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Was Martin Luther King really that important in the civil rights movement? watch

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    Just wanted to know some opinions as some historians believe he was more talk than action
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    Yes.
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    I've always preferred Malcolm X due to the fact that he was clearly more of an action over talking kinda guy... MLK also cheated on his wife.
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    Well, I studied the civil rights movement in history last year, so while I'm not an expert, I do know what I'm talking about. I believe that he was important as he provided a focal point and raised morale and support; for a cause like that, you need an identifiable leader, someone who people can look at as an example - through being a focal point, he was important as a unifying force and as a public figure.
    However, he wasn't the only important person - people like Thurgood Marshall and Ella Baker also played a massive role. Change doesn't happen with just one person. You also need the grassroots movement, the ordinary people who take part in the bus boycott or the march to washington - it would have been nothing without the grassroots support. Or in fact the presidential support - JFK and Johnson were instrumental in getting the legislation through (due to a certain extent to JFKs assassination)

    So in conclusion, yes he was important, but you can't underestimate the role of the other people involved in the movement.
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    (Original post by BillyMarsh)
    I've always preferred Malcolm X due to the fact that he was clearly more of an action over talking kinda guy... MLK also cheated on his wife.
    yeah im quite disillusioned by learning of his affair, its kind of ignored when people talk about what a great person he is (but i guess its irrelevant in the bigger scheme of things)
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    He was an important figurehead for the movement,but the idea that he was the sole person responsible for the fight for Civil Rights like many suggst is a bit hyperbolic.
    He was the figurehead that encompassed a huge movement which was a collective mobilisation from the grassroots.
    Governments like to overplay the role of the individual,giving the idea that only special individuals which come around every century make real differences,but really its the collective effort which makes changes,and an institutional change seen from the effects of the Civil Rights Movement scares the **** out of any government,not just the US
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    (Original post by BillyMarsh)
    I've always preferred Malcolm X due to the fact that he was clearly more of an action over talking kinda guy... MLK also cheated on his wife.
    Well, yes, he did cheat on his wife, but it didn't interfere with his work in the civil rights movement. It means that he didn't have as much integrity as he could have done, particularly as a Baptist minister, but I don't think it makes him any less significant as a historical figure. I'm not condoning adultery, or excusing it, just saying that when you're assessing someone's historical contribution, unless their private life made a significant different to how they acted, it shouldn't really come into it, apart from as a matter of interest. For example, Hitler was apparently a teetotal vegetarian. Doesn't make him any less of a fascist dictator.
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    yes.
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    (Original post by Krakatoa)
    He was an important figurehead for the movement,but the idea that he was the sole person responsible for the fight for Civil Rights like many suggst is a bit hyperbolic.
    He was the figurehead that encompassed a huge movement which was a collective mobilisation from the grassroots.
    Governments like to overplay the role of the individual,giving the idea that only special individuals which come around every century make real differences,but really its the collective effort which makes changes,and an institutional change seen from the effects of the Civil Rights Movement scares the **** out of any government,not just the US
    Agree with this completely
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    Malcolm X believed in Black Power, i.e. total separation of White and Black people. He wasn't a civil rights activist, he just wanted separation, and didn't believe that white people could ever believe in equality (perhaps a justified opinion at the time, he must have experienced significant racism and violence during his lifetime..).

    MLK was one of the "civil rights" leaders, and although he wasn't the first to do so, orchestrated a lot of the peaceful protesting. The progress he made was slow.. but it was still progress. If anything the fact that his supporters didn't retaliate to any of the violence they suffered was enough to earn them the sympathy of many white people, including JFK.
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    Malcom X contributed more IMO but the civil rights movement compromised more than just two people.
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    he did get children to join in with some of his marches (as young as 6) knowing fully well that they would be hurt by mobs of anti-black protesters
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    (Original post by milkytea)
    Malcolm X believed in Black Power, i.e. total separation of White and Black people. He wasn't a civil rights activist, he just wanted separation, and didn't believe that white people could ever believe in equality (perhaps a justified opinion at the time, he must have experienced significant racism and violence during his lifetime..).

    MLK was one of the "civil rights" leaders, and although he wasn't the first to do so, orchestrated a lot of the peaceful protesting. The progress he made was slow.. but it was still progress. If anything the fact that his supporters didn't retaliate to any of the violence they suffered was enough to earn them the sympathy of many white people, including JFK.
    Yeah I agree with what you say about Malcolm X - he was (until he went on Hajj) just as racist as the white supremacists.
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    (Original post by milkytea)
    Malcolm X believed in Black Power, i.e. total separation of White and Black people. He wasn't a civil rights activist, he just wanted separation, and didn't believe that white people could ever believe in equality (perhaps a justified opinion at the time, he must have experienced significant racism and violence during his lifetime..)
    I think the role Malcolm X played was quite detrimental in terms of the Nation of Islam's goals,but in terms of the general Civil Rights Movement it helped alot.
    People saw the movement gain momentum,change was happening,and people saw this man of extreme values of Malcolm X,which were the views many Black people agreed with,and he was in complete contrast to the means and end goals of MLK.
    So I think the disapproval of his extreme views led to an acceptance that MLK's goals,which were viable and something which was attainable,so I think X brought alot more support to the peaceful mainstream section of the movement.
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    (Original post by milkytea)
    Malcolm X believed in Black Power, i.e. total separation of White and Black people. He wasn't a civil rights activist, he just wanted separation, and didn't believe that white people could ever believe in equality (perhaps a justified opinion at the time, he must have experienced significant racism and violence during his lifetime..).

    MLK was one of the "civil rights" leaders, and although he wasn't the first to do so, orchestrated a lot of the peaceful protesting. The progress he made was slow.. but it was still progress. If anything the fact that his supporters didn't retaliate to any of the violence they suffered was enough to earn them the sympathy of many white people, including JFK.
    No, he was in the Nation of Islam, a black KKK. Then, he turned into a "proper" muslim and believed in equality and changed his views. That's why he got killed.
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    Martin Luther King is (was) probably the single most influential figure in the American Civil Right movement. He was able to influence the white majority into passing civil rights laws, something that Malcolm X would never do.
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    (Original post by BillyMarsh)
    I've always preferred Malcolm X due to the fact that he was clearly more of an action over talking kinda guy... MLK also cheated on his wife.
    Well, Malcolm X was a drug dealer, armed robber and burglar, if we're going for character assessments.
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    Really great points, guys, thanks, this helps me a lot with my coursework!
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    Not very in the sense that, with an overwhelmingly white electorate, the CRA was passed with white votes because white culture decided in favour of it. Yankees were ultimately much more important than Afro-Americans.

    But that is also precisely why King was significant. He was a presentable, articulate, and peaceable black man who appealed to the white audience. Black supremacist groups like the Nation of Islam may have placed more direct pressure on the government but ultimately the government didn't need pressuring because it already wanted to pass the CRA. King persuaded ordinary whites to support it doing that, while people like the Nation of Islam alienated ordinary whites.
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