While several African-Americans are content with their social status in modern-day America, other African-Americans such as Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton contend that the Black struggle for justice and equality is far from being finsished. The history of the African-American is not the typical history of the immigrant who gradually assimilated into the American way of life and gradually reached the American Dream, rather it is a dark history filled with inequity, oppression and the struggle to realize the American Dream. The United States of America, a nation founded on the principles of equality and freedom, ironically, was built with the blood, sweat, and tears of millions of Africans who were stolen from their homeland, stripped of their humanity and sold as slaves. Not surprisingly, Blacks were viewed as inferior to whites, regarded as less than human and treated worse than plantation pets. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries found Blacks subjected to inhumane punishments such as merciless whippings, beatings, and occasional lynchings. However, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, many Blacks became tired of America’s injustices and decided to do something to right the wrongs the experienced on a daily basis. An immediate effect of their determination was the Civil Rights Movement. The primary purpose of the Civil Rights Movement was to establish equal professional and educational opportunities, as well as legal rights, for Blacks and whites in America. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X were two prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, who instilled a sense of religion, pride, and perseverance into the Black community. Through their tireless efforts, Dr. King and Malcolm X helped African-Americans acquire their “inalienable” rights originally promised to them in the 14th and 15th Amendments. In addition to securing rights promised to African-Americans in the Constitution, Dr. King moreso than Malcolm X, helped to transform the government’s inaction into action which resulted in Civil Rights legislation such as the Civil Rights Bill and Affirmative Action policies to ensure that African-American’s rights were not encroached on. Although the living conditions of African-Americans seem to have improved since the pre-Civil Rights Movement time period, conflicting statistics such as the numbers of middle class Blacks has steadily increased over the years and black males are overrepresented in prison populations reveals that there is an existing ambiguity concerning the true status and advancements of Blacks in America. To properly evaluate the progression of Blacks in America and the effects of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X’s efforts during the Civil Rights Movement on today’s Black community, one should examine the matters of Black Nationalism and education as well as Affirmative Action and it’s effects. One should primarily consider these issues because Black pride and education are the essential elements of Black success in America and Affirmative Action effects the way Blacks are viewed in America and also contributes to their social and economic rise in society.
Before one can adequately examine the effects of Dr. King and Malcolm X’s efforts on today’s Black community, one must first understand the lives of each activist and their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. While many Americans are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, few people are familiar with the details of Dr. King’s life and the events that persuaded him to become a Civil Rights activist. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929, to schoolteacher Alberta King and Baptist minister Michael Luther King (Timeline).