The Fight for the Dream

A comparision of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X

The Rise

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19th, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska to his mother Louise, a homemaker, and his father Earl, a preacher who was an activist for the civil rights movement. Because of this, Malcolm has seen the hate from white supremacists his entire life. Racism followed his family, even after trying to move away from the violence. Shortly after the Littles relocated in 1929, "a racist mob set their house on fire, and the town's all-white emergency responders refused to do anything. "The white police and firemen came and stood around watching as the house burned to the ground," Malcolm X later remembered." ( A few years later, his father was found murdered, thought to be killed by white supremacists.

Malcolm X grew up with family and friends as his mother was sent to a mental institution as she was unable to cope with his fathers death. Though Malcolm excelled in school and was even elected class president, he dropped out because after an interaction with a teacher who told him he could never be a lawyer, he understood that his education was not worth pursuing if it would be unfair. After this, X went to go live with his sister in Boston and fell into a life of drugs and crime. After being arrested on charges of Larceny in 1946, he spent ten years in jail where he read books, converted to the Nation of Islam, and abandoned his slave name "Little" to the surname "X".

After X's time in prison, he became a speaker for the civil rights movement, working closely with the leader of the nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad. Together, they tried to expand the movement of the Nation of Islam and of the Black Power Movement.

Malcolm X was a passionate orator and urged the black people to end racism, "By any means necessary." he was a strong believer in the idea that there was no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. "Malcolm X had emerged as a leading voice of a radicalized wing of the Civil Rights Movement, presenting an alternative to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of a racially integrated society achieved by peaceful means." (

X later broke with the Nation of Islam and was later murdered by three members of the Nation of Islam on February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a very simmilar upbringing to Malcolm X. He was born on January 15th 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia to a schoolteacher, Alberta Williams King and Martin Luther King Sr., a Pastor. King was a gifted student all his life and attended segregated public schools until the age of 15, when he was admitted to Morehouse College to study Medicine and Law.

After graduating in 1953 and earning a doctorate in systematic theology, King married, had children, and then became a pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1953. In 1956, after the Montgomery Boycott, MLK Jr. was selected as the peaceful protest's leader and spokesman. Heavily influenced by Gandhi, King became the symbol of the organized nonviolent resistance to the entire nation.

King was admired for his powerful capability of inspiring a crowd through his speeches. His words grew so popular and worked with so many organizations that in August of 1964, King helped organized the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The March was intended to be, " a peaceful political rally designed to shed light on the injustices African Americans continued to face across the country. Held on August 28 and attended by some 200,000 to 300,000 participants, the event is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the history of the American civil rights movement and a factor in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." (

King used his power to broaden the scope of his activism to combat the war in Vietnam, and issues among st all races in America. In Memphis on April 4th, 1968, King was there to give a speech to support a sanitation workers strike when he was fatally shot while standing on the balcony of his motel. His death prompted mass riots and a national day of mourning declared by President Johnson himself.

The Sword

Malcolm X Speech: 'Stop Singing, Start Swinging!'
Malcolm X - The House Negro and the Field Negro

The Pen

"We Shall Overcome" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King - Immortal Vietnam speech
MLK's "How Long, Not Long" Speech - Archival Footage
Martin Luther King's Last Speech: "I've Been To The Mountaintop"
Martin Luther King The Three Evils of Society
Martin Luther King | "I Have A Dream" Speech

The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword

Malcolm X was a believer in standing up for yourself not just verbally, but physically. He famously stated, "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." The injustices of man was not to be tolerated in his opinion. Malcolm X inspired people to take charge and fight for what's right.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s approach was more passive. He was a strong believer that remaining passive in everything made more of an impact than violence. He said of this, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend." Martin Luther King Jr.'s approach impacted a large mass of people in his time and in future times to step up and speak out about what's unjust.

"Although Martin Luther King Jr. was known as a civil rights leader and Malcolm X as a black radical, both men became advocates for oppressed people all over the globe." ( While both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X had a huge impact on society during the time of civil rights, one made a bigger wave than the other.

All in all, the pen prevails over the sword. There is a reason why MLK Jr's "I Have a Dream Speech" is so iconic. Peace is the most appealing ideal to the mass.

Malcolm X: Life and Death
Malcolm X - Mini Bio
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Mini Bio
Martin Luther King Jr. - A 5 Minute Biography

Crystal Linger

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