There is no justification on any front to claim that one man is better or ‘more American’ than the other. Dr. King and Malcolm X both had the same end game in mind which was to seek equality for everyone, but they had different paths to achieve this common goal (Howard-Pitney, 2004). One could make the argument that Dr. King used methods from across the globe to achieve his goal, which in turn can give a person the impression that he did not have faith in traditional Western practices. While this is merely a way to peacefully achieve equality for everyone in the United States, it did seem to give his critics such as Malcolm X reasons to question his motives, stating he was doing too little in order to facilitate change (Howard-Pitney, 2004).
On the opposite side of the question posed in this discussion, Malcolm X was more aggressive in his approach to achieving the goal of racial equality in this country. Howard-Pitney (2004) compared the militant leader to radical revolutionaries such as Patrick Henry who was known as a rebel in revolutionary times. There are times that aggressive action needs to be taken in order to achieve the desired results. Even though this type of action is sometimes necessary, critics of Malcolm X state that he should have been more tactful in his approach and would have received different results.
In conclusion, the answer to this question is that each man was American in their own way. Dr. King was a socialist who believed in cooperation and non-violence, while Malcolm X believed a harder lined, more aggressive approach was needed to achieve the desired result. The wonderful part about living in America is that everyone can use their own approach to solving problems and no one is more or less patriotic than their contemporaries.
- Howard-Pitney, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s: A Brief History with Documents (2004).