Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X grew up in different
environments. King was raised in a comfortable middle-class family
where education was stressed. On the other hand, Malcolm X came from
and underprivileged home.
He was a self-taught man who received
little schooling and rose to greatness on his own intelligence and
determination. Martin Luther King was born into a family whose name
in Atlanta was well established. Despite segregation, Martin Luther
King’s parents ensured that their child was secure and happy.
Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 and was raised in a
completely different atmosphere than King, an atmosphere of fear and
anger where the seeds of bitterness were planted. The burning of his
house by the Klu Klux Klan resulted in the murder of his father. His
mother later suffered a nervous breakdown and his family was split up.
He was haunted by this early nightmare for most of his life. From
then on, he was driven by hatred and a desire for revenge.
The early backgrounds of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were
largely responsible for the distinct different responses to American
racism. Both men ultimately became towering icons of contemporary
African-American culture and had a great influence on black Americans.
However, King had a more positive attitude than Malcolm X, believing
that through peaceful demonstrations and arguments, blacks will be
able to someday achieve full equality with whites. Malcolm X’s
despair about life was reflected in his angry, pessimistic belief that
equality is impossible because whites have no moral conscience.
basically adopted on an integrationalist philosophy, whereby he felt
that blacks and whites should be united and live together in peace.
Malcolm X, however, promoted nationalist and separatist doctrines.
For most of his life, he believed that only through revolution and
force could blacks attain their rightful place in society.
Both X and King spread their message through powerful,
hard-hitting speeches. Nevertheless, their intentions were delivered
in different styles and purposes.
“King was basically a peaceful leader who urged non-violence
to his followers.
He travelled about the country giving speeches that
inspired black and white listeners to work together for racial
harmony.” (pg. 135, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Freedom Movement)
Malcolm X, for the most part, believed that non-violence and
integration was a trick by the whites to keep blacks in their places.
He was furious at white racism and encouraged his followers through
his speeches to rise up and protest against their white enemies.
After Malcolm X broke away from Elijah Mohammed, this change is
reflected in his more moderate speeches.
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King’s childhoods had powerful
influences on the men and their speeches. Malcolm X was brought up in
an atmosphere of violence. During his childhood, Malcolm X suffered
not only from abuse by whites, but also from domestic violence. His
father beat his mother and both of them abused their children. His
mother was forced to raise eight children during the depression.
After his mother had a mental breakdown, the children were all placed
in foster homes.
Malcolm X’s resentment was increased as he suffered
through the ravages of integrated schooling. Although an intelligent
student who shared the dream of being a lawyer with Martin Luther
King, Malcolm X’s anger and disillusionment caused him to drop out of
school. He started to use cocaine and set up a burglary ring to
support his expensive habit. Malcolm X’s hostility and promotion of
violence as a way of getting change was well established in his
Martin Luther King lived in an entirely different environment.
He was a smart student and skipped two grades before entering an ivy
league college at only the age of 15.
He was the class valedictorian
with an A average. King paraded his graduation present in a new green
Chevrolet before his fellow graduates. He was raised in the perfect
environment where dreams and love were generated. King and X’s
childhoods are “a study in polarity.” (pg. 254, Reflecting Black)
Whereas, Malcolm X was raised in nightmarish conditions.
King’s home was almost dream-like. He was raised in a comfortable
middle-class home where .