Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are two of the mostprominent civil rights campaigners. Blacks in the U.S. benefited fromthe leadership of both men. Martin Luther King Jnr was a SouthernBaptist minister while Malcolm X had converted into Islam (Carson,Lapsansky-Werner, and Nash, 2014). Notably, both leaders haddifferent styles of campaigning for civil rights. Martin Luther KingJnr preferred the use of nonviolent means. On the other hand, MalcolmX was convinced that freedom had to be attained by all meansnecessary. He encouraged many of his followers to embrace violentmeans. Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X only met briefly whilelegislators were debating about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Thelegislation outlawed any instances of discrimination against workersbased on sex, color, religion, or national origin. Although both menwere committed to similar goals, they had conflicting viewpoints. Inthis paper, I will present a fictional dialogue between Malcolm X andMartin Luther Jnr at the signing of the Civil Rights Act.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Thanks for creating the time to meet with me. I understandyou have a busy schedule.
Malcolm X: You’rewelcome. I have been meaning to arrange this meeting for a long timebut my schedule has been quite cramped.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I can relate to your situation. The past few months havebeen very busy.
Malcolm X: Indeedthey have. I would like to congratulate you on the passage of theCivil Rights Act of 1964. I am glad that the legislation has made itpossible for people to acquire employment regardless of race, color,religion, sex, or national origin.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Thank you. But really, it has been the result of team work.One person could not have moved the entire Senate to pass the bill.
Malcolm X: Ithink you have allowed the whites to use you for their own agenda.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Well, what do you mean?
Malcolm X: I wastold you met with President Lyndon Johnson at the White House.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Yeah, we met to discuss issues concerning the civil rightsfor blacks in the U.S.
Malcolm X: It isnot proper to hold friendly discussions with whites since they cannotbe trusted.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Hatred and separation cannot create positive outcomes forthe society.
Malcolm X: Youhave sacrificed fellow blacks while trying to achieve equality.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Self-sacrifice and mutual understanding are what the nationneeds to move on from past atrocities.
Malcolm X: Blacksshould fight for their rights and achieve equality through any meansnecessary.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I do not approve of using violence under any circumstances.
Malcolm X: Yourinsistence on peaceful demonstrations exposes more blacks to violenceand death.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I strongly disagree. If anything, self-defense throughviolent means only creates greater animosity.
Malcolm X:Retaliation will discourage the whites from using excessive force.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I rather think that violence begets more violence.
Malcolm X: That’s easy for you to say.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Why is that?
Malcolm X: I havebeen subjected to great acts of violence at the hands of the whites.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: In what way?
Malcolm X: Myhouse was fire-bombed by the whites and everything was consumed inthe fire.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I am sorry to hear that.
Malcolm X: Infact, I am extremely fortunate that no one in my family was hurt.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: But this illustrates my point. Maybe the whites would neverhave made you a target if you had not pursued violent means.
Malcolm X: Butall this occurred before my involvement in civil rights campaigns.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: In that case, you have to rise above the adversity.
Malcolm X: Isuffered great losses due to the fire. So I just cannot let it go.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I meant you should not be made to act like the barbaricwhites. You are much stronger than they are.
Malcolm X: Iwished I could believe that.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: You can. Have you not seen the progress we have made withthe enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Malcolm X: Giveme a break! That accomplishment owes to my efforts.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: What do you mean?
Malcolm X: Thewhites were scared of battling with me if the laws were not signed.So they passed the bill to avoid facing my wrath.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: It is not right to incite blacks to pursue violence.
Malcolm X:Remember that the whites picked this fight with us. We are merelyreturning the favor.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Please focus on the future prospects for blacks in the U.S.
Malcolm X: All Ican see is mores strife and bloodshed.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: The Voting Rights Act will be passed soon. That will openup new frontiers for African Americans.
Malcolm X: Whathappened to the Jews during Holocaust?
Martin LutherKing Jnr: They were slaughtered by the merciless Nazis. I don’tthink that case applies in our situation.
Malcolm X: Itsurely does. Oppressive regimes cannot be toppled by merediscussions. People have to be ready to fight back and claim theirrights.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I am sorry, but my faith as a Baptist minister does notsupport the use of violent means.
Malcolm X: Whitesdo not care about religion.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I thought Islam advocates for peace and reconciliation.
Malcolm X: Italso advocates for perfect justice.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Having an eye for an eye will only create widespreadblindness.
Malcolm X: Wehave suffered for more than 300 years. It is time to claim ourfreedom.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Indeed we are. But there is no need to portray the blacksas violent and non-compromising.
Malcolm X: Thereis need to depict African Americans as strong and assertive. The daysof submissiveness and subjection are over.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: I guess we will have to agree to disagree.
Malcolm X: Iguess so too. Thanks for coming.
Martin LutherKing Jnr: Thanks for the invitation. Stay safe.
Malcolm X: Iwill, and you too.
Carson, Claybone, Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner, and Gary B. Nash. TheStruggle for Freedom: Since 1865 Volume 2: A History of AfricanAmericans. New York, NY: Pearson, 2014.
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