Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Face to Face
Al Jazeera (2018)
This documentary compares and contrasts the anti-racism campaigns of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X during the 1960s. It combines commentary from Black scholars and civil rights activists with vintage footage of the two leaders.
Malcolm was highly critical of King for strategies he claimed sought to win the support of white people. Malcolm frequently asked to debate him though King always refused. Malcolm opposed non-violence as a strategy, maintaining Blacks had a right to defend themselves when cops beat them up. He also disagreed with King’s focus on integration and voting rights. He believed asking Black people to trust whites was dangerous and alienated them from deep-seated feelings about the way whites treated them. Likewise he believed voting was useless so long as whites were determined to disempower Black people.
Unlike King, a Baptist preacher, Malcolm also rejected Christianity (“the religion of slavery”) were he became second in command at the Nation of Islam.
It was largely under Malcolm’s influence that African Americans became proud to be Black, and “Negroes” began referring to themselves as Black.
The two men met only briefly in 1964 at a congressional hearing on Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act.
Following Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination, King seemed to become much more radical, as he took up Black poverty and the Vietnam War as key issues.