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Civil Disobedience Essay

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Civil Disobedience; Violence, or Nonviolence?
One of the founding principles of the United States of America is the concept of Civil
Disobedience. The idea that the people of the nation have the indisputable right to challenge
their society and their government has always pervaded through the decades. This
concept was never more important than during the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Martin
Luther King Jr and Malcolm X were the foremost leaders in the African-American Rights
Movement and it was their interpretations of civil disobedience that drove the movement
forward. Malcolm X took a more brutal and direct method when he enacted his right to civil
disobedience, while Martin Luther King chose the route of nonviolence. While both these routes
had a great impact, only one was objectively more effective and that is the road of nonviolent
disobedience
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr had similar goals in terms of their movements.
They both wanted voting rights for black Americans and they both fought tirelessly for the
humane and equal treatment of their people in society. The two men were both highly religious
and believed God was on their side in the fight for equality. “ When we open our eyes today and
look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who has enjoyed the
fruits of Americanism. We see America through the eyes of someone who has been a victim of
Americanism.” (Malcolm X, 1964). Malcolm X’s concept of “Americanism” made a huge
impact on his followers who had grown up under the idea of an American Dream. These
speeches were some of the most moving and impassioned in history and the impact of both men
is felt deeply in today's culture and society.
There are many contrasts between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, the most obvious
would be their tactics for protest. Malcolm X was famous for his anger-inciting speeches that
preached force and violence. Martin Luther King on the other hand, went down in history as a
pioneer in nonviolent protest. His words are quoted as some of the most prevalent and important
in the fight against violence. His method of peaceful resistance proved to be much more effective
than Malcolm X’s method of forcing the situation with violent protest. “Nonviolent direct action
seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension, that a community that constantly
refused to negotiate is forced to confront the situation.” (Martin Luther King Jr, 1963). This was
not the strategy Malcolm X wanted to employ in his movement, He wanted to beat the white
government into submission in order to obtain equality.
Civil disobedience has manifested in many ways over the course of America’s existence.
The country itself began when a small group of organized colonists fought back the juggernaut
of Great Britain. Martin Luther King’s method of nonviolence was founded on the practices and
teachings of Mahatma Gandhi in India. Together, the two of them created the basis for decades
of work done by new generations. Malcolm X on the other hand, is now considered almost a
villain, trying to incite violence and extremism in the movement. While nonviolence is the more
effective method, Malcolm X deserves credit for his work in the fight for equality as well,
despite its flaws. It is likely that Martin Luther King's strategies for protest will be utilized again

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Civil Disobedience; Violence, or Nonviolence? One of the founding principles of the United States of America is the concept of Civil Disobedience. The idea that the people of the nation have the indisputable right to challenge their society and their government has always pervaded through the decades. This concept was never more important than during the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X were the foremost leaders in the African-American Rights Movement and it was their interpretations of civil disobedience that drove the movement forward. Malcolm X ...
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