Malcolm X -the Radicals and the Moderates-

by Tomotaka Isono

What is one of the most famous Social Movements in the world and in history? I think some of you answer that is  African-American Civil Rights Movement by leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964. However most of Japanese don’t know actuary there is another person who tried to tackle racial discrimination in the same time. His name is Malcolm X. In contrast to nonviolent and peaceful leader, King, Malcolm X is famous for violent and aggressive leader. (Incidentally, the main characters of X-Men, Professor X and Magneto are designed in the motif of King and Malcolm X.)

If you want know more about his life, I recommend the movie “Malcolm X” in 1993, so on this report, I omit the history of Malcolm X.

Now, I sort out the differences between Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. King taught nonviolent resistance, and appealed racial integration that white and black will go hand in hand. He said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

On the other hand, Malcolm X accused of King’s ideas and actions as “weak in the knees”. He taught that white is devil, and mentioned that black can’t live peacefully with white.  He appealed complete racial segregation that black should establish new black original country in USA or in Africa. Moreover, he also spoke that in order to protect myself, black also have rights to use several ways like white. And one of his famous quotes is “Black is beautiful”.

Though both of them had the common views that blacks should stand up and call for own rights, however, their each ways and ideas were quite different. These different position between King and Malcolm X are called “the moderates” and “the radicals”. Generally speaking, we tend to regard the radicals as bad and wrong ways to tackle social issue. I think that violence action is wrong way, but there is a reason why the radicals are the radicals, we must consider about that. Giving one of the reasons, “freedom expression”. In the country allow the citizen to have rights to express, if people who want to do social movements publish free-paper, adress the audiences, they will not be arrested or be prohibited. If the country don’t allow freedom of express, people only have way to become more violent in order to be reported truly by foreign media. I think freedom of express make the radicals less violent.


Noboru Uehara, 1994, King and Malcolm X, Koudansha-gendaishinsho

Spike Lee, 1992, Malcolm X (Movie), Warner Brothers

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