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Compare and Contrast: “i Have a Dream” and “god’s Judgment of White America”

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Stephanie Cuevas Lopez        

Ryan Peckinpaugh        

English 101

29 March 2017        

Compare and Contrast: “I Have a Dream” and “God’s Judgment of White America”

The 1960s was a divisive time in the country and both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were at the forefront of the civil rights movement. In the Age of Great Dreams David Faber states, “More and more, African – Americans understood that America’s global role, the increasingly powerful role of the federal government, and the formation of a national cultural life gave them opportunities to expose a racist lie and demand that white America live up to its claims of democracy” (66).  Martin Luther King Jr.  and Malcom X were both highly respected men, became ambassadors for the black community, and submerged themselves into the civil rights cause wholeheartedly. Looking into Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Malcom X’s “Gods Judgment of White America” speech it becomes apparent both men had the desire to transform America in the form of equality for blacks, both delivered powerful speeches in which they used religion, the idea of social integration, and varying persuasive techniques to further the cause for equality, however, they differed in their plans for inspiring that change.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X both used references to religion within their speeches to help motivate transformation. Martin Luther King Jr. makes his faith apparent when he says, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children”. He sprinkles the words “faith” and “God” throughout his speech further reinforcing the notion of his godliness as a minster. Likewise, Malcom X says, “God himself has declared that no one shall escape the doom of this western world, except those who accept Allah as God, Islam as his only religion, and The Honorable Elijah Muhammad as his messenger.” Malcolm X also makes his faith apparent through his speech with references such as “Allah” and “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad”. Although both men use religion in their speeches, they greatly differ in their intended effectiveness of their religious references.  Martin Luther King Jr’s references are used to promote unity and inclusiveness. His usage of godly verbiage has a more positive connotation. On the other hand, Malcolm X uses a stronger more pointed message than his counterpart to portray the kind of fate that “White America” has in store for itself. His religious references are used to promote fear and alienate the blacks from “White America”.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X both incorporated the idea of social integration in their speeches to help inspire change. Martin Luther King Jr. says, “We will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last’”. Likewise, Malcom X says, “The only permanent solution to America’s race problem is the complete separation of these twenty-two million ex-slaves from our white slave master, and the return of these ex-slaves to our own land, where we can then live in peace and security among our people”. Both men explicitly state their goals in the America they envision for the blacks in the1960s. Although both men included aspects of social integration into their speeches, their ideas about integration could not be on further ends of the spectrum from each other. Martin Luther King Jr. is able to portray a future where people varying races and religious backgrounds come together. He advocates both freedom and inclusion whereas Malcolm X advocates a specific segregated type freedom inclusive only to those that have been oppressed by “White America”. Malcolm X exclusively promotes the idea of a complete separation from “White America” he is divisive and shows no interest in comingling the races. All of his efforts are focused on alienating the blacks from the whites.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X both used different persuasive techniques to help motivate change. Martin Luther King Jr. says, “So we’ve come to cash a check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice”. Martin Luther King Jr.uses pathos to convey his message and really bring home the meaning of his speech. Likewise, Malcolm X says, “An integrated cup of coffee isn’t sufficient pay for four hundred years of slave labor, and a better job in a white man’s factory or position in his business is, at best, only a temporary solution. The only lasting or permanent solution is complete separation on some land that we call our own”. Malcolm X also uses pathos to help appeal to his listeners. Both men are clear with their vision for the America they foresee, however their visions definitely do differ from one another. Martin Luther King Jr. uses the imagery of “cashing a check” to help illustrate within his speech a free and just country. An America where people from varying racial backgrounds come together in unity. On the other hand, Malcolm X uses the imagery of “payment” to explain that the comingling of races isn’t payment enough for the injustices that the blacks have suffered. He portrays, in further examples of imagery, a place segregated from the “White America” where the blacks will thrive on their own.



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