October 07, 2008
WINTER BOOK SUGGESTION
MARTIN & MALCOLM & AMERICA: A DREAM OR A NIGHTMARE by James H. Cone
This is one of the best books I've encountered.
Cone discusses the rhetorical strategies of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Malcolm X as they applied to their particular audiences: King to the South and Malcolm X to the North. Cone argues that Martin King's strategy of non-violent protest, while effective in the extremely segregated and anti-integrationist South, was not effective in the North (particularly in cities like Chicago and Detroit) because the discourse and policy of "integration" was already superficially accepted by Northeners. The "liberal" North found King's rhetoric to be more or less agreeable even as the structures of discrimination continued to subject black people to a brutal double-standard. Thus Malcolm X's policy of Black Nationalism (separatist rather than integrationist) that allowed for violence epitomized by the slogan "by any means necessary" was more successful in the North because it more effectively confronted personal and systematic racism. Long story short: two different rhetors with different rhetorics because of different situations, different audiences, with different immediate goals. Interestingly, near the close of both men's lives--Malcolm X killed in 1965 and Martin King in 1968--Malcolm began to sound a little more like Martin; and Martin began to speak even more forcefully, not unlike Malcolm had been known to do previously.
Posted by mkp at October 7, 2008 01:07 PM