Martin Luther King Jr and Malcom X were the principal leaders in the sixties fighting for civil rights: the basic freedom of citizens in a democratic society. They had some similarities: both were black, uncontested leaders, strong personalities with tremendous public-speaking ability, devoted to the same cause and struggling for the same goals: the end of racism, discrimination, exploitation and humiliation. .
King and X had so many differences that popular misinformation or misinterpretation resulted in the conclusion that they were enemies. .
In 1963, after being arrested for leading protests in Alabama, King wrote his LETTER FROM A BIRMINGHAM JAIL in which he stated the clarifications of the goals of the Civil Rights Movement. A year after that, X spoke to African-Americans in many US cities in the speech entitled THE BALLOT OR THE BULLET in which he stated the role of politics and economics in oppressing blacks. Through these documents and their lives we can see quite a few similarities with many differences between them. .
Here we have the story of two black men struggling with the same problem but with different philosophies, views, beliefs, attitudes and actions that led them to the same destiny.
Although they shared the same goals, their different methods to achieve that seemed to lie in their opposite past.
X had emerged from an oppressed black community in the north. When he was six years old, after his father's assassination by white racists, he was sent to a foster home and subsequently to a reform school. He dreamed of becoming a lawyer but he lost interest and dropped out of school at the age of fifteen when his favorite teacher told him that it was "no realistic goal for a nigger". He joined the underworld, became acquainted with hoodlums, pimps and thieves, turned to a life of crime dealing drugs and robbery. At the age of twenty, convicted of burglary, he was sentenced to ten years and remained in prison until he was twenty-seven.