The civil rights movement has been quintessential to the growth of America for centuries. In the 1960s, the movement for the equality of African Americans met a revolutionary milestone with the introduction to the philosophical positions of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Dr. King’s position, favoring non-violent direct action, is likely to produce more progress, in regards to voting rights, than Malcolm X’s philosophy, Black Nationalism. This is the cause of Dr. King’s ideas of a “beloved community” as an effect of integration, creative tension, and civilized influence.
During this era, Malcolm X was the chief spokesman of the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim organization led by Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm X argued that America was too racist in its institutions and people to offer hope to blacks, and the solution proposed by the Nation of Islam was to separate the white and the black American to allow change to occur. In contrast with Malcolm X’s black separatism, Martin Luther King, Jr. offered a more civilized solution what he considered “the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest” as a means of building an integrated community of blacks and whites in America. He rejected what he called “the hatred and despair of the black nationalist,” believing that the fate of black Americans was “tied up with America’s destiny.” With this statement, Dr. King makes it evident that the only way the black American were to ever see a change in voting rights in the foreseeable future, was if the American society changed. There was no way that separating whites and blacks would be able to make an agreeable change to the unequal voting rights already established by segregation, because it would only worsen the situation by rejecting integration – from integration comes equality – thus exhibiting that Dr. King’s position would produce more progress.
Furthermore, Dr. King’s action, from his philosophical position of non-violent direct action, was based around the idea of creative tension. Creative tension is the principle that a negative situation, like an argument, ultimately gives rise to a better outcome. It is evident that Dr. King uses this tactic along side his philosophy, especially in his decision to be taken to jail in Birmingham. In Birmingham, he was accused of nothing more than stirring up trouble. However, the civil rights movement created tensions everywhere and especially anywhere Dr. King went. But creative tension is something that actually brings about change and in this case, since he arrived in Birmingham, he was adding to the tension between races, segregation, the government, police, etc., but it was to the point that it would eventually lead to his vision of change. Dr. King’s use of creative tension to progress African American voting right’s in this era, shows how his philosophical position is more influential than Malcolm X’s, Black Nationalism — which called for the use of negative situations to separate the races to cause positive change.
In addition, Dr. King’s philosophy of non-violent protests influenced American’s in that time period because of the civilized manner of how he spread his ideas. Through his several boycotts of major industries, marches on segregated areas of the nation, and attribute of great public speaking, Dr. King captured the hearts of not only people of color, but also those of the Caucasian descent. He was able to mold the stances that people in positions of power took, including President Kennedy. His efforts gave the Civil Rights Movement national and worldwide attention, causing the prominent passage of the Civil Rights Act and allowing buses, schools, and other public places to be desegregated. Having such powerful enforcement, Dr. King had a major influence in changes pressured onto the Congress to alter the 15th amendment; to make voting right’s equal. Such characteristics exhibit how Dr. King’s philosophical position on non-violent direct action is more progressive than Malcolm X’s stance on a militaristic separation, which seemed like a doubtful route to bring success for much of the American society.
In conclusion, Martin Luther King, Jr. altered the route of the civil rights movement in America, and it is clear that his philosophical position of non-violent direct action will be more likely to produce more progress than the idea of the black nationalist, derived by Malcolm X. Dr. King’s ideas, especially integration, are more realistic, thus favorable, to most Americans, causing a larger influence on the change of African American voting right’s. Both of these civil rights leaders have been put on a pedestal in present day America and they will be remembered in the hearts of people of colored and non-colored races for the rest of history.
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