The late 1950s to mid-1960s was a time when violence and injustice had reached its peak. Many people were treated unfairly and the mood of the country overall was very gloomy and unhappy. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were both very well-known activists who fought to make things equal and right. Both activists shared similar beliefs against the racial injustice brought against African Americans by whites although their methods of achieving that equality were completely different. MLK, for instance, believed in approaching things in a peaceful, nonviolent fashion. However, most African Americans felt that his “peaceful approach” wasn’t enough to reach his, as well as their, goals and turned to Malcolm X, who believed that arming up against whites was a necessity in order to protect yourself. In other words, fight violence with violence.
In the speech, “Stride Toward Freedom,” MLK discusses the three different ways of dealing with oppression; acquiescence, resorting to violence, and the use of nonviolent resistance. Only supporting one of the three, nonviolence, King strongly disagrees with both acquiescence and using violence as a way of making peace. Acquiescence, when the oppressed resign to their oppression and just deal with it, giving up on it all together. MLK believes that is not the way out, claiming that by resigning “the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor.” (King 301) The second form of oppression, resorting to physical violence, completely goes against his views. In his speech, King argues that “violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all…immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.” (King 302) MLK believes that the very best form of oppression is that of nonviolence. Unlike acquiescence and violence, “through nonviolent resistance the Negro will be able to rise to the noble height of opposing the unjust system while loving the perpetrators of the system.” (King 302)
The selection, “Stride Toward Freedom,” describes Malcolm X’s point of view regarding oppression. Unlike Martin Luther King, he does believes in using violence when necessary. He believes that “in areas of this country where the government has proven its inability or its unwillingness to protect the lives and property of our people, then it’s only fair to expect us to do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves.” (X 305) However he quickly clarifies stating it “doesn’t mean that we should buy rifles and go out and initiate attacks indiscriminately against whites.” (X 305)