Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Compare and Contrast


Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X grew up in different environments. King was raised in a middle-class family where education was stressed, Whereas, Malcolm X came from a disadvantaged home. He was a self-taught man who received little to no education and rose to greatness on his own intelligence and determination.

Martin Luther King was born into a family whose name was well known in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though segregation was large in the south, Martin Luther King’s parents ensured that their child would be happy. King was a peaceful leader who urged non-violence to his million of followers. He traveled around the country giving speeches that inspired black and white listeners to work together for racial understanding.

Malcolm X, for the most part, believed that non-violence and integration was a plan by the whites to keep blacks in their places. He was angry at all the white racism and pushed his follower, through his speeches, to protest against whites. After Malcolm X got away from Elijah Mohammed, he changed, as you know from his latest speeches before his death.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King’s childhoods were very different. However, there speeches influence many whites and blacks in different ways. Malcolm was brought up in an atmosphere of violence. During his childhood, Malcolm was not only suffering abuse from whites, but also suffering it rights at home through domestic violence. His father beat his mother and both of them abused their children. His mother was forced to raise eight children while going through a state of depression. Malcolm mother had a mental breakdown; the children were all placed in foster homes. Malcolm’s anger really started while he suffered in integrated school system. Malcolm’s anger caused him to drop out of school. He started to use cocaine and set up a burglary ring to support his spending habit. Malcolm’s anger and his push of violence was a way of getting change.

Martin Luther King lived in a different childhood. He was a smart student that 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 received for his graduation present a new green Chevrolet at his graduation. He was raised in the almost perfect environment where dreams and love were worked on. King and X’s childhoods are "a study in polarity”.

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King both became icons in African-American culture and had a great influence on millions of African-Americans. King basically adopted an equality philosophy, where he felt that blacks and whites should be united and live together in peace. Malcolm X, however, pushed world and culture separation. 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 speeches. Although, their intentions were delivered in different styles and purposes they were both looking to help the state of African-Americans lifestyle.