Black history month celebrates different tactics, same goal: civil rights

Andres Moreno and Alexis Arellano

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February is Black History month; it’s when influential and articulate activists of civil rights for the African American people — such as Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) and Malcom X (X) — are recognized for their different approaches to achieving equality.

According to africanamericanhistorymonth.gov, “(many institutions are) paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.” One important member of this civil rights movement — MLK was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of colored people. In early December of 1955, “(he accepted the) leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States.” (nobelprize.org). In contrast to MLK’s nonviolent protesting methods, Malcolm X had contrary views. Many accused Malcolm of preaching hate and violence, making claims of the U.S being the harshest in terms of crime against African Americans. History.com stated that X, “challenged the mainstream civil-rights movement and the nonviolent pursuit of integration and he urged followers to defend themselves against white aggression “by any means necessary.” In a survey conducted of 100 Morton East students, 81 said they side with the tactics of MLK and the others side with the tactics of X in their approach of the civil rights movement.  

“I did have knowledge on the MLK and the civil rights movement, although I did hear about Malcolm X, I believe the approach of nonviolence that MLK had was better because I personally think nonviolence is the most ideological approach to achieve something even though the issue of civil rights in the 1960s was a very extreme and fragile topic to touch on.” Senior Adrian Sanchez said. 

At Morton East, if you enroll in AP Language and Composition, you learn about the eloquent and articulate activists or rhetoricians that strategized with a rhetorical speech in order to achieve a certain goal or portray a message on a broader scope, whether it’d be a very subtle or direct message.  

“Back then there was so much oppression and segregation because of the harsh supremacist beliefs Caucasians had. I just think because Caucasians were so negligent to accept African-Americans as equal there had to be some sort of forceful and radical movement like Malcolm x displayed,” senior Jade Fiscal said. 

It really depends on the character of an individual to side with issues such as the civil rights –sometimes it just takes a small fraction of a group to encourage others to join a cause. Many feared being hurt or incarcerated, but others feel pride in standing for what they believe even if caused pain through the process. 

“I certainly believe it took dignity and courage for African-Americans to stand for what was their unalienable rights, but also it took courage for some Caucasians to stand alongside them in protest because they also believed in the equality for all man. Not to forget that Caucasians who supported the African-Americans were viewed absurdly,” Morton East alumnus Jose Moreno said. 

It’s remarkably overwhelming to realize two African-Americans of courage whom well embodied the entity of the civil rights movement.  The single and only time MLK and X met, was March 26, 1964, on Capitol Hill, attending Senate debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On this day MLK stated, “He (Malcolm X) is very articulate, but I totally disagree with many of his political and philosophical views – at least insofar as I understand where he now stands.” 

“Well, it’s not surprising that MLK felt X’s views were incorrect. Sometimes there is a need for two different perspectives on an issue to combat that that oppression and inequality from different angles,” sophomore Giovanni Velasquez said. 

Certainly, we can’t forget those in history that came before MLK and X who inspired them to preach and pursue the message of equality. For these people play an equally important role in the achievement of the civil rights movement. 

“I can’t believe how over the years the power of unity amongst minority groups who are oppressed have been capable of achieving great things that possibly seemed unfeasible. It’s great to see more educated people on their rights nowadays. It really does instill power in the mind and makes them more willing to speak on the wrongs of society,” junior Anthony Medina said.

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