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, knowledge 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. Speech
Martin Luther King, Jr.
March on Washington
28 August 1963
The Meeting of Malcolm & Martin
After nearly 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., 26 March 1964. Both were attending the U.S. Senate’s debate of the Civil Rights Bill. Initiated by Malcolm following Martin’s press conference, the meeting was coincidental and brief. There was no time for substantive discussions between the two. They were photographed greeting each other warmly, smiling and shaking hands. The slim, six-foot three-inch Malcolm towered over the stocky, five-foot eight-inch Martin.
They walked together a few paces through the corridor, whispering to each other, as their followers and the media looked on with great interest. As they departed, Malcolm teasingly said, “Now you’re going to get investigated.”
Although the media portrayed them as adversaries, Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X 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-Americans.
Integrationism and Nationalism In African-American Intellectual History - Can I Be Both
Integrationist thinkers may be defined as those who answer “Yes” to the question, “Can I be both?” They believe it is possible to achieve justice in the United States and to create wholesome relations with the white community.
On the other hand, nationalist thinkers have rejected the American side of their identity and affirmed the African side, saying “No, we can’t be both.” They have contended that 244 years of slavery, followed by legal segregation, social degradation, political disfranchisement, and economic exploitation means that blacks will never be recognized as human beings in white society.
Integrationism and nationalism represent the two broad streams of black thought in response to the problem of slavery and segregation in America. But, to understand Martin King’s and Malcolm X’s perspectives on America 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.
I wanted to share a few words from James H. Cone books. To read more on the thoughts of Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcolm X, click either link and get a copy for yourself.
Cone, J.H. (1992) Martin & Malcolm & America, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books
Cone, J.H. (2012) Martin & Malcolm & America, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books