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Graduating the Legacy of the Civil Rights Era beyond the Persona of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Omar Alansari-Kreger

Martin Luther King is definitely an icon of the civil rights movement here in the
United States. He dedicated his life to usher in an era of racial equality where people of
color could live dignified lives. It is just mindboggling to observe just how southern race
laws were at the time; nowadays it is rather difficult to imagine drinking fountains and
seating areas in restaurants specifically for people of color. Throughout the duration of
the Civil Rights Movement, many heroes and heroines were born and carried
themselves with legendary distinction. To those of us that arrived after the Civil Rights
era, such names are forgotten and very little effort was made to preserve their
sacrifices, legacies, and memories. Rather, the civil rights movement did everything it
could to graduate itself as a socially acceptable mainstream institution.
That is one of the main reasons why so much effort was made to center the
struggle for civil rights on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Nowadays whenever there is a
mainstream recollection of that particular era of American history it is next to impossible
to avoid Dr. Kings name. There is a major problem with this placated platform. The idea
here is not to fault Dr. King as someone that is undeserving of reverence for his
sacrifices and stances during that turbulent period in American history. Yet, there is one
provocative question that escapes the minds of many which states the following: what
are we doing to ensure that the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement/Era survives the
revered persona of Dr. King? Why does the American mainstream cultural
establishment fail to pay tribute to figures such as Malcolm X?
This presents us with a trend of great contestation which has preserved itself
time over ever since the assassination of Dr. King. The irony is that both personalities
were iconic figures during the Civil Right Movement/Era yet one captured the historical
spotlight while casting the other aside. Dr. King was largely an innocuous figure to most
of the United States; the main pitch of his advocacy demanded an end for segregation
in all of its forms so that people of color could take their rightful place in the nation
strictly through non-violence. Malcolm X championed the same exact principles, but any
empirical observation that is made into his platform will confirm that it was also a lot
more controversial in nature; Malcolm X was worlds away from political correctness
during his own time.
During the Civil Rights era, Dr. King was again that innocuous face that didnt
frighten that cultural Caucasian figure or in some cases those Anglo-Saxon faces of the

United States; Malcolm X did the exact opposite. The former preached integration
through cooperation while the latter encouraged the blatant right to self-defense when
unlawfully threatened, attacked, and detained by citizens and authorities alike. Unlike
Dr. King, Malcolm X was very critical of the United States government; for some time,
he was actually supportive of the creation of an independent homeland here in the
United States for African Americans. Malcolm X began his career as an activist with the
Nation of Islam; another organization deemed as socially and culturally subversive by
many governmental authorities at the time.
During the 1960s, the American mainstream media exercised extreme caution
when affording any kind of press to Malcolm X. It was necessary for him to appear as
some kind of extreme eccentric in order to portray his advocacy deep within the cultural
fringe. Shortly before Malcolm X was assassinated while addressing a public crowd, he
had split with the Nation of Islam, traveled around the Middle East and North Africa, and
performed his Hajj as a repatriated Muslim. It wasnt long afterward until he started
exposing the Nation of Islam for its corruption going on to accuse it of serving as a CIA
proxy organization in an effort to manipulate the direction of the Civil Rights Movement
altogether. From a critical standpoint history confirms those suspicions and when the
mainstream African-American icon of the American Civil Rights Movement was
assassinated outside of his Memphis Motel Room, he was officially placated as the face
of it and its legacy.
Overall, the Civil Rights Era comprised of many heroes and heroines and the
essence of that struggle should not situate itself around a singular personality in history.
Why not facilitate a Civil Rights Day or a separate Malcolm X Day alongside a Martin
Luther King and Rosa Parks Day in an effort to sociologically sow the seeds of racial
equality deep within the American cultural mantra? Let us not forget the struggles, trails,
and triumphs of all heroes and heroines of the Civil Rights Movement. The attributes of
such prolific figures in history should inspire a new generation of American Americans
who could quite possibly bring the ghetto mentality to its knees.