Taking Sides: Malcolm and Martin During the Civil Rights Movement

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Although Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. wanted equality and justice for their community, their visions were like two sides of the same coin. Unlike King, Malcolm X didn’t believe in racial integration or support the civil rights movement facts.

In today’s Kennedys and King update, let’s explore these two political figures and where their paths met and diverged.

Parallels Near the End

Malcolm X flipped the script completely after returning from his pilgrimage to Mecca. After endorsing separation and promoting self-defense rhetoric his entire life, the activist started promoting brotherhood regardless of one’s race. This change was inspired by the integration, peace, and harmony between pilgrims in Mecca.

He publicly recognized wanting the same thing as Dr. King: freedom. However, that was hardly the case for most of the minister’s life.

Martin’s Interpretation of Freedom

While King and Malcolm X wanted to free their community from the shackles of their brutal past, their approach was as different as day and night. King supported non-violence.

He advocated for equal rights for all of humanity but never used unprovoked violence as the means to achieve them. The bills signed into law thanks to King’s contributions supported integration, not further segregation and isolation of the African American community.

King only hired armed security detail when his Montgomery house was firebombed. In other words, he took up arms to safeguard the Civil Rights Movement, not to add an element of violence to it.

Malcolm X

Malcolm’s Interpretation of Freedom

On the flip side, you have Malcolm X, who, unlike King, preferred street corners over churches. Embittered by the cruel way his elders were abducted from their homes, he denied being an American for most of his life. He even changed his last name to “X”, effectively removing the last name given to his forefathers by their masters.

Unlike King, Malcolm’s allegiance to the Nation of Islam made him seek a separate, not united, society for his people. While he recommended self-defense over unprovoked police violence, his motto was “by any means necessary,” which one could interpret as a defense to any threat, even if that wasn’t his intention.

The Road from Scorn to Admiration

Malcolm X wasn’t all praise for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the onset. He openly mocked and criticized the Civil Rights Movement, even going as far as to call the historic March on Washington a “farce” and “circus.”

However, that all changed after the pilgrimage to Mecca and the ensuing estrangement with the Nation of Islam. Learn how Malcolm X perceived the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King’s role before he joined the political assassinations of the 1960s on Kennedys and King. Delve deeper into the events before and after the malcolm x assassination and see how you can help us uncover the truth behind the political murders of that decade.

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