Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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Compare and contrast Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were both civil rights leaders during the 1960s. Both were deeply religious but had different ideologies about how equal rights should be attained. MLK focussed on nonviolent protest (e.g., bus boycotts, sit-ins, and marches), while Malcolm X believed in attaining equal rights by any means necessary.

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Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were near contemporaries, born four years apart in the 1920s, and both experienced the bitter racism of mid-twentieth-century America. Each died by gun assassination in the 1960s. Both were prominent, charismatic leaders of black movements, working for the empowerment of the black citizens of the United States.

A chief difference between the two was their attitude toward violence. King was completely dedicated to nonviolence, modeling his movement for civil rights on Gandhi's successful nonviolent movement to free India from British rule. King's followers, like Gandhi's, practiced satyagraha, or the power of nonviolent truth, training in not responding to provocation before being sent to resist. King firmly believed that violence on the part of blacks would only empower whites to feel justified in slaughtering them.

Malcolm X, in contrast, took a dimmer of view of whites than King, seeing them through the lens of the black nationalist Nation of Islam...

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