On In the 1960s there were two main groups working towards justice for black people. These were the SCLC and the black power movement. The SCLC was a Christian movement and therefore used peaceful protest. The Black Power movement had a lot of resentment towards white people and often used violent methods. Different African Americans disagreed amongst themselves about the best way to gain civil rights both the movements had very different methods, which I think is the most important reason. They also disagreed on the methods and ideologies. The two main leaders of the movements were Martin Luther King and Martin X.
They both had very different backgrounds which effected their views. Martin Luther King was brought up in a privileged background, and his family was respected in the black community. His father was a Baptist minister, which means he was born into a Christian family, which would affect his attitudes towards how to gain civil rights. Malcom X on the other hand was born into a poorer family who were targeted by white racists. His father was found dead, and was probably murdered by white people and his mother was committed to a mental hospital after she gradually lost her mind .
This built up resentment towards white people . They also had very different experiences of education. Martin Luther King got good grades and gained university entrance, which was a big achievement for black people in this time. He also gained a PHD. Contrastingly, Malcom X, although he had shown promise at an early age, experienced racism at school. On telling his teacher that he wanted to be a teacher, he replied that that was "no job for a nigger. " This is one reason why the two leaders attitudes were so different. Malcom X was treated very badly by white people and this effected his methods in gaining civil rights.
One reason that black people disagreed is that both of the leaders used very different methods. Martin Luther king used peaceful protest, as he strongly believed that that was the best way to gain the moral high ground, whilst drawing government attention to their campaign. The Montgomery bus boycott was a success, as it was non violent, yet draw mass attention to their campaign. He also used sit ins and marches, such as the Selma to Montgomery march. Sit ins often involved thousands of people and spread to over 100 cities. These methods depended on changing the legal system through the government.
Malcom X on the other hand believed in violent methods, and thought that Martin Luther kings methods were too slow. He used violent militant methods such as riots. The Los Angeles riots 1965, which he had predicted showed Martin Luther Kings ignorance, as they occurred after the Voting Act was passed, and undermined Kings non violent policies. However, he never took violent action himself, and some condoned them to frighten authorities into action He was also a very strong speaker, but unlike King, was blatant, and formidable.
Support gained by each leader was influenced by their methods and attitudes. Martin Luther King would welcome anyone, and was even supported by white people. He was supported by the NAACP, who also put pressure on the government through non violent methods and by southern Christians, who agreed with his nonviolent methods, and supported his strong Christian attitudes. One reason that there was a disagreement over which method was best to gain civil rights was that both the leaders had different groups of people supporting them.
Malcom X was only supported by black people, as his attitudes could often be seen as racist by white people. He wouldn't have welcomed support from white people. A lot of his supporters were younger people who were ready for change and had more progressive ideas. They also thought that Martin Luther Kings methods were too slow, and turned to Malcom X for a radical change. The Black Panthers, a group that used violent protest to gain civil rights also supported Malcom X. They were influenced by his ideas and they are evident in their ten point programme, which includes freedom and education.
Poorer Black people would also support Malcom X, as they faced racism every day and were tired of waiting for the government to change its laws. Martin Luther Kings successes were that he made changes in the law to gain civil rights. He put pressure on the government which led to the Voting Acts right of . In addition to this he organised highly influential protests such as sit ins, and the bus boycott which put pressure on the government. In addition to this, he gained university entrance, which was a great achievement for black men at this time.
On the other hand, Malcom X restored pride in black people by encouraging them to have pride in their own race, and not to strive to leave equally to white people, but to live as black people. This encouraged black people to listen to different music and wear different clothes, and to celebrate their culture. However, Martin Luther King's methods took a long time to work, and impatient idealists often turned to Malcom X for a faster solution. Black people often faced a lot of racism in school and in housing issues, and his neglecting this made him unpopular.
Similarly, Malcom X's methods were not also successful. In celebrating black peoples individuality, and being openly racist towards white people, he alienated them. As it was white people who were in positions of power, it made him make any real changes in the law or government. Because both methods had their successes and failures, amy people had different views about which was the best one to gain civil rights. As the two leaders were almost opposite in their ideals and methods, I believe they would be more successful if they had cooperated.
However, due to their differences in background, they did not have the same ideas about how the situation should be dealt with. Malcom X's hard background made him bitter towards white people, and this made him adopt violent methods and want the situation changed quickly. Contrastingly, Martin Luther King's privileged background gave him faith in the legal system, and his devout Christianity taught him to " turn the other cheek". However, it is these differences that I believe would have made them successful if they were to cooperate, as they both had a lot to offer the campaign.
In conclusion I believe that the main reason that blacks disagreed on which was the best method to gain civil rights was the difference in the leaders methods. This is because people with different attitudes and lifestyles were divided between which was the better method to use. Some black people wanted a quick fix to the problem and had a lot of bitterness towards white people, and so they followed Malcom X. Black people who were stronger Christians and had had better educations and lives often followed Martin Luther King.