Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America

Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America

Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America

Dreams and Nightmares: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Struggle for Black Equality in America

Synopsis

A deft, readable examination of two icons of black resistance "This book is more than a must- read; it is an essential read if one is interested in a multidimensional view of two icons in American History."--Brenda R. Simmons, University of North Carolina-Charlotte "Waldschmidt-Nelson has written a myth-shattering account of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X that, without diminishing their differences, illuminates surprising similarities. Teachers will find this book useful in informing students how the struggle against white supremacy powerfully transformed the lives of its participants and the nation."--Steven Lawson, Rutgers University One man dreamed of a country united in true racial equality. Another saw this as a nightmare that served only the interest of wealthy whites. Both were sons of Baptist ministers. Both grew up to be icons of the civil rights movement. Integration versus separatism. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X have come to symbolize the two primary strands of black political thought during the civil rights movement, much as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois had more than a half-century earlier. As Henry Louis Gates Jr. points out in his foreword, the parallels and divergences between the two men remain striking. Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson compares and contrasts these two giants in her fascinating dual biography. She offers a concise account of their lives, accomplishments, and challenges. In a crisp, fascinating narrative, she reveals the interconnectedness of their goals, their visions, and their legacies. Most provocative, she suggests what might have been, as their philosophies began to converge, were it not for a pair of assassins' bullets. Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson is associate professor of American history and culture at the University of Munich in Germany. A volume in the series New Perspectives on the History of the South, edited by John David Smith

Excerpt

Within African American political discourse; the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X stand as opposite poles on a broad political continuum, metaphors for divergent philosophies of political liberation, philosophies they inherited from deep in the black intellectual tradition, at least to the middle of the nineteenthcentury, and probably beyond. in Dreams and Nightmares, Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson, a German scholar of American political history, has created a fascinating narrative account of the relationship between these two seminal figures that brilliantly interweaves salient details from their public and private lives to trace in fine detail the inner and outer history of the civil rights movement.

Crisply and briefly, she quite valuably establishes the historical context of the civil rights movement by unearthing its roots—its continuities and discontinuities—in the nineteenth-century antislavery movement. Issues of equal rights, voting rights, human rights, separatism, and Black Nationalism that so dominated the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the 1950s and 1960s, she carefully shows us, first emerged over one hundred years earlier in the long and difficult battle to end human slavery in the United States. in the thought of Martin Luther King Jr. one can see manifested extensions of the principles of abolitionists such as Frederick . . .

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