The civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King JR. in their respective arguments “The Ballot or the bullet” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” argue the injustice that is segregation. Malcolm X was a Muslim minister who advocated for the civil rights of the African American race that at the time was oppressed. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister who advocated for the same cause but with a peaceful approach. X used his influence to bring about much needed change in the American society.
MLK brought attention to the civil rights movement by using non-violent tactics to show the acist white people as the ones in the wrong. King argues that a peaceful resolution can be reached with the help of people that are willing to practice civil disobedience. Malcolm X asserts that although peaceful resolution would be preferred people should fight back of the occasion calls for it instead of being stepped all over. In the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” King uses allusions from the bible and historical events and people to argue his idea that segregation is unholy and wrong.
He writes, “Just as the prophets of the eighth century B. C. left their villages and carried heir ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid. ” He uses this to gain empathy from the clergymen the letter is written to. This illustrates that he is aware of his audience and is catering to their appeals.
The letter also includes MLK’s allusion to Socrates by saying “Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a ension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. ” This shows the clergymen that king is an educated man and knows what he is talking about.
This in turn explains that the King is fighting for a cause that he can defend using his intellect. In essence King is replying to the clergymen’s equest for the civil rights movement to wait for change by manipulating their beliefs and intellect to convince them of the cause and what it stands for. King, in his letter, also uses parallel structure repeatedly, whether it is to list grievances or to emphasize a point. This structure is shown when MLK asks, “Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?
Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? ” The indicted expands the use of parallelism to ask the audience a question. Further more the structure used archives its purpose of making the audience reflect on a single ideological question.
The same format could be observed when in the letter it is inquired, “Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? ” The above portrays a similar goal to the one before it ut this emphasizes unity and makes the audience feel like part of what is happening. King uses this to further his idea that the clergymen are a part of the movement and their participation or lack there of can be a deciding factor of the end and he wants them to feel the pain of his people and be there to help.
In summary the use of parallel structure with rhetorical questions was to gain momentum in the movement by convincing the clergymen, who are able to convince may people on the unjustness of segregation, that they shall no longer stay neutral and instead to join the fight. Malcolm X was another civil rights leader who pressed for the rights of African Americans and he used the accusing tone in his speech to denounce segregation and emphasize the many hardships African Americans had to face.
X spoke, “All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white man. ” Thus he is trying to implicate white men for the many wrongs that have been experienced by his people. He uses this to show the civil rights movement as a call to action against the oppressor. He also claims, “Whenever you are in a civil-rights struggle, whether you know it or not, you are confining yourself to the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam.
No one from the outside world can speak out in your behalf as long as your struggle is a civil- rights struggle. Civil rights comes within the domestic affairs of this country. All of our African brothers and our Asian brothers and our Latin-American brothers cannot open their mouths and interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States. And as long as it’s civil rights, this comes under the jurisdiction of Uncle Sam. ” This indicates that the problem that African Americans ace isn’t just an internal one and that it can be easily solved had it been taken to a higher level of authority.
X is arguing here that if the problem was globally announced and recognized it could gain more momentum and be more successful. In substance Malcolm X was aggravated by the unfair treatment of his people and their oppression and the speech captures his frustration making it compelling to an audience that has dealt with the issues on a personal level. The speech is also saturated in language that forms a sort of bond with the audience and X tries to from unity among each other to go against the common enemy. X in the beginning of his speech claimed, “Although l’m still a Muslim, l’m not here tonight to discuss my religion.
I’m not here to try and change your religion. I’m not here to argue or discuss anything that we differ about, because it’s time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to first see that we have the same problem, a common problem, a problem that will make you catch hell whether you’re a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Muslim, or a nationalist. ” The stated shows his willingness to put aside the differences the audience has with him and each other. He wants the movement to be about reedom of all that are oppressed and believes that unity is the key to success.
He also declares, “Not only did we give of our free labor, we gave of our blood. Every time he had a call to arms, we were the first ones in uniform. We died on every battlefield the white man had. We have made a greater sacrifice than anybody who’s standing up in America today. We have made a greater contribution and have collected less. Civil rights, for those of us whose philosophy is Black Nationalism, means: Give it to us now. Don’t wait for next year. Give it to us yesterday, and that’s not fast enough. This preaches Black Nationalism that is a movement that X advocates for.
His assertion further builds unity, as it is a way for Black people to reach the goal of freedom regardless of the internal differences. In short Malcolm X wants to build a united and powerful movement against the white government he is an avid adversary of. Malcolm X and MLK were prominent and powerful leaders in the civil rights era and had a similar cause and wanted a united movement. However there methods deferred because X was more aggressive and attacking while King was passive and trying to shame the people if the United hange.
Malcolm X was a man who wanted to put aside differences among his own people and the people of the world to make a change that can be long lasting. MLK on the States other hand was trying to fix the American system internally and by bringing the people up against the government. Regardless of their differences both were people who were influential in shaping the world into what we see and know today as they have brought forth civil rights legislature into fruition. The battles they fought allowed for many changes to be made that have given people the opportunities they were denied but deserved.