Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X Comparison Essay by Peter Pen

Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X
A comparative analysis of the attitudes and policies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the fight for civil rights.
# 109805 | 1,077 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2008

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This paper discusses how Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X both fought for the cause of civil rights, defended the same color of people, combated the same problem of racism, and paid for this resistance to black oppression with their lives, and yet held two completely different plans to bring an end to racial discrimination. The paper relates that their conflicting values in this regard are made apparent in Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and Malcolm X's "Message to the Grass Roots" and that these values lead to two completely different ideas about how to end racial discrimination. Through a comparison of the content of these two works, it attempts to show that Martin Luther King Jr. shows more promise as a leader than Malcolm X through his sound reasoning, flexibility, and a classier way of classification.

From the Paper:

"King, however, acknowledges that society is multi-faceted (which is not surprising for one who graduated with a sociology degree); he mentions five different people groups in his letter: the white supremacists, the white moderates, the complacent Negroes, the black nationalists, and the nonviolent abolitionists. Like Malcolm X, King also brings up upper-middle class blacks in a negative light, but he describes them as "complacent," not controlling or power-hungry. King goes onto mention the other end of the Negro community spectrum, the black nationalists led by Malcolm X, and rather than taking an attacking approach of his rival, he explains that X's violent cause is the result of the people's immense frustration with racial discrimination (King 520). "I have tried to stand between these two forces saying that we need not follow the 'do-nothing-ism' of the complacent or the hatred and despair of the black nationalist." (King 520) His proposal for responding to racism is to stay in between the two extremes of the Negro community by practicing nonviolent protest - to be firm, but not belligerent."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • King, Martin Luther. "Letter from the Birmingham Jail" 16 April. 1963. Ideas Across Time: Classical and Contemporary Readings for Composition. Ed. Igor Webb. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008, 512-525.
  • X, Malcolm. "Message to the Grassroots." 10 November 1963: 1-6. American Rhetoric. <>

Cite this Comparison Essay:

APA Format

Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X (2008, December 08) Retrieved July 07, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Malcolm X" 08 December 2008. Web. 07 July. 2020. <>