Numerous leaders have made tremendous impacts throughout the history of the world. In this essay, I will compare and contrast the lives and philosophies of civil rights activists Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were prominent leaders during the Civil Rights Era. They both had very different philosophies and methods on the racial emancipation of African-Americans. Despite their differences, they shared a common goal to live in a society with equal opportunity and a world free of segregation.
Many of the ideas and beliefs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X stem from their upbringing and their religious beliefs. Dr. King grew up in a privileged home while Malcolm X did not. Both of their fathers were Baptist preachers, but the experiences in each one of their lives shaped the way they went about making changes within the American society.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in a privileged home with both of his parents. He graduated from high school at the age of fifteen and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Morehouse College (Bennett). Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a very powerful man in the African American community. His messages were spiritual and his main concern was going about making changes with peace. Dr. King was a transformational leader who positively influenced his followers to bring about change to various conflicting situations. He transformed and encouraged his group of followers to challenge the status quo in hopes of making a significant change in the world. Although Dr. King had many supporters, especially poor African Americans, he struggled to gain the support of the working, middle-class African Americans. In the book From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice, Martin Luther King, Jr. says “I’m tired of preachers riding around in big cars, living in fine homes. If you can’t stand with your people, you are not fit to be a leader” (Jackson, 2007, p. 158). What I took from this statement was that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was fed up with the bourgeois African Americans thinking that they were superior to the poor African Americans. At the end of the day, we are all one race and we must stand together to obtain freedom and equality in this white American society. We should not stick up our noses at our own people or look down upon them just because they are poor. The middle and upper class African Americans think that because they have money and live next to white people, they do not put themselves in the same category with other inferior African Americans. It is very sad that even today we still look down upon our own people instead of bringing one another up so that we all can rise together.
Malcolm X grew up in an underprivileged household and had a tough childhood. Malcolm X was a young child when his father was killed by the Black Legionnaires (Cone). His mother was left to raise eight...