Martin Luther King Jr. And Malcolm X: Different Ways, Common Goal

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In the African American community, there are many battles set up to destroy them. Poverty, poor schooling, and lack of community activities are a hindrance to the growing process in African American children’s lives since well before this generation. In recent history, we see that most children who come out of these neighborhoods don’t have the success stories that others have as votersasas because of these setbacks and disadvantages. The question that comes to mind is why are the same discriminatory and unequal boundaries still in play? Why is the Dream that Dr.King dreamed of on August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington still not a reality? To truthfully give equality in America equal opportunity must first be given to everyone not just to those who can afford it. If this happens then history will not repeat itself and the dream Dr. King had not too long ago will finally be fulfilled.

The Civil Rights Movement took place from approximately 1952-1964 regarding the discrimination of African American people, especially in the South. Things like the regular lynching of African American boys. Children of color were not allowed to attend school with white children who were their age. And while African Americans were allowed to vote it was made impossible for them to vote. Whites put in a literacy test to enable people to get their voter registration cards. A student that was voted in the schools that were segregated had lower levels of education. White schools at the front of this march were Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist preacher from Atlanta who preached belief in nonviolent protest to get wanted from the government. In their acceptance speech when receiving his Nobel Peace Prize “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” He along with many people led this movement to end this discrimination. Leaders like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman, and many others were very vocal

In the advancement of African Americans. This leader fought so that things could finally change. This directly correlates with today’s problems because there are no longer lynchings but shootings of our black boys. The feeling of the government being against one type of person. The common discriminatory incident that has been occurring since before the colonization of America has been the oppression of those who were American/of African descent. Through the 300 years of slavery to the heavy oppression of African Americans after 'freeing' them. Even now when we have a Black president, there is still a question of whether the hate ever ended.

Dr. Martin Luther was very vocal in the Civil Rights Movement as a Non-violent preacher. The reason I think that the best way was non-violence was that violence only provokes more violence. If we are asking them to stop oppressing and hurting why turn around and do the same to them? One of the things that Dr.King was the right for African Americans to vote in the south. The southern people were using everything to prevent blacks from voting. Threats, violence other horses were made to go against those that had blacks to vote. The problem I think was the biggest was that the cops and government were never there to help. In Birmingham we see even the cops using force against African Americans who wanted to march for a better life. One particular march that happened was a march from Selma to Montgomery on March 17, 1965. This march was again led by Martin Luther King Jr. to march to register Blacks to vote. Selma, Alabama was one of the most desegregated places in the south. One of the reasons was because the then Alabama Governor, Governor George Wallace, was notoriously against the idea of desegregation. At the time it was recorded that 300 out of 15,000 African American people were registered to vote. The first attempt to march was on March 7. About 600 people started the march but didn't get far because state troopers were waiting to confront them with whips sticks and other weapons there to oppose them. Dr. King tried to lead the march again on March 9th but was again opposed by state troopers making a barrier. Finally, on March 21, some 2000 people set out to march from Selma to Montgomery. The difference would be that this time the marches had the protection of the government. President Lyndon Johnson had backed this march even going as far as to say that he for the march on national television. This fight was not only fought by the people it took the collective efforts of the entire population. This shows us that the problem of poverty and poor school systems will only be fixed by the collective efforts of the government and citizens. The government has to agree with change before anything will be changed.

While on a march in Birmingham, Alabama, one of the most segregated City's in the South, Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested by Birmingham Police Officers. They believe that King and other marches were there just coming to start trouble. While in jail several clergymen criticized Dr.King and Southern Christian Leadership Conference saying basically that the only reason they wanted to march was to cause an uproar and that they were essentially trouble makers. Dr.King responded by sending a 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'. King wrote in this letter that Injustice anywhere was injustice everywhere. That’s just because things had gotten better in some places that injustice has a chance in other places. Therefore injustice will never be obsolete if it still exists in some places. The purpose of this letter was to prove to oppose people that the marches are not for play. The point of the marches was to get the point across that equality was needed. These marches made it visible to the blind eye the things that were happening in the South. You saw videos of black girls and boys, who quietly protested getting sprayed beaten, and hurt by police officers and servicemen who are supposed to be there to protect them. It raises the question for me now: If we see what's going on in the poverty-stricken streets why do anything to fix them? In the civil rights movement, we saw everyone turn a blind eye to what was going on in the south. The same thing is happening in today’s world. Everyone wants everything to fix so badly but no one is looking at what’s going on. So can change be in the hands of one person or does it lie in the hands of everyone to make that change?

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During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King wasn’t the only leader who had a very strong influence on the movement. Malcolm Little, born in Omaha, Nebraska, was the son of Baptist minister Earl Little who was an avid supporter of Black Nationalist Marvin Garvey. The Little family was threatened with death and had to relocate twice before Malcolm turned four years old. In 1929, the Little family Michigan home was burned down. Two years later Earl Littles body was found on top of the city's trolley tracks. The death made Malcolm's mother, Louise Norton Little, go into a mental fit and was eventually committed to a mental institution. Malcolm and his sibling were thrown into foster care and orphanages. As a teen Malcolm was caught stealing and was charged with burglary. He was sentenced to ten years in prison but only serve a seven years sentence with parole. While in prison Malcolm was visited by Reginald who preached the teaching of the Muslim faith. Malcolm began to be interested in the teacher of the Nation of Islam, under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad. Elijah's teaching was that white supremacy was directly made to go against the black man. That they(white people) were keeping African Americans from being successful by keeping them from power, governmental status, owning businesses, and other things of leadership. With great success in NOI Elijah appointed Malcolm X, Whose name was changed from Little to signify that he dropped his tribal name, to the national leader of the nation of Islam.

Malcolm is credited with the accomplishment of raising the number 1963 of 500 members of NOI to 30,000 members. Malcolm X's teaching was that whatever they do to you, you do to them. In essence, Malcolm X was the complete opposite of Dr.King. He thought t at if we got beat or killed and would beat and kill them. The idea of an eye for an eye was something that Dr. King was trying to prevent from happening. The rise of Malcolm X also came with the rise of another group that followed the teaching of Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad. This group would be known as the Black Panthers. The black panthers believed like Malcolm it was time to stand up and fight back for equality. They also had the idea of having more role models come from our communities. They had social events for children in the neighborhood to come out and play and be safe. In my opinion, it was like nurturing our people while fighting everyone else. The group was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale and their official name was the Black Panthers Party of Self Defense. One of these acts of self-defense happened in October 1967 when Huey was arrested for Killing an Oakland Cop. This also started the “free Huey’ movement. The Black Panther started in October of 1966. Malcolm X unfortunately was not able to see this group to fruition because on February 21, 1965, in Washington Heights, New York City, NY he was assassinated while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom. The end of Malcolm’s life started in the era of new civil rights that are still in existence now.

While Malcolm and the Nation of Islam’s numbers grew Martin Luther King Jr. still dreamed of peaceful marching and everyone joining together as one to solve the problems of inequality in America at the time this would bring him to what is one of the influential and biggest marches and most memorable speeches of the Civil Rights movement. On August 28, 1965, Dr. King led some 250,000 people on a march through Washington D.C for jobs and against discrimination. People from every background came to march. They marched to Lincoln Memorial where Dr. King gave the infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. This speech would go down as a building block for civil rights laws and followers of the movement. Martin wrote about the idea of our Nation coming together as one. In his he says

“In a sense, we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the 'unalienable Rights' of 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'

This quote from Martin's I have a dream has shown us that promises that have been made to Black people have not been given to us. The rights that were supposed to be given to every man are somehow not given to us. From the Civil Rights Movement and the efforts of Martin Luther King and many others in the movement, the lives of Americans got immensely better. After we see black people in leadership, black people coming out to vote in record numbers, and black education advancing more and more every day. Unfortunately, the great Dr.King did not see his vision carried out. By 1968 Dr. King got tired of marching, and the constant threat of being killed. Talk of another march in Washington D.C to speak on the widespread problems that Dr.King still had. On April 3, he told supporters, 'I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.' The next day, while standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King Jr. was struck by a sniper's bullet.

Dr. King left a Legacy strong enough to get anyone going any discrimination to use. He was the face of strength and dedication. He and others showed young children that leaders can look just like you and me. Regular people who just wanted change. The legacy that equality is not to give to only some but to all. One of the best lessons that King taught was that if injustice exists anywhere then there is injustice everywhere. I believe this is very important because we see poverty children being killed and not receiving attention we think that could never be us. But the simple fact is that if we can let injustice happen to others there is a chance that it could happen to us. We see black boys being arrested and killed every day for little to nothing and never think that one day that could be one of our children. The dream that King dreamed of on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C will only be fulfilled if we as a country live it out. Only if we fight for it. It can’t be done by one person alone it takes effort and duties. We see in the time of the Civil Rights Movement the emergence of many leaders. Because people were tired of the same things so they didn’t sit and complain they got up and took action.

In summation, the fight of Martin Luther King Jr. is still being fought today. The advancement of black people has been great and is still growing today. Yet still, the problems that we face today are great within our country. The solution is not for the generation before us. The responsibility lies within the generation now. We have the responsibility of stepping up to the plate and making sure that we live out the dream that Dr.King had. The dream is that God will bring us to the promised land. The dream is that we stand strong together and be free. 

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