Essay, Research Paper
A Drive for Justice
?I have a dream, that one day little black boys and black girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sister and brother.? (de Kay 75)?Martin Luther King Jr.
During the past century, the United States of America has wresled with the problem of inequality between black and white people. Two influential people who helped to combat racism and the inequality of man were Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X had two differentiated approaches to accomplish the same things for black. Both King and Malcolm X started their own organizations, organized rallies, and both gave speeches, but, their beliefs and theories were extreme opposites. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi and peaceful ways through speeches and rallies. Martin Luther King Jr. was also a man of peace and freedom and was the leader of the Christian Leadership Conference. Although Malcolm X also did rallies and speeches, he adopted and studied the teachings of the black Muslim leader, Elijah Muhammad, which led him to result in violence, trying to get blacks the same equal rights as whites. He went from place to place trying to develop racial pride in his black listeners by recognizing the suffering whites caused by blacks. Even though some people may believe in one what while others may believe in others, Martin Luther King Jr.?s philosophy of peaceful ways and positive reasoning so blacks could get the same rights as everyone was much more effective compared to Malcolm X?s philosophy of aggression.
Many people thought that Malcolm X?s philosophies became more effective than those of Martin Luther King Jr. because he tried to join whites and blacks togther. But, because of his radical and violent ways, King was by far a way better leader. Malcolm X was a man who supported violence in getting equal rights for black citizens. To do this, he assisted the national Muslim leader, Elijah Muhammad by sharing the Black Muslim beliefs throughout the United States. Malcolm X started many Muslim groups and worked hard to develop racial pride in his black listeners by recognizing the suffering whites caused by blacks. With the Black Muslims, Malcolm X practiced a vigorous self-defense against white violence. He also urged blacks to live separately from whites and prevented them from attaining their freedom. He affected his followers so much that when his followers would see white people they would often harass or hurt the white people. Through his travels in the Middle East and Africa, he began to realize and change his views regarding potential brotherhood between black and white Americans and rejected the view that all whites were devils. (Harris 99) He thought that one day his religion could unite people of all races. To do this he formed his own group, The Organization of Afro-American Unity. Many people, both black and whites admired his tireless efforts to build pride in blacks and whoever shared his dreams that someday everyone would be joined in brotherhood. Malcolm X was admired by many people because of his drive to unite the blacks and whites as one, but many people also condemned his as a hypocrite and traitor because of his change in views. Malcolm X was a man not sure in his views, so later in his life he resorted to peace and loving ways. (de Kay 16) On February 21, 1965, while speaking in a rally in Harlem, he was shot and killed.
Coming from a different perspective, Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most powerful African American leaders the world has ever had, dilligently worked to unite the two races as one by peaceful and nonviolent methods. Devoting his life to fight for the right of every black American and also disliked the public, King defeated the odds and led blacks into rallies, marches and many other nonviolent protest to get blacks on the right track for equal rights. (Hakim 102) His non-violent attitude is what tood a stand in history.
Martin Luther King Jr., after studying under the teachings of Mohandes K. Gandhi, learned about campaigns of passive, nonviolent resistance called ?passive resistance?. (de Kay 26,27) An example of this was that Gandhi too was living under the same cruel and unfair laws. The way they fought these laws was that they broke them; when the police threw them in jail, they didn?t fight back. Sooner or later, jail cells would fill up and when there was no room left, they would have to change the laws. Through dedication and hard work, King forund out he could accomplish the same thing as Gandhi without hurting or killing anyone.
Later in 1955, King udes the same methods as Gandhi. He started a boycott of the segregated city buses because of a lady named Rosa Parks; this was his first actions toward equality. Parks didn?t want to leave her seat so they arrested her and threw her in jail. Every black heard of this and was furious. Soon, the word boycott spread really fast. The only problem was that it would only work if no one rode on the buses. The other problem was how would everyone find out about the boycott. Late that night King stayed up to make fliers and give it away in parts of the city where black people lived. Even though they couldn?t reach everybody, luckily a newspaper editor heard about the boycott and wrote an article about it on the front page of the newspaper. Later, he was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association where he got involved in speeches and rallies to fight the Jim Crow laws. (de Kay 12) The Jim Crow laws were special laws created by whites so blacks could not receive the same rights. Even though King was treated violently, he responded in peace, no matter what happened to him. He said, ?if you have weapones, take them home. We must meet our white brothers? hate with love.? (de Kay 48)
After black Americans had beaten the Jim Crow laws, they wondered if they could fight other laws concerning segregation. King and black ministers met to form a new group to fight segregation. The group was called southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC. King was elected president and to encourage blacks to support nonviolence. He told them to act ?calm and with dignity?. (de Kay 49) He told them not to obey the unfair laws; they much have the courage to refuse and sooner or later the with leaders would get tired and change the laws. Since this was the way Gandhi won, he believed in it. King also believed in sit-ins, this was when people who were not allowed to eat in a certain restaurant sat down and waited to be served, even though they knew they would not be served they just sat there. Those people got harassed and taunted but because of their courage to refuse, white leaders gave in and again blacks had won another battle. (Harris 78)
Lather after the sit-ins came the ?freedom rides?. This was sit-ins on buses traveling from state to state where segregation still existed. Martin Luther King Jr. did not win in Albany, but he learned something very important. He couldn?t fight a city with a couple of people he needed an army. This was when he took a huge step toward the massive march in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. People, both blacks and whited marched in numbers over 250,000 people. (de Kay 73) When they reached, many black leaders gave speeches, but King gave a speech that America will never forget. With meaningful power he said, ?I have a dream.? Those word shook the nation causing an emotional breakdown of tears. Many people flet that there was hope for racial unity. It was a day t;hat would never be forgotten by anyone who was there.
In October of 1964, the government of Norway declared that Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He took back to America the medal and 54,000 dollars; he gave that money to the civil rights groups. When receiving the medal, he declared that the prize was not just for him??it was for all men who loved peace and brotherhood.? (de Kay 83)
On april 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee, while sitting on the porch with his friends. On April 7, the president delcared a day of national mourning. People all over the world wept; people of all races and colors came to see the burial of a great man. Now, January 15 is a national holiday.
Martin Luther King Jr., a man of impressive moral presence who devoted his life to fight for the rights of the poor, disadvantaged, and racially oppressed in the United States. (Hakim 48) After studying the teaching of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. sought a way to obtain equal rights without hurting or killing anyone. Kinowing this, he took into consideration the peaceful rallies and speeches which led him to believe that peace and love among our brothers would combat the racism. Martin Luther King, not only believed in equal rights for everyone, but most importantly, he had a dream. His dream was that one day whites and blacks could live as one in happiness. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize was not important to King. To him, justice was important. (de Kay 104) He called himself a ?drum major for justice?. (de Kay 104)
De Kay, James. Meet Martin Luther King, Jr.. New York; Random House, 1969.
Harris, Jacqueline L. Martin Luther King, Jr. New York; Watts, 1983.
Hakim, Rita. And The March Toward Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. Connecticut: The Millbrook Press, 1991.