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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were two of the most important civil rights activists in the United States. Dr. King, an Alabama born Baptist minister, and leader within the African American community, chose the non-violent approach to equality. Malcolm X, a Muslim born in Omaha fought for the same equality that Dr. King was fighting for. However, while both Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were both trying to fight the ‘Precept of Inferiority’ and gain equal rights. They shared similar views however, for the most part, they offered different solutions to issue.
One of the key things to discuss before touching on the similarities and differences between Dr. King and Malcolm X is the “Precept of Inferiority” as discussed by Higgenbotham. Its important to know that “our nation was founded explicitly, prospered implicitly, and still often lives uneasily on the precept of black inferiority and white supremacy” (Higgenbotham, 9). Both Dr. King and Malcolm X had different approaches to combating this idea of inferiority. However, in the end their goals were equal. Both wanted equality in this nation built on inequality.
Its clear that both Dr. King and Malcolm X were working towards the same goal. That said its important to understand that both of these influential individuals differed on one big topic: violence. In Dr. Kings I have a Dream speech he says do “not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred” (King). It is clear here that Dr. King has no intention of violence and suggest that no matter the situation it should always be approached through a non-violent approach. Dr. King feared that violence would only continue to fuel the hate received by African-Americans in the time period. Malcolm X didn’t share the same views on violence as Dr. King. Malcolm X had bought a little more into the “militancy which has engulfed the Negro community” (King). While Dr. King believed in turning the other cheek Malcolm X said that young African Americans “don’t want to hear that ‘turn the other cheek’ stuff. It is important to note that Malcolm X is not advocating for violence, however he is saying that its not an option to sit there and be victims.
While it appears that these two individuals appear to have vastly different solutions, the reality is that they are both fighting a common enemy, and they did align on numerous ideas. Both individuals were leaders in their communities that were trying to convince the African American community that they should not buy into this idea of inferiority. Dr. King, in his “I Have a Dream” speech said that “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal’” (King). Its clear that Dr. King is trying to rally those in his community to believe that they ought to be considered equals in this nation. Similarly Malcolm X used his leadership to convince his community to stand up to the oppression, and believe that they should never be considered inferior or worth less than any white person.
In conclusion, Dr. King and Malcolm X worked towards eliminating ideas of inferiority they chose different routes to reach the end. Both Malcolm X and Dr. King gave the greatest sacrifice in the name of equality, and while their solutions differed, in the end their campaigns were largely successful in the eyes of the law. Even today the African American community has to fight with the precept of inferiority, so while in the eyes of the law there is equality, there is still change in that needs to happen in the future.
Higginbotham Jr, A. Leon. Shades of Freedom: Racial politics and presumptions of the
American legal process. Oxford University Press, 1996.
Mount, Steve. “U.S. Constitution: The I Have a Dream Speech” us.constitution.net. Retrieved on
December 28, 2018 from https://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html
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