In this speech, you can definitely see the difference in methods and strategy between Malcolm X and Dr. King. Dr. King understood that for African-Americans to get their freedom and equal rights under law, they would have to work with members of the majority population. Meaning Caucasian-Americans, to get those civil rights laws passed. Whereas Malcolm X, at least early in the early 1960s, saw that as treasonous to work with what he would call the ‘White man’. That African-Americans should already have their freedom and equal rights. And that the United States Government should just give those things to the African-American community. Dr. King was smart enough as the brilliant leader that he was to know that those things weren’t going to just be given to his community. Especially by racist Southerners in Congress and at the local and state levels in Southern states. That they would have to fight and work to get them and go over the bigots heads and work with non-racists in the Caucasian-American community.
The March on Washington, was very successful, despite what Malcolm X said. Because in that speech, Dr. King lays out the whole vision of the civil rights movement. An America, where his children and all children aren’t judge by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Where all men and women are equal under law. And not treated better, or worst simply because of their color, or race. That was not good enough for Malcolm X and his supporters and the broader Black Power movement and the New Left that emerged in the late 1960s. That was against the War in Vietnam, but the American capitalist economic system and the power structure in general. The broader Black Power movement and New-Left were revolutionaries. They didn’t believe in working with others to get what they want. But that they should just simply take what they want.
Malcolm X, was part of the Black Power movement. Not the socialist elements of that movement. Because he wasn’t a Socialist, but the revolutionary elements of that movement. That said, “African-Americans, should have their freedom now and we aren’t going to wait around, or try to get laws passed giving us what we should’ve already had in the first place.” And I’ve blogged this before, but Dr. King and Malcolm X, represent not just two wings of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but two era’s as well. Dr. King, represents the 1960s, when these laws were passed that he had a lot to do with the passage of those laws. Because he understood like a good politician does, that you have to work with others to get laws passed and get new policies. Malcolm X, represents the post-civil rights movement. The vision for how African-Americans not only have equal rights under law, but an economic vision for how the community can succeed in America. Built around education, economic development and personal responsibility in the community.