The relation of James Baldwin thoughts to Malcolm X and Martin Luther King

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The Strategy of Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

I concur with Donald Smith that the nonviolent civil disobedience recommended by Martin Luther King Jr. was a strategy in expressing their dislike of the racial segregation in the direction of the African America. The approach was within the regulation and thus he as well as other protesters should not be arrested for the reason of breaking the law.

Donald presents an surroundings in America that was significantly populated with racism from education quarter such as schools, hospitality establishments such as hotels to transport sector. However, Martin’s strategy won popularity and momentum as it was a source of thought to many. Therefore, proponents of the strategy courageously staged several protests across America notwithstanding encountering resistance from armed police. The movement created awareness as more activists studied the facts of this in colleges (Shi 1022). The evidence that activists never retaliated describes Martin’s idea as a source of inspiration to many.

James Baldwin's Background and Influence

James Baldwin is a famous and renowned American writer, social critic, civil rights activist, essayist and a novel writer. James Arthur Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York and raised by a single mother as he never saw his biological father’s face. His mother later got married to a minister who became his stepfather. He ended up caring for his younger brothers and sisters at his early ages of life. James Baldwin, later on, met Beauford Delaney, a famous artist who became his mentor and encouraged him to develop insight of creativity. This opened his mind that steered him to his present success. James created an enormous interest and began to have passion in writing whereby he wrote short stories, essays and book reviews. To note, in this paper we are going to majorly dwell on the similarities between James Baldwin’s speech and Martin Luther Kings or Malcolm X’s.

Similarities Between James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King

To start with, James Baldwin is viewed to be portraying numerous similarities between his speeches together with works and those of Malcolm x and Martin Luther King. This is as a result of the many resembling aspects that they dwelt on. First, James and Malcolm X dwelt on topics to deal with racism in conjunction with the African American experience. This forms the basis of the similarities between the two great writers and authors. Taking in regard the works of these two men, they try to draw an insight on the various periods of transformation that triggered them towards the understanding and truth in American race relationships. Malcolm X claims that this period came to play while he was in prison. For James Baldwin, this period was when he met with Mohammed Elijah who was the leader of the Nation of Islam.

Malcolm X's Imprisonment and Transformation

In the year 1946, Malcolm X was charged with burglary, and he was imprisoned for 10-years part of which he completed in Norfolk Prison Colony in Norfolk, Massachusetts. This was during the time he was initiated to Nation of Islam and its teachings by his brother Reginald while still in jail. The Nation of Islam and its leader Mohammed majorly taught black pride and the principles of Islam of which they had confidence that would assist African Americans to regain their position among other men worldwide. Mohammed, in particular, had a belief that studying the white men history, the key issue on how black people began would be easily availed in the process wherein Malcolm began deep research in the prison library. Malcolm later became a great scholar and to a leader in the Nation of Islam after changing his last name to X from his original ‘Little.' He then pointed out that the Whiteman is a devil and that the American black man is the most shameful case of minority oppression. He was then appointed the minister and spokesman for the Nation of Islam whereby his writings and speeches attracted large numbers of new members where he was then crowned the face of the black movement.

James Baldwin's Collaboration with Elijah Mohammed

On the other hand, James Baldwin in part of his books, he explains how he came across Elijah Mohammed as he was preaching after which he left preaching and started writing on biographical and semi-biographical stories about his identity and life. In his writing ‘Fire Next Time,' he explored the struggles black people undergo in a world dominated by white people that became a key text reference in the civil rights movement. Baldwin met with Elijah Mohammed where they agreed on issues related to racism as James Arthur concluded that for black men to realize their potential, they should not be separated with the whites which were similar to Malcolm’s. The two men Malcolm X and James Baldwin expressed their knowledge as black people to talk about racism and to make known the urge for a shift in American society. They researched for facts using different sources while circling their personal accounts of life struggles forming the platform for those working aiming towards equality in the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King's Influence on James Baldwin

In continuation on James Baldwin writing, Martin Luther King also had a great influence on his remarkable speech about ’I Have A Dream.' The speech made him become a strong critic of the war in Vietnam as he pronounced his stand in an address in 1967 by speaking against global militarization and called for the eradication of poverty and economic inequalities in his speech he shows an immediate freeze of a moment of optimism that made President Johnson end his communications with him. King was later sentenced to prison due to his connections in a Civil Rights Campaign in Birmingham at Alabama as he believed that Birmingham was the only isolated city where the authorities could deny the demonstrations as he combined both children in the protests. He then wrote a letter while in prison using paper scraps to the clergymen whom in turn dotted their own letter to the public attempting to convince them to bring to an end the demonstrations and wait for their writes to be acted on. He urged that segregation goes against the principles of both Christian and the democracy. More of his writing has featured great audiences but was directly aimed at the white clergy men as he put much emphasis on the issue that none of the Americans will be treated as an outsider outside the United States as he marched towards a larger sense of national solidarity that would end any loyalties to regionalism not only in the white countries but also in the black continents.

James Baldwin's Perspective on Religion

James Baldwin is viewed with much concern of religion I the civil rights duration as he is read in secular terms because of his firm root within the Christian tradition. To add on this, Stauffer brings our attention to William James who states that all religious expressions assume that there is a problem as we are saved by connecting to a high power hence James Baldwin doesn’t disobey a genuine God as he is still religious in his own Jamesian sense and his great affection of love. Stauffer continues to urge that James is highly Hegelian in that he strongly believes that ideas shape material forces for which Baldwin gets free from any’ essentializing’ restrains but is nevertheless anchored within a Judeo-Christian tradition. Baldwins also shows signs of faith in invisible world that changes the material world in Christianity environment as he sees religion as a spiritual revenge fantasy against oppressions and oppressors of the world facilitated by human themselves. He keenly differentiates spirituality from religion by making it clear that when a person rejects the Christian church it doesn’t act, as an enough evidence to conclude that he also rejects what all Christianity entails. For instance, he describes love in two states as a ‘state of being and as a state of grace’ which is described as a spiritual sensibility.  James Arthur Baldwin did not want to be viewed as the pinpoint of political government as he saw himself as an artist rather than an activist by being at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. His involvement in the civil rights movement a bit challenging due to his opposite love for men sexually pronouncing him as a gay as he made love for men clearly of which he ended up being crowned ‘Martin Luther Queen’ by his competitors both black and white. This made the MLK people to keep a distant with him claiming that it would be better for James Baldwin to join a gay rights movement. James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King were dynamic African Americans who played similar roles in trying to unify African-Americans by giving them confidence and strength in different ways that even led to some of them being persecuted and jailed in the United States for many years.


In addition to this, the three writers both had a uniform belief that at the end of it all they can separate from the white man and be at peace together with harmony and production. The other hand they hoped that there will come a time when both blacks and whites will be at the same level and accomplish whatever they could not manage to raise up.

However, the techniques and teachings of James Baldwin and Malcolm X differed at some point, but their general belief which was African-Americans were same as anybody else formed the basis of their similarity in their thoughts making them important aspects of a focused generation. More often than not, the skills in leadership are like talents some people are born with within them since it’s not a quality to develop or build with ease as good leadership is mainly based on a person’s personality. The three possessed the dynamic, charismatic and writing skills that steered them to stand firm on their work of speaking for others by words of truth.

To conclude, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King portrayed robust and vibrant thoughts using their numerous and inspiring writing skills laid on their books airing out how both black and white people both can stand firm and move out to fight for same treatment despite their races and individual backgrounds.    

Work Cited

Shi, David E, and George B. Tindall. America: The Essential Learning Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2015. Print.

July 24, 2021

Race and Ethnicity Racism

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