Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X personify the argument regarding protest within the Civil rights Movement. The two charismatic leaders wanted civil and economic progress for the African-American community, and their differing perspectives on American society in the 1960s form the basis of their respective strategies they would enact in an attempt to combat the same evil-racism-for the same goal-freedom for African-Americans. (Cone 2) However, both leaders would change course during the 1960s, particularly near their assassinations. James Cone, professor of Theology at Union Theological Seminary and author of Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare, in the aforesaid text highlights the transformation the title figures undergo during their lives and careers. Despite the fact that the goals, methods, and reasonable expectations surrounding the careers of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were initially in contrast, a number of factors contributed to the eventual fusion of ideologies between the two civil rights leaders.
[...] This quote from King's 1963 speech demonstrates how easily the media could create a public image of him as a harmless, optimistic dreamer who preaches nonviolence and is no real throat to the status quo. Until the end of his life, King believed the aforementioned quote. The media was simultaneously contorting Malcolm X into the villain of the civil rights movement. He was presented to white America as dangerous, violent, racist, and a true threat if given too much power and support. [...]
[...] (Cone Before the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, there had been numerous noteworthy personalities, both black and white, who had argued in favor of black civil rights. William Lloyd Garrison was a white abolitionist from Boston who published an anti-slavery newspaper called The Liberator. Garrison was tarred and feathered for his views and nearly died. He was punished for promulgating his views in a city notorious for its liberalism some six hundred miles away from the nearest slave-operated plantation. [...]
[...] For years, King and his views stood firmly planted on the left end of the ideological spectrum, while Malcolm spent the majority of his career as a civil rights leader representing the right end of the spectrum. Malcolm hated martin's support of white liberals. He exposed their link to the urban, black, ghetto where drugs, poverty, crime, and bad housing are the defining characteristics. However, by the time the two leaders finally met in Washington, D.C. while attending the Senate's debate for the Civil Rights Bill in 1964, a number of factors had contributed to both leaders' ideologies becoming striking similar. [...]
[...] MLK abandoned his role as protecting America from the threat of black violence and “betrayed” the American government. Malcolm X died for his dismissal of the nation of Islam and his new vision of America as a colorblind society. Lastly, both leaders were overly charismatic in delivering their messages. This gave their followers a false illusion that King and Malcolm were “messiahs”, and they would save the black community on their own. Both men struggled with the gap between what they preached and what they accomplished. [...]
[...] The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.” Even after King accomplished major political feats, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, his ideology shifted toward Malcolm's around 1966. As he began to uncover the ulterior motives of the American government and discover he was one small part of a much larger agenda, King subsequently recognized his accomplishments were, perhaps, less significant than he initially believed. [...]
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