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Martin Luther King Essay

The history of this two great men dates back to the 1920s when both of them were born (Malcolm x -19th may 1925, King Luther-15th Jan 1929). Their fame, fulfillment of dreams and influence was however, felt in the 1960s. Although, brought up at different capacities their history and influence has lots of similarity. Their remarkable contribution was almost at the same period of time(between 1957-1968). This is such a time when there was a lot of radical debate on racism in America in terms of the rights of both the blacks and whites.

Such a debate was due to the different priorities given to the two races in America. For example the blacks were not allowed to vote thus, need for constitutional amendment which Martin King Luther advocated for(Howard pp 8). There was also an aspect of inequality in the sense that black American schools could not offer chances for career advancement and the blacks lacked proper hospital facilities as in the story of Malcolm X. He highlights in his bibliography that his desire to be a lawyer could not be achieved in the Negro school he attended thus killing his dream and determination to continue schooling.

The inequality is also seen in the reason for the boycott of the Montgomery bus system (where blacks were to seat at the back sits of the bus while front seats were reserved for the whites) organized by Martin King Luther (Luther’s bibliography). The two men spearheaded very critical campaigns on their different believes on the position of all the Americans in political, economical and social standards. Their approaches were quite different although they both had remarkable speeches and quotations pulling a large crowd of followers to themselves. Martin Luther King was born of a Baptist minister and his mother was a school teacher.

He attended school to a post graduate attaining a PhD in systematic theology in Boston. He later became a clergyman in the Baptist church. His early life before getting into politics was that of a preacher living upright according to the moral standards of the society. It is during his ministration work that he discovered that, though his faith talks of all men been equal, with same need for respect accorded to them; this was not so in America because the whites here were treated with a higher esteem than the blacks. He sort to dig deep into the history of the two races and thus, got the determination to fight for equality in the two races.

He also got some inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi of India who had led his country to independence from the British rule. It is from Gandhi that he adopted the idea of non violent protests. His approach was non violent though with different touch to various principles for example; he used the non partisan principle when he refused to en dose for any particular candidate in presidential run up. (Howard pp 57). It is through ecumenism that he brought people together in his civil movement activities. He also incorporated mass protest, mobilization of bus boycotts and enlightenment through speeches.

The boycotts lasted for 382 days leading to bombing of his house and his imprisonment. In prison he resorted into writing. He wrote letters and this advanced to five books namely: The measure of a man, Strength to love, Stride towards freedom, Trumpet of conscience and why we can’t wait. From jail Martin Luther King founded the Southern Christians Leaders Congress from which he could carry out his civil reform protest and the Student Non violent Coordinating Committee to help black students from violent protests but this was to no avail as the students turned his ideas down posing a great challenge to his campaigns.

He was received the Nobel peace price in 1964 as the youngest person to this award at an age of 35. His campaigns were successful because in 1965 the US congress passes a voting right act so that the blacks could now be allowed to vote. He also managed to prevent violent attacks by the blacks who had lost their children when their church was attacked by some whites through a great expressive and advisory e urology presented at the burial ceremony but it is his speech “I have a dream” that have accorded him more fame.

This speech was delivered at Washington DC where he had an audience of 250 000 people (Bennet pp64). Among his successes was the award of the man of the year as the first black to this title by the Time magazine of America. The civil right movement which he founded continued but pressure by the youth to engage in violent campaigns against discrimination led him to a new turn in his career and life yet again, where he now turned to protest against poverty and war.

He greatly complained against Vietnam war and in the process of organizing a march in protest of the problems that poor garbage collectors in Memphis, Tennessee were undergoing, he was assassinated. This was in April 1968. Although dead his great words are echoed to date. His works are also remembered by many as the man behind the civil rights and reforms in America. Malcolm X on the other side was a son to an outspoken Baptist minister who followed a Black Nationalist leader called Marcus Garvey. His mother was a house wife.

He went to school up to secondary level and later dropped as he could not see possibilities of achieving his dreams as a black. His father was found dead and the neighbors thought this was a plan by the whites to silence the blacks. This was quite early as Malcolm was only six and it led the family to poverty hence the mother got mental breakdown and was sent to an asylum for 26 years. (Lomax pp 12). Malcolm together with his brothers was taken to foster homes. This got him into petty crimes like gambling and burglary later moved to New York and advanced his criminal life to prostitution and sell of drugs.

He was later arrested during which he converted to Islam from the influence of his brother who used to visit him. This was demonstrated by change of his name from Malcolm little to Malcolm X, because he now believed Little was a slavery name. In prison he also joined some classes to continue with his schooling which he had stopped in earlier years this was a great boost to his later writings and speeches although he was not a professional in any particular field. When released from jail he was now a reformed man and so he joined the Nation of Islam and became one of the leaders.

Here he advocated for the teachings learn t from jail which included: a believe that evil men would face the wrath of Allah, blacks should get away from the lifestyle of the whites both in financial conditions, social integration, their structure of leadership, their way of thinking and in the art of worship. As a religious leader he built up mosques at Pennsylvania and Philadelphia where he had captured a massive following. There were some disagreements with the main leader of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X; due to the statement he made following the assassination of President John F.

Kennedy (saw the assassination as a case of “the chicken coming home to roost”) and so was accorded a 90 day suspension with orders to remain silent without presenting any speeches. (Lomax pp 32). He found this slightly unbearable and although some people argue that he had some misunderstandings with the leader of Nation of Islam, over his conduct and moral uprightness, one thing was clear: it was time for Malcolm to call it quits. He then formed his own Muslim Mosque Inc. His idea of racial segregation was not to coexist peacefully with King Luther’s idea of constitutional amendment peaceful intermingled living.

He did not want any mixing of the blacks and whites at any degree so his solution was that; blacks have their own state even if through war. His followers were to use armed self defense against violence from the whites. He also criticized Christianity as a religion that copied the whites way of life thus due to poverty, the blacks ended up in crime in attempt to imitate this lifestyles. It is during this time that he went on pilgrimage to Mecca and got some inspiration from other cultures changing his focus from the black Muslims to all races and religions.

His ideology on all whites as bad people responsible for all the misery that the blacks faced was also changed and now considered the whites as individuals with personal opinions rather than stereotyping them to a bunch of ‘demons’. Claiming to have found the more and profound truths about Islam as a religion and lifestyle, Malcolm changed his name yet again to El Hajj El Shabazz. His mission was not left out in this wave of change as now he considered in cooperating all blacks despite their religion affiliation in his founded Organization of Afro-American Unity.

Its through this organization that he led the first ever greatest black American rally. Malcolm now set out to discussion with groups belonging to the whites and wanted to present the grievances of the black Americans in the US to UN. He also urged his followers to register in for voting process and sort for a change in the management of public facilities within the black communities from the whites who dominated every field of management and administration, to be done by the blacks.

His charismatic speeches and influence was mainly through media (he had a program covered on the television and in the radio and wrote articles to be published in the dailies). His debates seamed to be outrightly remarkable giving a very strong essence of what he believed in, thus captured very large number of audience. Malcolm X was assassinated in February1965 at New York as he was addressing a rally. He left a very significant contribution to black power movements as the Nation of Islam, the Muslim Mosque Inc and the Organization of Afro-American still went on in the believes he had taught them.

His believes got more momentum after his autobiography was published in 1965. (Howard pp116). The Malcolm X societies is a product of what he established. Similarities among this two men start from their birth to their death. This is because the blacks had equally similar lifestyles and opportunities as they were the marginalized group in America. Both of them were born in the same year and their impact was felt within the same period of time. They had equally same faith in their upbringing as their fathers were ministers in the Baptist church.

They had a first hand experience of the brutality of the whites as their homes were burnt, underwent imprisonment and finally were assassinated. The two men changed their names at one point of their lives (Martin’s name was changed while he was still young from his previous name: Michael to his current name: Martin). Their lives took different phases changing from school life to religious leaders to politics and finally to human right activist. The pulpit was used as a way to spread their beliefs and influence the community.

In both incidences, there was some inspiration from communities outside America which marked the start of a new phase of their lives. Both of them spoke strongly against racial discrimination. Their speeches and charisma has also lived long after their death and they all died through assassination in the 1960s. They equally had a large crowd of followers. Their writings are considered inspirational and great by both the black and white Americans. In the last phase of their lives and career, they had a great focus on poverty and empowerment of the blacks.

The differences between this two individuals is not much they basically had almost the same kind of background and they all fought for discrimination on the lines of race. Martin’s way of fighting was non violent but Malcolm’s way was by use of armed defense and rejecting cooperation to the whites ideas. The King got into his father’s line of career and maintained his religion while Malcolm diverted into Islam. Though both of them were charismatic and great speakers; Malcolm had a lower level of education.

Luther led a straight life all along but Malcolm was once involved in crime before his reform and conversion to Islam. King Luther’s tool of communication was mainly his pulpit, crusades and campaign meetings unlike Malcolm’s which involved the media. Martin Luther was accorded the international award of the Nobel Peace Price and the man of the year title in the times magazine while Malcolm only got recognition with no award except for the blacks having some societies named after him. Martin’s campaigns of non violent protests were met with criticisms from fellow blacks unlike Malcolm’s.

It is out of this two figures that others like Nelson Mandela of South Africa and Martin Luther King Junior, have found a base to stand on and fight against discrimination of whatever form. The world today remembers this two dear people as heroes (especially America). They made a remarkable spirit toward racial segregation which has continued up to today. Their stand as spiritual leaders on what they believed is an example to be followed by most leaders today who see lawfully practices and shun from condemning them.

Work Cited: Bennet Lerone Jn, “What manner of man: a biography of Martin Luther King” Chicago Johnson publishers (1964). pp 5-112 Brief History with Documents. ISBN 0312395051, 9780312395056; Bedford/SMartin’s 2004 Lomax Louise, “To kill a black man” Los Angels , CA:Hollooway House Publishing Company (1968) pp 12-86 ‘Man of the year’ Time 1983 (January 3, 1964). pp 13-16 ; 25-27. Pitney,Howard and David Martin Luther King , Malcolm X and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. (1978) 8-122 Russel Adam, “Great Negroes Past and present”Chicago. Afro-american publishers. (1963)pp 64-246. Russel Adam, “Great Negroes Past and present”Chicago. Afro-american publishers. (1963)pp 64-246.


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