In Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Black people had two men at the forefront of racial equality, justice, and the civil rights movement. However, during their lifetime, both men only met each other face-to-face once and didn't speak much to each other.
Although both men fought for the same cause, their methods were different. While Dr. Luther King was more of an advocate of Integrationism who preached peaceful dialogue as the best form of advocacy, Malcolm X was a Black Nationalist activist who encouraged African Americans to fight racial oppression with whatever means – and weapons.
Both men criticized the approach of the other, and even though they seldom spoke about each other in public, it is evident that their ideologies were somewhat opposite. King had a dream that slow and steady his dream of racial segregation would end, but Malcolm felt no dream would come to pass if Blacks did stand and fight.
Neither King nor Malcolm credited the approach of the other, which they felt was doing more harm than good to the struggle for African American liberation. But did these men really have anything in common? Apart from their belief that racial injustice is evil, did they have any other similarities?
This article highlights the similarities between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King – that prove that both men were more alike than we really thought. Followers of these great men should understand that separating one from the other solely on approach is detrimental to the overall goal of pan-Africanism and Civil Rights activism.
6 Similarities Between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King
1. Support for Women's Education
Even though both men were miles apart regarding formal education, it is evident that they both supported women's education – and married educated women. Dr. King had a Ph.D. from Boston University, while Malcolm was a high school dropout.
Malcolm X married Betty Shabazz – an American educator and trained Nurse, while Martin Luther King married Coretta Scott King – an American educator and author. Their choices show similarities in their ideology that supports the education of women.
2. Huge Religious Influence
Both men were ministers and had significant religious influence during the cause of their lives and struggle. Dr. King was a preacher, and his advocacy was largely based on the preaching of love and tolerance as advised in the Holy Bible, which resonated with the large majority of Christians in America and across the world.
On the other hand, Malcolm X was a devoted Muslim minister himself, and he enjoyed massive support from the Islamic community, especially in his early stage. Many critics believe that the religious divide was a significant reason why Dr. King and Malcolm X could not come to terms with working together, despite sharing the same vision for African Americans and the Blacks in general.
3. Massive Support and Followership
One similarity that both men shared is that they both enjoyed massive support both locally and internationally. The level of support both men were able to attract was a threat to the government of the day, and if they had worked together and combined efforts, there is a lot that they would have accomplished together.
Individually, both Malcolm X and Dr. King were able to pull large crowds of people, mainly due to their charisma and oratory skills. As a result, people will come from far, wide, and near to attend their rallies and hear them first hand.
4. Civil Rights Advocates
What could be the most remarkable similarity between these great men other than the fact that they fought for the same cause? Today, they are regarded as two of the most prominent civil rights activists that ever lived because they were able to gather large crowds and gain substantial media promotions.
Also, when measured in terms of contribution, together, they were able to create perhaps the greatest awareness for civil rights and racial injustice more than many more civil rights activists put together. They will forever be remembered as two of the greatest civil rights activists that ever lived.
5. Death by Assassination
Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were fighting against the same enemy, and whether they had different approaches to the battle, the enemy knew the level of threats they posed. Unfortunately, all other means such as blackmail, sanctions, and propaganda failed to silence these powerful men.
The assassinations were the only option the shameless defenders of racial injustice could result to – and sadly so. On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated while delivering a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights, where he was delivering a speech to members of the Afro-American Unity. He was shot a total of 21 times.
Three years later, Dr. Martin Luter King Jr. was shot by a sniper at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at 6:01 p.m. CST. Although he was immediately rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, he died at about 7:05 p.m.
6. Both Men died at 39 Years Old
In what is still classified as a mystery, both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were assassinated at the age of 39. Malcolm X was born in 1925 and assassinated in 1965, while Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 and was assassinated in 1968. Both men died at 39-years-old.
Whether this was a coincidence or was orchestrated remains a mystery to date.