Do you think that the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s would have had the same impact if they had been led by Malcom X  instead of Martin Luther King?Do you think that the Civil Rights...

Do you think that the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s would have had the same impact if they had been led by Malcom X  instead of Martin Luther King?

Do you think that the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s would have had the same impact if they had been led by Malcom X  instead of Martin Luther King?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There's no chance that Malcolm X could have led the Civil Rights Movement to as much success as King did.  The reason for this is that, like it or not, the movement had to be acceptable to a large number of white people in order to have any real chance at success.  Malcolm could never (during the period up through 1964) have appealed to a large segment of the white population.  He was too angry and too nationalistic to be in any way acceptable to the majority of white people.  Had Malcolm led the movement, it would have turned white Americans off and the movement would ot have succeeded.

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

While it is difficult to play the "what if" game in historical events, all things being the same, I think that the movement would have been stunted had Malcolm X led it as opposed to Dr. King.  This is in no way as statement against Malcolm X.  It merely points out that Malcolm X did not intend to be the leader of a national Civil Rights Movement that Dr. King intended to be.  Malcolm X spoke for an experience of a particular group, a specific narrative.  This voice was not one that articulated a condition that could be fully grasped by the vast cultural majority of America.  On the other hand, Dr. King spoke for an experience that encompassed White and Black Americans.  His vision of "the dream" was one where Christianity called for everyone to transcend their condition and reach a higher spiritual plane.  In this light, the Civil Rights Movement was more of a humanistic call for spiritual elevation.  At the same time, King's message of nonviolence was one that was more readily accepted by White society, whereas Malcolm's message of self- defense was a bit too complex for the times that called for clarity and simplicity in bringing about Civil Rights.  I would say that for these reasons Dr. King was the "chosen" one to bring about change, something that Malcolm X readily admitted White America was not prepared to embrace.

truthseekah's profile pic

truthseekah | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

Dr. King was one that embraced the white community rather than demonized them.  He spoke of peace and embodied peace in his demonstrations.  While I cannot condemn the feeling of hatred stemmed from oppression, giving a message of peace and love is certainly much more approachable.  Malcolm X gave a lot of whites and easy out with his combative speach.  At least that is my perception.

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