Addison Sarter
6 min readFeb 8, 2022


Malcolm X Forced JFK To Create The Civil Rights Act of 1964

When most people think of Malcolm X, what comes to mind is how he spoke truth to power and advocated self defense against the oppressor. Rarely is he credited for getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.

On the night of May 11, 1963 in Birmingham Alabama of 1963, the KKK bombed the residences of Black civil rights leaders. John F Kennedy didn’t budge. It wasn’t until Black people abandoned Dr. King’s doctrine of non-violence and started fighting back, did JFK intervene by sending federal troops in to Birmingham.

According to the New York Times “About 2,500 persons joined the crowds that attacked the police and firemen, wrecked scores of police and private automobiles and burned six small stores and a two-story apartment house. Aside from the authorities, only a relative handful of whites became involved.”

Three Black men even stabbed a police officer in the ribs during this riot.

Black people rioting in Birmingham of 1963 and the threat that Malcolm X posed to America is what forced JFK to propose the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As we know, JFK would be assassinated in November of 1963, making Lyndon B Johnson president. Lyndon B Johnson would eventually pass the Civil Rights Act that JFK proposed. Although JFK and Lyndon B Johnson worked on the legislation , it was Malcolm X who inspired JFK and Lyndon B Johnson to pass the legislation.

Malcolm X commented on the 1963 riot:

“President Kennedy did not send troops to Alabama when dogs were biting black babies. He waited three weeks until the situation exploded. He then sent troops after the Negroes had demonstrated their ability to defend themselves. In his talk with Alabama editors Kennedy did not urge that Negroes be treated right because it is the right thing to do. Instead, he said that if the Negroes aren’t well treated the Muslims would become a threat. He urged a change not because it is right but because the world is watching this country. Kennedy is wrong because his motivation is wrong.”