Document A: Excerpt from “I have a Dream” Speech by Martin Luther King Jr., August 26, 1983



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MLK vs. Malcolm X

Document A: Excerpt from “I have a Dream” Speech by Martin Luther King Jr., August 26, 1983

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.


But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.
Source: “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. August 26, 1983.


Document A: Questions

  1. What document declared Slaves were Free?




  1. Does MLK believe that to still be the case? Use evidence from the speech to support your answer.





Document B: Excerpt from “I have a Dream” Speech by Martin Luther King Jr., August 26, 1983

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
Source: “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. August 26, 1983.


Document B: Questions

  1. When does MLK believe that Blacks should demand their freedom? Use evidence from this selection:



  1. Has the United States fulfilled its promise of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Use evidence to support your answer.


Document C: Excerpt from “I have a Dream” Speech by Martin Luther King Jr., August 26, 1983

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.


And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. … No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Source: “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. August 26, 1983.


Document C: Questions

  1. Why did the white people join in the March on Washington? Use evidence from the selection above.


  1. When will MLK be satisfied? What are the conditions that he believes currently exists? Use examples from above.





Document D: Excerpt from “I have a Dream” Speech by Martin Luther King Jr., August 26, 1983

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Source: “I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. August 26, 1983.


Document D: Questions


  1. Does MLK believe that people can change? Use evidence from the section above.


  1. What is most important to MLK: color or character? Use evidence from above.


Malcolm X Documents:

Document E: Excerpt from The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio

“…Dr. Martin Luther King is a Christian minister down in Atlanta, Georgia, who heads another organization fighting for the civil rights of black people in this country; … well, I myself am a minister, not a Christian minister, but a Muslim minister; and I believe in action on all fronts by whatever means necessary.

Although I'm still a Muslim, I'm not here tonight to discuss my religion. I'm not here to try and change your religion. I'm not here to argue or discuss anything that we differ about, because it's time for us to submerge our differences and realize that it is best for us to first see that we have the same problem, a common problem, a problem that will make you catch hell whether you're a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Muslim, or a nationalist. Whether you're educated or illiterate, whether you live on the boulevard or in the alley, you're going to catch hell just like I am. We're all in the same boat and we all are going to catch the same hell from the same man. He just happens to be a white man. All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white man.
Source: The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio


Document E: Questions


  1. What type of action does Malcolm X believe in? Highlight the area where he states this.



  1. Who does Malcolm X believe is exploiting the black race? What types of exploitation does he discuss? Present 2 pieces of evidence to support his claim.






Document F: Excerpt from The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio

Now in speaking like this, it doesn't mean that we're anti-white, but it does mean we're anti-exploitation, we're anti-degradation, we're anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn't want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us. Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything to argue about until we get finished arguing with the man. If the late President Kennedy could get together with Khrushchev and exchange some wheat, we certainly have more in common with each other than Kennedy and Khrushchev had with each other.


Source: The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio


Document F: Questions


  1. How does Malcolm X propose to uniting blacks to oppose oppression? Use evidence from above.


  1. What evidence does he use to show that even opposites can work out problems?





Document G: Excerpt from The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio

If we don't do something real soon, I think you'll have to agree that we're going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet. It's one or the other in 1964. It isn't that time is running out -- time has run out!

…Those Honkies that just got off the boat, they're already Americans; Polacks are already Americans; the Italian refugees are already Americans. Everything that came out of Europe, every blue-eyed thing, is already an American. And as long as you and I have been over here, we aren't Americans yet.
Source: The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio


Document G: Questions

  1. What is the argument being made in this section? Use evidence from this section


  1. Does Malcolm X believe that Black Americans are truly Americans? What evidence have we learned in the past few days can you use to prove this:




Document H: Excerpt from The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio

Well, I am one who doesn't believe in deluding myself. I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate. Being here in America doesn't make you an American. Being born here in America doesn't make you an American. Why, if birth made you American, you wouldn't need any legislation; you wouldn't need any amendments to the Constitution; you wouldn't be faced with civil-rights filibustering in Washington, D.C., right now.”


Source: The Ballot or the Bullet by Malcolm X on April 3, 1964 in Cleveland, Ohio


Document H: Questions

  1. How does Malcolm X describe the role of African Americans in Congress and the law making process?



  1. What constitutional Amendment makes anyone born in the United States a U.S. citizen?



  1. Does Malcolm X Believe this is true? Why or why not?


Choose a side – MLK or Malcolm X

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