Celebrating Martin Luther King’s Birthday 2015

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To celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., I figured I would introduce you to a book I read a few years back. Martin & Malcolm & America. If you haven’t read the book, but you’re curious about Martin & Malcolm. This would be a great book to get you started.

American: A Dream Or A Nightmare
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day…sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…This is our hope…With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day…This will be the day when all God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning. “My country “tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
March on Washington
Washington, D.C.
28th August 1963

No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the 22 million black people who are the victims of Americanism. One of the…victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So, I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver–no, not I! I’m speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American Nightmare.

Malcolm X
Cory Methodist Church
Cleveland, Ohio
3th April 1964

The Meeting of Martin & Malcolm

After eight years of verbal sparring through the media, two great African-American leaders, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X, finally met for the first and only time in Washington, D.C.

Although the media portrayed them as adversaries, Martin and Malcolm were actually fond of each other. There was no animosity between them. They saw each other as a fellow justice-fighter, struggling against the same evil — racism — and for the same goal — freedom for African-American.

Integrationism and Nationalism In African American Intellectual History

No one stated the dilemma that slavery and segregation created for Africans in the United States as sharply and poignantly as W.E.B. Du Bois. In his classic statement of the problem, he spoke of it as a “peculiar sensation,” a “double-consciousness,” “two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

The “twoness” that Du Bois was describing stemmed from being an African in America. “Here, then, is the dilemma,” he wrote in “The Conservation of Races.” “What, after all, am I? Am I an American or am I a Negro? Can I be both?”

Du Bois talked about the point that “Integrationist Thinkers” may be defined as those who answer “Yes” to the question, “Can I be both?” On the other hand, “Nationlist Thinkers” have rejected the American side of their identity and affirmed the African side, saying “No, we can’t be both.”

To understand Martin Luther King’s and Malcolm X’s perspectives on American and their relation to each other, it is important to see them in the light of these two different but interdependent streams of black thought.

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[…] The march from Selma to Montgomery that took place 51 years ago was actually a total of three separate marches which began on March 7, 1965 and arriving at the state capitol doorstep in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965 to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. […]

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