihilistic philosophy", but although Malcolm X's principles were often based on violence and hyperbole, he did have two main positive effects on the civil rights movement. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is valid to say that both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were pioneers concerning civil rights in the 1950s and 60s. During their careers, they upheld different ideologies and methods of gaining freedom and equality for black people. It could be argued that, as Martin Luther King was the more distinguished and "acceptable" of the two to generic America (he did win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964), he would have had a much broader impact across the country. Resistance through love and understanding was a powerful way of increasing integration between blacks and whites. It was Malcolm X who pointed out, in the North, the problems that integration was ignoring. It was through this mutual link that real change began to take effect for civil rights. 1 J. Colaicao, Martin Luther King Jr.: Apostle of Militant Non-violence 2 Malcolm X, with Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X 3 Martin Luther King, Jr. 1958 4 National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People 5 Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty 6 Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee 7 Thomas Savell, Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? ?? ?? ?? ?? Compare the Roles Played by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X 1 ...read more.

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