In sharp contrast to mainstream figures in the civil rights movement such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X believed that African Americans could never achieve equality in a white-majority society. Whereas many civil rights campaigners advocated assimilation, Malcolm X argued instead for the complete separation of the races. In his worldview, there was no place for the kind of racial integration advocated by King in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Ultimately, Malcolm X wanted Black Americans to return to the homelands of their African ancestors. Only then, he argued, would they be able to enjoy the equality denied to them over centuries by white Americans.
Given the enormous logistical difficulties involved in such a plan, however, Malcolm X recognized that it could not be achieved immediately. In the meantime, then, he would advocate strongly for the establishment of an all-Black country within the geographical boundaries of the United States.
Only a separate nation for African Americans, he believed, would give Black people the ability to improve themselves and advance together as a single people. In turn, this would give them the equality with white people that had been systematically denied them ever since they were first brought to the United States as slaves.