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Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were black leaders who took very different approaches to the problems faced by blacks in America. One result has been that King has traditionally had a better reputation among the general white population than has Malcolm X. King's methods were based on non-violence, while Malcolm X was perceived as advocating violence, at least at certain points in his career. King was a minister, while Malcolm X had been in prison. King advocated a policy of integration and the inclusion of whites in the struggle for black equality, while Malcolm X called for separatism at times and in any case advocated blacks taking control of their own destiny without the participation of whites. These are some of the reasons why King was more accepted in white society than was Malcolm X.

Malcolm X grew up in a world where being black was a handicap, and indeed where being black was denigrated. At the time, this implanted in his mind a subtle sense of shame at his blackness, something he could not have articulated but which influenced his development as a human being and his choices as a young man. He tried to be as white as he could be both culturally and physically, a route which led him into criminal behavior that only emphasized his lack of a positive identity in the white world. Like many other young black men of his generation, he fell into a certain stereotypical mold imposed on him by the view white society had of black people. As he emphasizes in the story of his life, he acted out that stereotype and put on the mask society had made for him. He wore his hair straight because white people had straight hair, making him ashamed of his natural hair. He dressed like other young men of his generation and behaved as they did. He preferred women who were lighter in color because white society had made him ashamed of his color. He fell into crime as an easy way to make a living, and in any case society asked not...

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Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:11, April 21, 2019, from