Essay on Malcolm X

Submitted By lindsayymillerr
Words: 1188
Pages: 5

Malcolm X has been an influential member of the Civil Rights movement. Up until his death, he has been seen as the frontrunner for American justice and advocate for African American Civil Rights. Although initially seen as a more radical figure, Malcolm X’s views began to align with a more peaceful and less political vision of how equality could be achieved for African Americans.
It was clear that Malcolm X and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had differences that were inconsolable. As seen in source A, a speech from Malcolm X states that, “This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody.” Clearly Malcolm here displays a grasping of the concept of a revolution, as he was in the midst of a great change occurring in the United States. The initial lines of his speech, “It’s the ballot or the bullet” indicate that there was no middle ground with Malcolm X. He believed that if things were not to be peaceful, they would end in bloodshed. Although not a direct call for violence, this excerpt reveals that Malcolm was willing to achieve equality within America’s unique revolution, whether or not it required some bloodshed. In an article where MLK reminisced over the legacy of Malcolm X, he stated, “I know that I have often wished that he would talk less of violence, because violence is not going to solve our problem. And, in this litany of articulating the despair of the Negro without offering any positive, creative alternative, I feel that Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice.” (Source F) It is apparent to see that Malcolm’s views were seen by some as too extreme. The fact that Malcolm in his early years as an activist held such open views towards violence reflects his schism from non-violent ways of achieving justice. MLK elaborates on his feelings about nonviolence even more, when he states, “You are resisting, but you come to see that tactically as well as morally it is better to be nonviolent. Even if one didn't want to deal with the moral question, it would just be impractical for the Negro to talk about making his struggle violent.” From Rev. King’s stance, it is easy to note how starkly different Malcolm X was from the nonviolent movement. His early beliefs of violence and ballot or bullet mindset categorized him as an articulate, yet did not allow him to gather support from nonviolent leaders in terms of his search for justice.
Not only did Malcolm X early on believe violence was justifiable, he felt that the white man was a direct plight towards the black man and his success. Many of these beliefs coincided with a transferring of hate. The hatred of being black and hating one’s position and transferring it towards the white man. A magazine article on Malcolm X encapsulates this feeling of a shift in black pride. It explains, “'inferior.'" They could never forget that they were black, nor could they ever ease their alienation from the white world. Malcolm X and the Muslims, instead of telling followers to suppress this painful sense of difference, urged them to turn it upside down: to convert it from shame to pride.” What was even more present in Malcolm's shift of thought, was “that of the change from "Negro" to "black" and the famous slogan, "The white man is the devil." It was as if by magic, overnight, countless blacks turned their world inside out, training their hatred away from themselves and toward white society.” (Source E) This stance taken by Malcolm came in direct contrast towards Rev. King’s message in the 1950’s and 60’s. Malcolm’s inherent distrust of white Americans came as a result of a troubled youth, as KKK members burned down his house and when his father was murdered. He became focused on advocation in direct contrast towards white Americans, as he called for an open justification of self defense and violence in the…