It can be said with confidence, not just today, but even during his era, that Malcolm X was a different kind of man. Not that he held any less importance during the civil rights movement, but that he was in many ways a radical leader. While King was leading peaceful rallies, Malcolm X was redefining the African-American man. With his powerful and intellectual speeches he inspired many African-Americans to fight racism in a new and proactive manner.
Today, many people don't understand what exactly Malcolm X stood for in terms of civil rights. It is true that Malcolm’s message differed from King’s message of peaceful protest, but he was not literally, a pro-violence advocator. What Malcolm X wanted was for African-American’s not to be defenseless against their oppressors. For African-Americans to understand how they were being attacked, and how many of their African traditions were being stripped from them. It was Malcolm X who pointed out many of the discriminations taking place in America. On multiple occasions he commented on the so called separate, but equal education system, the injustice in the laws “protecting” blacks, and most importantly he did this in the public light, such as television, so that what he was saying was not forgotten.
Many civil rights leaders at the time feared that Malcolm X would harm the movement, but on the contrary he brought to the table a determination not yet seen. He let the nation know that if African-Americans did not get the equality they deserved, that sooner or later they would not stand idly by. In coordination with MLK, Jr., Malcolm X may have helped the civil right movement move along faster, because it was both of these leaders that gave the minority struggle the respect it deserved on the national spot light.
When our founding fathers Keith Nelson, Charles Ransom, Finley Campbell, and Peter Frederick chose the name Malcolm X to symbolize our institution they did so because Malcolm X symbolized several things, contrary to public understanding. For us at the MXI, Malcolm X symbolized, “a choice of activism and nationalism that permeated the era of the late 1960's and 1970's. It also symbolized a refusal to let anyone else select a name for them. African-Americans would no longer allow others to decide how they should be identified.” (MXI History) Malcolm X’s teachings help us to identify ourselves, to defend ourselves when we must, and fight for what we believe in.