Few Black leaders are held in as high esteem as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Yet public media habitually represents these ministers as rivals, even adversaries—one the nonviolent hero of the Civil Rights Era, the other a violent revolutionary. While their rhetoric and protest strategies differed, there were many experiences, values, and priorities that they shared. This course re-examines the lives and legacies of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X (that is, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz). Students will analyze their speeches, essays, biographical writing, interviews, and film representations to explore the origins of their religious and political philosophies, and to consider how these perspectives clashed or converged. By the end of this course, students will have a more nuanced understanding of the sociopolitical ideologies that underpinned X and King’s struggles for freedom, as well as how their memory is deployed in current day movements for social change.
Instructor: Dr. Alexia Williams