Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X Were Civil Rights Leaders in the Late 1

Article excerpt

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were civil rights leaders in the late 1950s and early 1960s who worked to allow blacks the same freedoms that whites enjoyed.

At that time, some towns in the South denied black Americans the right to vote or forced them to pay a tax if they tried to vote. Other injustices included inadequate schools, restrictions on where blacks could sit on a bus and oppressive limits on the way blacks lived.

King, a fourth-generation Baptist minister, spoke of creating positive social change through nonviolent means.

"At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love," he said.

King directed the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, which successfully brought an end to the policy of forcing black Americans to defer to whites when selecting seats on buses. That success led to more nonviolent protests and marches that brought national awareness to the unfair treatment of blacks.

King's leadership and support drove Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964.

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, was a Muslim minister and a leader in the Nation of Islam organization who also fought for equal rights for black Americans. He believed the nonviolent message was acting too slow, or not at all, and encouraged his followers to use any tactic -- even violence -- to achieve equality.

Malcolm X's father was murdered by white extremists, his childhood home was burned in an unresolved arson and he was subjected to life in foster care and juvenile homes. As a member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X gained recognition worldwide as a black leader.

He admired King, sent him letters and invited him to participate in Nation of Islam meetings. …