All About History


They didn’t hold high public office, they didn’t fight wars and they didn’t possess vast wealth and riches, and yet Dr Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X still managed to become two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.

Rising to prominence at the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, each became equally revered and reviled by different parts of the United States. Both would ultimately come to be the de facto leader of their groups and each would meet an untimely and violent end at the hands of assailants whose identities and motives continue to be hotly debated.

In Dr King’s role as first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Malcolm X’s position as a minister and leading national spokesperson for the Nation of Islam (NOI), these two men often appeared to offer two conflicting arguments and approaches to the challenge of achieving racial justice and equality in America. What’s more, each existed in the public eye to a far greater and wider extent than any of their contemporaries fighting for African American rights and representation, and as a result each has developed their own legend. What we hope to do as we explore the lives of these two men is to find what linked them more than divided them and bring back some of the humanity of the men behind the myths. To that end we could think of no one better to guide us through this journey than the author of The Sword And The Shield: The Revolutionary Lives Of Malcolm X And Martin Luther King Jr, Dr Peniel E Joseph.

“The mythology around both men frames them as opposites,” he explains. “It frames Malcolm as Dr King’s evil twin. It frames Dr King as this saint who would just give everybody a hug if he was alive right now and that really takes away

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