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Reply to "Does MLK Get A Bad Rap?"

There's a lot to respond here. I'll come back to this as I can.

First, I am not creating a schism, but merely noting that one exists and probing to determine its nature, depths, and connection to each's contributions. I posted a poll recently that asked who one would prefer meeting between MLK and Nelson Mandela. Yssys responded, essentially, neither. She preferred Malcolm X. That response got me thinking about the differences in perception between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. There has been quite a bit here posted enthusiastically praising MX, with IMO just a tepid and reverential memory of MLK. The whole point of this thread is to explore the nature of those feelings and to discuss those perceptions. IMO they both shared similar objectives. They just chose different strategies and tactics in fighting for the same thing. Further, because MLK chose a more "passive" approach, I wonder whether his current perception among many is "fair" when juxtaposed with the ultimate effectiveness of his efforts. Likewise, is MX's current equity generated more from his approach than from his ability to actually achieve his objectives? *

Also, to be clear, I place no value judgment here, one way or the other, on the particular strategies or men. I just want to explore the differences and nuances of perceptions that exist between the two men. This isn't about building up one man at the expense of the other.

Second, I ascribe nothing to MX's motives/activities other than what is popularly held about him and captured in his "by any means necessary" phraseology. To many, that phrase "captures" Malcolm, probably in similar ways that words like passive resistance, and non-violence, and Ghandi-esque "captures" Martin. I have never seen a picture of MLK peering out a window with a shotgun in his hand. I've never seen anything to suggest that somehow "by any means necessary" has been inappropriately stretched by popular consensus. There is certainly plenty of dialog from Malcolm himself that speaks to his willingness to confront violence with violence. Remember, it's as American as cherry pie! brosmile

In any event, IMO, the preciseness of the perceptions is fairly irrelevant to this discussion. It is clear that MLK and MX chose different paths. With the benefit of 40 or so years perspective, we now have the opportunity to analyze both the effectiveness of the approaches, and which actually was more productive to black America. This, even after acknowledging the interconnectedness of the men and their movements.* I am intrigued with comparing answers to the above with how African America perceives each leader. That's the point here.

* - It's like comparing the effectiveness of the run and passing games of an NFL team. Both are a part of the offense. They both share the same objective of scoring points. They are different tactics, however. MLK was Doug Williams. A great quarterback with a ridiculously strong arm. Hence, he threw the ball. MX was Jim Brown - one of the best runners ever. He combined strength and speed in a way that dominated his opponents. Both Doug and Jim wanted to score touchdowns. All I'm suggesting is a conversation about the relative perception of the two.


There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life
that is less than the one you are capable of living. - Mandela


[This message was edited by MBM on December 06, 2003 at 09:41 AM.]
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