Assess the importance of Malcolm X in the fight for equality for Black Americans.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would make the argument that Malcolm X was very important in the fight for equality that Black Americans were waging in the 1960s.  Malcolm X spoke for a particular experience of African- Americans.  The discrimination and hurdles that were faced by Northern Urban African- Americans were fundamentally different than what was being encountered by Southern African- Americans.  I think that Dr. King's movement in the South was germane to this adversary.  Malcolm X articulated the experience of covert racism and how Northern discrimination fundamentally differed than its more overt counterpart in the South.  At the same time, Malcolm X's position of self- defense provided a very compelling pivot to many African- Americans that could not fathom Dr. King's message of nonviolent civic disobedience.  At the same time, Malcolm X's message was political.  Malcolm X understood that his position struck a chord of fear in White Americans.  Thus, his position was raised, if nothing else, to create a pivot of the cultural majority to embrace the initiatives of Dr. King.  In one of the best historical examples of "If you think I am bad, you better reason with the other guy," Malcolm X proved significant as White Americans, and policy makers, began to understand that if the propositions of Dr. King were not met and addressed, there were more defiant elements in the community that could be embraced.  This becomes an important element in the Civil Rights Struggle and one that cannot be overlooked.