Difference Between Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela

People die, but their good deeds towards society are remembered for ages. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are two such activists who raised their voices and brought change against the injustice in the community.

Knowing the differences between them helps to understand their contribution to society better.

Martin Luther King vs Nelson Mandela 

The main difference between Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela is that Martin Luther King subsisted as a social reformer and American baptist leader. On the other hand, Nelson Mandela was a South African revolutionist and a political executive. Martin Luther directed the movement to end divergence in the United States. While Nelson Mandela enabled demolishing of South Africa’s racist system apartheid. 

Martin Luther King vs Nelson Mandela

Martin Luther King was a social reformer who broke off desperation in Americans through peaceful protests. Martin Luther was voted as the president of the Southern Christian leadership conference.

He went across almost six million miles and talked to thousands of people in eleven years from 1957 to 1968 and spoke to people regarding their issues.

Nelson Mandela was a civil rights proponent and nationalist who devoted his life to equality. He was a phalentrotrophist (philanthropy is a deed of altruism that comprises taking private initiative for enhancing the integrity of public lives).

He stood as the first president of South Africa from the year 1994 to 1999. 

Comparison Table Between Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela

Parameters of Comparison Martin Luther King Nelson Mandela
Role towards society Martin Luther King pertained to the injustices for the African Americans in the United States of America.  Nelson Mandela pertained to the injustices of apartheid in South Africa.
Working strategies Martin Luther King acknowledged non-violence. Nelson Mandela gave assertions for why violence should be employed to provoke change. 
Popular names Martin Luther King is popularly known as a Baptist minister.Nelson Mandela is called the founding father of democracy and Global icon.
Popular writingsMartin Luther King’s popular writings include: Stride Toward Freedom, Where Do We Go from Here and Why We Can’t-Wait.Nelson Mandela popular works include the long walk to freedom 
Nobel PrizeMartin Luther King achieved the Nobel Prize in 1964.Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Prize in 1993.

What is Martin Luther King? 

Martin Luther King was a public liberation advocate who was popularly known as a Baptist minister. He came into this world on 15 January 1959.

His parents gave him the name Micheal Luther King Jr. But later, this name was changed to Martin Luther King.

In the year 1960, Martin Luther King was allocated as a Priest of Baptist Church in Atlantia. His wife was Coretta Scott.

In 1955, Martin Luther took over the leadership of the first negro non-violent rallies. During that time in America, there was a law for segregation of whites and Negros in the busses.

He supervised the boycott of the buses as a non-violent protest against the law. The boycott lasted for 382 days, and he was also imprisoned during the boycott. Later Supreme Court declared the laws of segregation as unconstitutional.

He led a huge revolt in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught attention from all over the world.  

While Martin Luther was in jail, he wrote his manifesto of Negro revolution. He also scheduled numerous crusades in Alabama for the enrollment of Negros as voters.

He was imprisoned almost 20 times in his life and was charged several times for his actions. 

What is Nelson Mandela?

That Rolihlahla Mandela was born on 18 July 1918. Rohilala Mandela was the birth name of Nelson Mandela. He was born in a royal family, Mvezo, Union of South Africa.

Those days Union of South Africa was a sovereign of the British Empire.

While doing studies of law and legislation at the institute of Witwatersrand, he encountered discrimination as he stood the only nonwhite African student there.

From there on, he combated the racism by the people. After some years, he began to take part in political activities. In 1944 he enrolled in the African National Congress. 

He raised his first crusade of civil disobedience against the six unjust laws. These laws restricted non-whites from entering certain areas that were only reserved for whites.

He travelled throughout the country to build good support for non-violence protests against those unjust laws. 

Later in the year 1955, Nelson Mandela was involved in drafting the non-racial social democracy and did several other revolts against the injustices of black.

He later administered the role as the head of the African National Congress from the year 1991 to 1997.

During that span of six years, he completely terminated apartheid and gave rise to the peaceful transition to non-racial democracy in South Africa. 

Main Differences Between Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela 

  1. Martin Luther King was the baptist leader. In comparison, Nelson Mandela was a political leader. 
  2. Martin Luther King raised campaigns against the inequality prevailing against Negros in America. In contrast, Nelson Mandela revolted against constitutional laws of injustice for non-whites.
  3. Martin Luther received the Nobel peace prize, Presidential freedom, and Congressional gold medal during his lifetime. Whereas Nelson Mandela received the Nobel Peace Prize, Bharat Ratna, Presidential medal of space, Nishan-e-Pakistan, and many more such bravery awards. 
  4. Martin Luther King has popularly known for peace and civil freedom movements. In contrast, Nelson Mandela is known for internal opposition to apartheid.
  5. Martin Luther King stood as the initial president of the Southern Christian leadership committee. On the other hand, Nelson Mandela prevailed as the initial president of South Africa. 
Difference Between Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela


Martin Luther King had turned down the number of noble prizes for the civil rights movement. He had made a major contribution to equality in society.

Finally, when he was standing on his balcony and protesting for the garbage workers on 4 April 1968, he was shot dead by his enemies. But, people around the world still read his writings and manifestations and take life lessons from them. 

On the other hand, After making some significant changes towards democracy, Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95 in 2013 on 5 December. He is today known worldwide for his work.

He is popularly known as a global icon. The accomplishments of Nelson Mandela are celebrated as Nelson Mandela International day each year on 18 July.  


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=jc41AQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT603&dq=nelson+mandela&ots=KDnURPFYNv&sig=qW-3Zu90NZBte8OsNmqiWVzklPg
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315731513/martin-luther-king-jr-peter-ling
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