Seeking to Understand the Complexity of the Fight for Civil Rights

This is the second in a series of article on the struggle for civil rights in the U.S.

There is a tendency in the white community to deify Dr. King and demonize Malcolm X. Rather than to recognize that each, along with thousands of others, contributed their own distinct part to the struggle for human rights and civil rights in the U.S. That struggle is far from over and rather than seek to divide, all supporters must seek to find common ground.

Take the test below to see if you can determine who said what. Some of these eight quotes came from Dr. King and others came from Malcolm X.

  1. And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola … Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy … Wonder Bread … Tell them not to buy Hart’s bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  2. When you live in a poor neighborhood, you are living in an area where you have poor schools. When you have poor schools, you have poor teachers. When you have poor teachers, you get a poor education. When you get a poor education, you can only work in a poor-paying job. And that poor-paying job enables you to live again in a poor neighborhood. So, it’s a very vicious cycle. Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  3. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these.” Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  4. If I take the wages of everyone here, individually it means nothing, but collectively all of the earning power or wages that you earned in one week would make me wealthy. And if I could collect it for a year, I’d be rich beyond dreams. Now, when you see this, and then you stop and consider the wages that were kept back from millions of Black people, not for one year but for 310 years, you’ll see how this country got so rich so fast. And what made the economy as strong as it is today. And all that slave labor that was amassed in unpaid wages, is due someone today. And you’re not giving us anything when we say that it’s time to collect. Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  5. [W]e are saying that something is wrong … with capitalism. … There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a Democratic Socialism. Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  6. The political, the economic philosophy of Black Nationalism only means that we have to become involved in a program of re-education, to educate our people into the importance of knowing that when you spend your dollar out of the community in which you live, the community in which you spend your money becomes richer and richer; the community out of which you take your money becomes poorer and poorer. Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  7. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and of other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together … you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others … the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order. Dr. King or Malcolm X?
  8. But not only that, we’ve got to strengthen black institutions. I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank — we want a “bank-in” movement … You have six or seven black insurance companies…. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an “insurance-in.” Dr. King or Malcolm X?

Answers in the next post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *