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MLK vs. Malcolm X (similarities/differences)

March 14, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are very prominent African American individuals throughout history. They fought for what they stood for but in many different ways. As we all know in history there are no two great men that are alike. Their many beliefs may have blossomed from the households they came from and how they grew up. King grew up in a middle class family and was well educated. While, Malcolm X grew up in an underprivileged environment that was very hostile with barely any schooling. Martin Luther King Jr. was always against violence, throughout his entire ministry. He always stood his ground, and he stood out because even

though he may have been physically attacked, he never reacted with violence. Martin Luther King Jr. followed the Christian faith. Malcolm X was a Muslim, and believed in Muslim principles. His most famous line was “By any Means Necessary”. He believed in fighting back physically. Whatever had to be done to get freedom he was all for it whether it be violence or nonviolence. Although later in life he visited Jerusalem, and met other Muslims. He changed his views, and became nonviolent.


One of the most famous civil rights acts was the March on Washington, which portrays the different perspectives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The March on Washington took place on August 28, 1963. Over 20,000 people came to march from Washington to the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C. This march happened to be one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s greatest accomplishments throughout his life. Th

is event is where he took the crown for the face of the civil rights movement. Even in a time of violence, King would never act out. King wanted all the races to come together for the hatred and

violence to be put to a halt. Malcolm X had a different perspective regarding the march. He felt that integration would destroy the black and the white man. He felt that American blacks should be more concerned with helping each other. He felt blacks should start by giving the same race self-respect first. He did not agree with what King had to say, he felt that kings dream was not a dream but a nightmare.


MLK’s approach to civil rights/equality was non-violent protesting, speaking out for non-violence, passive resistance, and what he called, “weapons of love”. However, Malcolm X’s approach to civil rights/equality was extremely different. He was suspicious of whites, willing to use “by any means necessary” to achieve equality. He was a segregationist until he went to Mecca. The commonality that they both share is that they both wanted equal rights for African Americans they just went down different paths to receive those rights.


In my opinion I feel that MLK was a better more prominent advocate for the Civil Rights Movement. I feel this way because he was a peaceful leader, he was always for a non-violence approach with handling things, and he wanted everyone, all races to come together and form equality. If society followed through with Malcolm X’s approach for segregation and for races to be separated the world would honestly be a hell ho

le. Because of MLK’s peaceful approach he is well respected all over the world by many races and on top of that he has his own holiday. If it weren’t for him, I would not be where I am at now.




  1. Stephan Sakhai permalink
    March 14, 2011 5:14 PM

    You finish your post backing the peaceful ways of MLK and putting down the violent ones of Malcolm X. You say you wouldn’t be where you are now if it werent for MLK, and you seem to not give any credit at all to Mr. X.

    I wonder, however, if you are overlooking the fact that you dont know what would have happened if Malcolm X didnt use violent means and it was only MLK’s peaceful motives that fought for civil rights in America. Although MLK’s methods might have been more important and influential, I feel you cannot overlook what Malcolm X did, both by rallying blacks and instilling fear in whites.

    I also wonder who other philosophers would side with, the violent efforts of Malcolm X or the peaceful ones of MLK. Locke, for example, might promote standing up to protect your property, and would therefore side with Mr. X and his “by any means necessary” approach.

    I would therefore argue that although MLK was very important, and yes probably the most important man when it comes to civil rights and equality, I dont think anyone can take away credit to others, including MAlcolm X, for their efforts and help they had in providing equality to all people in America.

  2. Jake Winn permalink
    March 15, 2011 4:21 PM

    After reading your comparison of MLK and Socrates I realize that you have a great understand of the differences between the two. MLK believed in a non-violent form of protest known as “civil disobedience” which Ghandi used years earlier in his protests against British control in India. On the other hand, Malcolm X believed in the use of any eans necessary to reach his goals.

  3. Jake Winn permalink
    March 15, 2011 4:53 PM

    After reading your comparison of MLK and Socrates, I realize that you have a great understanding of the differences between the two. MLK believed in a non-violent form of protest known as “civil disobedience” which Gandhi used years earlier in his protests against British control in India. On the other hand, Malcolm X believed in the use of any means necessary to reach his goals. The one area, which I find controversy in, is the similarities between the two. In fact, I would say that MLK and Malcolm X were complete opposites. In my opinion MLK was able to teach the world a lesson. He taught us that goals can be reached without violence. On the other hand, Malcolm X may have reached his goals but he created unnecessary violence along the way. Think about the constant conflict between Israel and Palestine today. Have suicide bombs, and attacks led to any resolution? The only thing that has happened is that the death toll has piled up. Unnecessary deaths occur and additional in my opinion is not needed. You may argue that even though MLK’s protests were peaceful, violence still occurred. The difference in my opinion is that the Hangings and attacks that African American’s faced were out of their control. It was the decision of those that they were protesting against to violently beat them and kill them. Malcolm X on the other hand was many times the initiator of violence. He brought violence to his protests and therefore created extra violence, which can be deemed to be unnecessary. At the end of the day I am in favor of the lessons which MLK taught as his decisions and outcomes can influence the decisions of future generations in times of conflict. Malcolm X’s idea of doing anything to reach his goals is not a good representation for future generations as it somewhat portrays the use of violence as a successful form of protest. Violence leads to death and our ability to solve situations peacefully will in my opinion better the world we live in today. Personally, I would lean more towards the idea that Malcolm X and MLK were completely different. They may have had some minor similarities but there overall views and actions seem to show two people who are polar opposites.

  4. Joe Godlew permalink
    March 16, 2011 4:46 PM

    Although I [obviously] agree that violence often isn’t the answer, I do take issue with the value judgement you make against Malcolm X’s violent methods. I realize this sounds like a provocative claim, but we must consider that violence is sometimes the only option in obtaining what one wants. A prime example of the efficacy of violence can be seen in Egypt. Citizens were unhappy with their political environment, and as such they protested and attempted to change it through nonviolent means. When this didn’t work, they resorted to acts of violence and civil disobedience toward their government. It was these acts that prompted the change they were seeking. Again, although I do agree nonviolence is almost always a better course of action (in a political environment at least), there are some instances where it is the only option available.

  5. williams permalink
    April 5, 2012 12:06 PM

    wats up out there

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