Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement

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Compare and contrast Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

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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,...

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Martin Luther King and Malcolm X both were champions of the African-American cause and fought for equal rights for this historically oppressed community. They both had the greatest impact on the civil rights movement during the 1960s. There were a number of differences between them, none so significant as their approach to achieve the desired results.

MLK was born in a middle-class Christian family and was well educated, while Malcolm X was born in a poor Muslim family and was hardly schooled. MLK was a proponent of non-violence and wanted blacks and whites to exist and work together. Malcolm X, on the other hand, was a supporter of "by any means necessary". He was thus a supporter of using violence, if need be, to achieve his objectives. He was also distrustful of whites and wanted the blacks to support each other. 

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