Compare and Contrast Essay on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  872 Words
Date:  2022-07-01


Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were two prominent personalities in the American history who advocated for the rights of the blacks people. They did not want the blacks to be treated differently based on the color of their skin. The variation between two resonates to how they went about achieving their aims and how these aims differed. They advocated for what they believed in numerous ways. Martin Luther King (MLK) grew up in a middle class set up family and was knowledgeable whereas Malcolm X grew up in a disadvantaged environment that could not facilitate schooling. King was always against violence and always stood his ground and never reacted with violence to his critics. He strictly followed the Christin faith. Malcolm X, on the other hand, was a Muslim who strictly adhered to the Muslim teachings and was famous for his line "by all means possible." To him, physical retaliation was the best option, and whatever had to be achieved called for both violent and non-violent alternatives. Nevertheless, he later changed his approach and became nonviolent. There are indeed numerous differences between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in their mission of advocating for the rights of the black people.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Martin had a firm belief in non-violence approach and wanted to gain self-respect, hard work and effective leadership in the society. He had faith in peaceful protest to make long-term changes and achieve the aims of the civil rights movement. During the Montgomery Bus service boycott, MLK ensured that there was no violence and this helped them look less brutal as compared to the violence that the white showed. He facilitated the boycott which was a significant step forward civil rights. He managed non-violent campaigns through his skills that included data collection, negotiation, self-sanitization, direct action and passive resistance and what he termed as "weapon of love." Martin blended ideal from different cultural groups to send his message to his followers. He had an image of an activist and a leader which was influenced by the strong personal values and licit ethical norms. Through his excellence in leadership and education background, he applied numerous metaphors. Martin Luther King Jr intellectually utilized his words and his choice of words would appeal to all in the sense that there was no bias.

Malcolm X understood that violent approaches were the best for achieving social equity. He was skeptical of the whites and was willing to do anything "by any means" to achieve equality for the black people. To him, equality was difficult since the whites had "no moral conscious" and in many occasions blamed them for the horrible conditions that the black people lived. "The community where you live will get poorer and poorer, and the community where you spend your money will get richer." He wanted equality but understood that achieving this meant living separately, investing in the black community. Malcolm X motivated his supporters to rebel against the whites and in many parts knew that the non-violence strategy advocated for was a trick to keep the blacks oppressed. He was angry at the racism and told his supporters through his letter to rise up and fight against the white oppressors. He used a direct and to the point language which passed across all levels of society. His message was casual and easy to understand.

In the speech "Ballot or Bullet," Malcolm X and a letter from Martin, there is a sense whereby both identified similar issues. According to Malcolm X, the gospel showed no concern for the oppression of the black people, critiquing the approach used by King to advocate for social justice. Similarly, King believed that the government deprived the citizen the voting rights and this was a major concern. They both had issues with either the government or the church in the fight for civil rights. Malcolm wanted the campaign to be reciprocal. King, on the other hand, stated, "Can you accept blows without reacting?" The approaches used by the two were opposing.


In a nutshell, not all of their aspirations was different. They both desired self-knowledge and respect in the society as a basis for unity. They aspired to see a united nation where both blacks and white were treated equally. However, they used different approaches. Malcolm X appeared as the extremist while Martin Luther King Jr as the peacemaker. The two were both determined to make things better for the black society, and both died for this cause indicating the extent to which they went to ensure social justice. MLK seems to be a more prominent activist for civil rights as compared to Malcolm X. this is because he was a peaceful leader and was always nonviolent in handling things, and wanted all regardless of the race to come together and create equality. Malcolm X's approach was to segregate the blacks and whites. As a result of MLK's approach, he was respected across the globe by many races.


"Malcolm X: The Ballot or the Bullet". 2001. Edchange.Org.

King Jr, Martin Luther. "Letter from Birmingham jail." New York: Harper and Row, 1984.

Myers, Walter Dean. Malcolm X: By any means necessary. New York: Scholastic, 1993.

Cite this page

Compare and Contrast Essay on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.. (2022, Jul 01). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism