Steven F. Lawson (Fellow, 1987–88)
February 22, 2011
Martin Luther King, Jr., the apostle of non-violence, spoke of brotherhood and gave the civil rights movement of the 1960s its moral force. Malcolm X, the proponent of “any means necessary,” spoke of ballots and bullets and displayed the movement’s anger and frustration. Often teachers frame the civil rights movement between the seemingly stark polarities established by these two leaders. But how different were their positions? Did they share any common ground? How did they play off of each other’s positions and rhetoric to advance the cause of African Americans? How has recent scholarship rethought Martin and Malcolm? Where did the civil rights movement end and Black Power begin?