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Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare

de James H. Cone

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Cuts through the superficial caricatures of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X to reveal two men whose visions were complementary and moving towards convergence. Other books by James H. Cone include Black Theology and Black Power and The Spirituals and the Blues: An Interpretation.
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Professor Cone has done much research in comparing the lives, careers, and teachings of the two leading figures of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, whose lives were both cut short by assassins. Cone argues that each was important in his own right, and the product of their upbringing, with Martin growing up as a middle class black preacher's son in the South while Malcolm grew up dirt poor in the ghettos of the North (Lansing, Harlem) and served time in prison. Martin was a non-violent integrationist with a dream whereas Malcolm was a brash separatist living a nightmare, calling for self-defense. Martin had a broad appeal to whites and Christians whereas Malcolm's appeal was more limited to the radical and poor, but his contribution to the civil rights movement has been under-recognized, especially as it complemented Martin's work. Malcolm spent too many years under the shackles of Elijah Mohammad, which precluded his participation in politics, and it was not until his censure and separation when he broadened his activity, mind with greater international exposure that he became most enlightened and willing to work together. I liked the characterization of Malcolm as a "field nigger" and Martin as a "house nigger" insightful. However, I disagree with Cone's attempt to characterize the two as friends, especially with Martin's steadfast refusals to meet with Malcolm. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
I was very disappointed by this book. As this is considered a classic, I expected a better argument from Cone. However, I cannot in any agree with his thesis that these two leaders generally came together as they matured. While some positions overlapped, there was still much basic disagreements between the two. So fundamental were these disagreements that it makes Cone's argument laughable. However as a book about how he synthesizes their thought for his own methodology, that part is somewhat interesting. ( )
  morningrob | Feb 2, 2009 |
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Cuts through the superficial caricatures of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X to reveal two men whose visions were complementary and moving towards convergence. Other books by James H. Cone include Black Theology and Black Power and The Spirituals and the Blues: An Interpretation.

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