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Martin Luther King VS. Malcolm X

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The United States is the land of racism. No matter how long it takes and no matter how far the government and social groups try to achieve equality among the races in the United States, it means nothing. Racism has been a major issue among the population in the United States for a long period of time, and it still occurs nowadays. There are a lot of people with all different types of skin colors and ethnic groups in the States, which are Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Mexican Americans. In addition, the main widespread problem of racism in America is the white majority against ethnic groups, especially the black people.

It can be said that equality is the concept in which it does not exist at all in the land of America. Racism in the United States is the unstoppable problem, and it could not solve until in these days. It can also lead to many areas of problems such as education, employment, and housing. There are many policies that try to change things within the country, but they are failed because they do not look at the real problem and absolutely cannot change people's thoughts. These are just forces for people to like each other. Furthermore, there are several groups in America that try to give the black people more opportunity and have a better life in the States. They also call for racial equality in the society. Two famous and important black leaders that represent themselves and call for the rights for all black Americans are Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Their Background

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had a different background of their lives, and they also grew up in a completely distinct environment. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, America. He came from a comfortable middle-class family, had a high education, and was raised with the strong values of self-worth (Degnan-Veness, p.2). Unlike Martin Luther King, Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 and came from underprivileged home. He was a little educated man and rose to the greatness on his own intelligence. In addition, he was raised with fear, anger, and bitterness because his family was demolished. His house was burned by the Klu Klux Klan, a secret organization of white men who hated African Americans, in which this painful situation led to the death of his father. Several years after the death of his father, his mother suffered an emotional breakdown and then his family was separated. Malcolm X had to live his whole life with the haunted nightmare that occurred from this situation, and he became hatred and wanted to take revenge (Biography of Malcolm X, 2001). This could probably say that Martin Luther King enjoyed his best life, especially the love of his parents whereas Malcolm X was a lonely man who suffered a lot from being separated and facing the bad situation since when he was young.

Their attitudes towards the White Americans

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had an enormous influence on African Americans and became the icons of their culture. Nevertheless, both of them had a completely different attitude towards the White Americans. Martin Luther King had a positive thought and focused on the peaceful way of calling for African Americans rights while the point of view of Malcolm X towards the White Americans was pessimistic, brutal, and violent including the most desire to get back to the world that was treated him pretty much unfairly.

Martin Luther King: Social Inclusion

In the past, people in America were treated unequally. The Blacks had to be separated to the Whites. Some were forced to use separate all black schools, stores, restaurants, water fountains, entrances of hospital, etc. Furthermore, some parts of the States, the blacks had no right or were denied to vote (Struggle for Equality: Quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr., 2011). Therefore, it made the black people need to have equality and the rights like the white people. This led to the beginning of civil rights movement, and Martin Luther King was one of all the leaders that made the progress about this.

Martin Luther King was an idealistic person and had the attitude in terms of peace and non-violence towards the White Americans. He believed that peaceful arguments and demonstrations would led the African Americans achieve the equality and to be accepted in the society like the White Americans someday. He also believed that the Blacks and the Whites could be united and lived together in terms of peace. "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." (Patterson, p. 135) In addition, Martin Luther King was a Baptist minister father and a school teacher mother, and then he became the voice of the movement which heard by millions of people around the world. His civil rights movement in this essay will be divided into early civil rights movement and late civil rights movement.

Early Civil Rights Movement

The first step of the change between the Black Americans and the White Americans by Martin Luther King began in December 1955 in Montgomery. At that time, there was segregation on city buses in which the Blacks had to give seats to the Whites, and they could not sit in the same row. Many black people were angry and did not satisfied, but they could do nothing. Moreover, they wanted to start a boycott in Montgomery. Rosa Parks, a forty-year-old black woman, made Martin Luther King see the civil rights movement come into action. She was forced to give the seat to the white passenger by the driver, however, she refused it. Therefore, the driver called the police, and she was arrested by them. Later, Martin Luther King took charge of this situation to call for African Americans rights cooperated by Nixon, the NAACP worker, Abernathy, and Rosa Parks and led to the boycott of the Montgomery city buses (Cozzens, 1997). On December 5, 50,000 boycotters spoke with their feet "We will not ride on segregated buses again!" (Degnan-Veness, p.10) This made the Bus Company and white politicians angry and wanted to destroy the boycott because they lost money. Nevertheless, the marches still continued. Martin Luther King became the leader of this civil rights campaign, and he and his followers would not fight back to the Whites even though they tried so hard to fight them with violence. For example, the Klu Klux Klan bombed Martin Luther King's home. This made a lot of black people in front of his house mad and wanted to attack the Whites, but Martin Luther King bravely told them "I want you to go home. We must love our white brothers… We must meet hate with love." (Degnan-Veness, p.13) This can prove that Martin Luther King resisted on his own peaceful way against the Whites. This protest took about 382 days to overcome, and the US government passed a new law in which the segregation on buses in all states was illegal. After this Montgomery Bus Boycott ended, Martin Luther King gave speeches all over the country, and he was ready for another fight which was voting rights for all African Americans in which the ideas of protest was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He wanted President Eisenhower to help African Americans in the south because they were segregated and had no rights to vote by asking the help from Richard Nixon, the closet man to the President. However, it changed nothing. Therefore, in 1957, he organized SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) with 115 black leaders in Montgomery to help African Americans get the rights to vote. Martin Luther King also said "The SCLC is church-orientated because of the very structure of the Negro community in the South." (Trueman, 2000) This also led to the black students protest who were prohibited from public places such as restaurant, bar, and swimming pool. Martin Luther King joined with them and was arrested. However, he was helped by John F. Kennedy to be free.

Late Civil Rights Movement

After all situations from above, these became another student protest in 1961 which was called "Freedom Rides". Protesters were not the Blacks only but also some of the Whites, and they were hurt badly from the violent actions of the Klu Klux Klan. Martin Luther King was worried about it and asked the help from JFK's brother, Robert Kennedy. Finally, the protesters reached their goal, and segregation in bus stations in the South ended by the request of Robert Kennedy at Interstate Commerce Commission (Cozzens, 1997). Next, Martin Luther King wanted to take his campaign in Birmingham, Alabama where ruling black population by fear. He was the big enemy to the city's police chief, Eugene "Bull" Connor, who hated black people and their civil rights campaign. When people, including children, marched for integration demand, Connor took all of them in jail with violent method such as dogs and water (A Conflict in Black and White, 2011). Later, because of the Alabama state court sent a letter to Martin Luther King in 1963 that black demonstration was illegal; he was arrested again after he announced in public "The court will not stop me" (Degnan-Veness, p.23). Therefore, he decided to write a letter from Birmingham jail, and this letter made city leaders agreed to unite bathrooms, drinking water machines, lunch bars, and employed more black people. This Birmingham protest changed the nation by President John F. Kennedy proposed a bill that outlawed racial discrimination. People, black Americans and white Americans, marched together to Washington in 1963 to support this bill of rights and call for jobs and freedom. Martin Luther King also gave a speech "I have a dream", and it was about for all Americans to be equal no matter what color skin they have just a heart and mind of person were important. He was one of history's public speaker, important icon of civil rights movement, and got the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his non-violent protest to end racial discrimination and prejudice (Martin Luther King and the Movement, 2000).

Malcolm X: Social Exclusion

Unlike Martin Luther King, Malcolm X had a strongly negative towards the White Americans because his life and his family were treated unfairly and brutally. From having a hopeless life, he wanted to change and fight back for all African Americans by using violent method towards the Whites. He believed that only though revolution and force that could make black people get the right place, and he would do any necessary means to achieve equality. For example, he encouraged his followers by giving speeches to make them rise up and fight against their white enemies. This could be said that his speeches came from and based on his brutal life that had a negative though towards the Whites since he was young. The movement of Malcolm X will be divided into three parts which are Pre-Nation of Islam period, Nation of Islam period, and Post-Nation of Islam period.

Pre-Nation of Islam

Malcolm X was brought up in a violent atmosphere. He was suffered not only from abuse by the Whites, but also from domestic violence. His father abused his mother, and both of them abused their children, including him. He could not dream, go to school with the Whites, and was looking down by the Whites. After his family was split up from the burning house by the Klu Klux Klan, he turned from a good boy to a bad man. His dream was to be a lawyer, but he was told from his teacher that it was no realistic goal for a nigger. Therefore, he dropped out from school and lived his life with no destination. He also lived his life with no fear and used every kind of drugs. He worked several odd jobs to earn money by himself in Boston, Massachusetts, and then moved to Harlem, New York where he committed crimes. For example, he formed a house of robbing gang and gambling rings. This led him go to jail for seven years (Biography of Malcolm X, 2001).

Nation of Islam

For seven years in the prison, he used this opportunity to change himself to a new man. He gained the knowledge and educated himself. In addition, during in the prison, he was bias to Christian because he thought that Christian was a tool of the White Americans to keep the Blacks down. Therefore, this led him want to find the suitable religion for black people and then he joined the Nation of Islam, the Black Muslim Movement. The belief of Islam was the Black Pride and Black Nationalism. Later, he adopted the name of Malcolm X. Within a short period of time, Malcolm X became the main spokesperson for the leader which was Elijah Muhammad (Smith, 2005). The goal of Nation of Islam was not integration, and it wanted the Blacks to establish their own schools, churches, and support network (Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, 2008). In addition, he promoted that he was so proud of being black. His personal commitment made the Nation of Islam worldwide. He devoted himself in the Nation of Islam for 12 years. He preached that the white man was the devil and the "Honorable Elijah Muhammad" was God's messenger. As a result, "Malcolm X recommended a separatist and nationalist strategy for black survival," (Clarke, p. 57) Moreover, he gave the speech, "Definition of a Revolution", in 1963 which openly justified violence as a way to gain equality. "And if it is right for America to draft us and teach us how to be violent in defense of the country, then isn't it right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country," (Clarke, p. 253). He strongly rose up the African Americans to fight against the White Americans though revolution. "Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way," (Clarke, p. 255) Malcolm X became very popular, and the jealous time became while he was the member of Nation of Islam. He heard the rumor that Elijah Muhammad had children with women in the organization, so in 1964 he announced that he was leaving the Nation of Islam (Nosotro, 2003).

Post-Nation of Islam

After he left the Nation of Islam, he realized that he was taught in wrong way. He set up a new organization by himself, and this was called the Muslim Mosque. He also made a pilgrimage to Mecca. He found Afro-American Unity, including all people of African descent in the Western hemisphere. It made the tensions between himself and the Nation of Islam increased further, to the point where the Nation of Islam leadership were asserted to have directly ordered the assassination of Malcolm and his family. This group made a further step of violence and served as a political attempt to unite black cause in America, built ties to African community, and needed to unite with civil rights movement to advance the Blacks in America to an international level (Malcolm X Biography, n.d.). Unluckily, he was murdered, so this legacy did not get much attention.

Conclusion

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were different in many things; however, they had the same goal in their mind, which was to achieve equality between all races. Both of them were the great leaders who fought for a difference and change in the Black Americans.


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