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Throughout their public careers, both Martin and Malcolm used the Scriptures to help

people see the world through the biblical story. Yet their faith and theology caused them

to interpret the same stories in very different ways. Paris indicates that it was extremely

important for King to develop through his studies an understanding that was theologically sound.



Books by & About Malcolm X

Malcolm X: The Man and His Times  /  Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X  / Martin and Malcolm and America 

Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean

 The Black Muslims in America The Autobiography of Malcolm X  / Malcolm X Speaks / By Any Means Necessary

February 1965: The Final Speeches

*   *   *   *   *

Books by and about Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love / The Measure of a Man Why We Can't Wait

A Testament of Hope  /  A Knock at Midnight   /  The Papers of  Martin Luther King, Jr., 1948-1963


Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story


Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation


*   *   *   *   *

A Personal Theological Perspective of Malcolm and Martin


Living Scripture in Community

Martin Luther King, Jr. & Malcolm X

By George W. Miller


I was born and spent my early years in a predominantly black, mostly poor section of Baltimore, Maryland. There I experienced and observed first-hand the problems that have for so long plagued America’s cities. However, my formal awareness of the extent of the cities’ problems began nearly thirty years ago when I studied issues such as the “economics of poverty” and the “political economy of the ghetto” as an economics undergraduate at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County.

There I learned that many of America’s inner cities shared the same characteristics as “underdeveloped” countries around the world. Three decades later problems such as hunger, homelessness, unemployment and underemployment remain major issues in the wealthiest nation in the world. In reflecting on urban ministry, I have often tried to understand how God would have me respond to people of the city, not just to the poor and those who find themselves on the margins of society, but also those at the centers of power.

Indeed, I have searched the Scripture hoping to be informed about practices that cause people to be poor and oppressed. For as Stanley Hauerwas suggests, I believe the church returns to Scripture time and time again, because God has promised to speak through Scripture.[i] What I found in my search was, that while Scripture provides a vast amount of biblical material about God's special concern for the poor, people interpret and use Scripture in very different ways. To help unravel what Hauerwas describes as the complex relationship between text and community, I examined the lives of two African American leaders who spoke out against the injustices that were occurring in America’s cities during the Civil Rights Era.

In some sense, the lives of these two men, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, embodied the Scriptures as they addressed the word of the Lord to their community in its own language. Both men demonstrated a deep religious commitment and a concern for social transformation. As Hauerwas says of “The Jesus of the Sermon on the Mount,” Martin and Malcolm did not “extol an esoteric or naďve or idealistic ethic – a way of life never tested or tried – but one whose instructions set forth the way of life that he himself embodied.”[ii]

Stephen Fowl and Gregory Jones suggest interpretation of Scripture is a social activity and, as such, it is subject to the political arrangements in which people interpret.[iii] These authors make it clear that understanding the political constitution of those contexts in which interpretation takes place is critical to faithful interpretation and use of Scripture. In a similar vein, Hauerwas cautions that interpretation of Scripture is not an objective science because, from beginning to end, it is an exercise in politics.[iv] For Hauerwas, it is not an issue of whether the Bible should be read politically, but an issue of which politics should determine our reading as Christians. Although both Martin King and Malcolm X began their public ministry in the mid-1950s, they operated in very different social contexts.

The Civil Rights Era, which began in the 1950s, was marked by a period of unprecedented protest against the condition of blacks. Resistance to racial segregation and discrimination with strategies such as civil disobedience or nonviolent resistance, which included marches, boycotts, freedom rides, rallies and other tactical protests, received national attention as newspaper, radio, and television reporters documented the struggle to end racial inequality. James Cone notes that in the South, where Martin King grew up, “WHITE ONLY” signs for waiting rooms, restrooms, water fountains and eating places constantly reminded young Martin of the second-class citizenship accorded to blacks in a white man’s society.[v] In the North, industrialization and rapid urbanization spawned other problems including the spread of slums and poverty. Cone suggests that in contrast to Martin, Malcolm was a product of the northern “black masses living at the bottom of the social heap.”[vi]

Fowl and Jones note that scholars have started to recognize the central role communities play in the formation of character and in ethical deliberation.[vii] As such, understanding the communities that were instrumental in shaping the character of Martin and Malcolm provides important insight into the very different views these two men held about America at the beginning of their public ministry. Indeed, as Tunde Adeleke suggests, Martin’s and Malcolm’s personalities and ideological values were shaped by the realities of their conflicting backgrounds.[viii]

Born January 15, 1929, Martin King was well educated, culturally refined, and politically aware. Cone states that the optimism and the idea of the “American dream” that dominated the speeches and writings of King were shaped by a relatively affluent social, religious and educational upbringing.[ix] He indicates that King believed that if other Negroes were given the same opportunity they too would manifest similar social and educational development. In 1949, when he was a student at Crozer Theological Seminary, King wrote:

It is quite easy for me to think of a God of love mainly because I grew up in a family where love was central and where lovely relationships were ever present. It is quite easy for me to think of the universe as basically friendly mainly because of my uplifting hereditary and environmental circumstances. It is quite easy for me to lean more toward optimism than pessimism about human nature mainly because of my childhood experiences. It is impossible to get to the roots of one’s religious attitudes without taking into account the psychological and historical factors that play upon the individual.[x]

King’s father and maternal grandfather were prominent Baptist preachers, each serving as Pastor of the Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.[xi] Cone states that both men actively participated as community leaders in fighting for equality and justice. He indicates they combined the self-help, accommodation philosophy of Booker T. Washington and the protest, integrationist philosophy of Frederick Douglass. Cone argues that education played an important role in shaping young Martin and notes that the social and intellectual environment at Crozer and later at Boston University served to reinforce King’s optimism.

Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, Malcolm X  grew up in Lansing, Michigan.[xii] Like Martin, Malcolm X was the son of a Baptist preacher. Earl Little, as Cone points out, was a “jackleg” preacher who was never called to a permanent pastorate.[xiii] Yet Earl Little was deeply involved in black people’s struggle for dignity and justice as an organizer for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. When Malcolm was six years old, his father Earl was killed and his mother was forced to accept public relief. She later suffered a mental breakdown and was placed in a state hospital. At this point, the authorities came in and the Little children were scattered in different places, as public wards.[xiv] Malcolm became the ward of a white couple that ran a correctional school for white boys where, according to Cone, Malcolm’s church and educational experiences were primarily defined by whites. At age fifteen, Malcolm dropped out of school. In his autobiography, he spoke on environmental influences.

People are always speculating - why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from birth, must be reviewed. All our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient…. I think that an objective reader may see how in the society to which I was exposed as a black youth here in America, for me to wind up in prison was just about inevitable.[xv]

Cone states that although Malcolm’s formal education ended at the eighth grade, it continued informally in the ghettos of Boston and New York, at Charlestown prison, and under the tutelage of his spiritual father in the Muslim faith, Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm worked as a street hustler in Boston and New York before he was sentenced to prison just prior to his twenty-first birthday.[xvi]

Stephen Covey, who conducts leadership-training workshops, suggests that while heredity (nature) and environment (nurture) are important to who we are, leadership is a choice.[xvii] Although formed by very different communities, both Martin and Malcolm made “leadership” a choice and accepted their “call” to ministry. Cone notes that after much soul-searching and reflection, Martin King chose to return to the South to serve the Negro community that nurtured his social, educational and religious development.[xviii]

Malcolm’s transformation occurred in prison, where his devotion to the Nation of Islam stimulated self-reform and self-education so that he could be an example to others and an effective evangelist in spreading the good news of what Islam could do for “the caged-up black man.”[xix] Interestingly, the two men accepted the leadership positions that catapulted them to the nation stage during the same year.  that In September 1954, Martin became, Cone reports, pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, a black middle-class congregation in Montgomery, Alabama, and in June of that year, Malcolm was appointed head minister of the influential Temple Number Seven in New York City.

In his workshop material, Covey cites Winston Churchill: “To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered a chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents.”[xx] Like David’s encounter with Goliath, these modern-day warriors confronted their own giants and secured a measure of victory for their people. The political career of Martin King began,  Peter Paris reminds us, in December 1955 when he was propelled into the leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott following the “Rosa Parks incident.”[xxi] After more than a year of boycotting the buses and a legal fight Montgomery buses were desegregated. For Malcolm, Cone notes, it was the “Hinton Johnson incident,” a case of police brutality in April 1957, which brought him to the popular attention of the larger black community.[xxii] Malcolm confronted the police and secured medical treatment for Johnson and punishment for the officers involved in the beating.

Throughout their public careers, both Martin and Malcolm used the Scriptures to help people see the world through the biblical story. Yet their faith and theology caused them to interpret the same stories in very different ways. Paris indicates that it was extremely important for King to develop through his studies an understanding that was theologically sound. He notes that King’s thought was heavily influenced at crucial points by evangelical liberalism, the social gospel, and personalism; by theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and Walter Rauschenbusch; and by philosophers such as Karl Marx, E. S. Brightman, G.W.F. Hegel and Mahatma Gandhi.[xxiii]

In contrast to Martin’s university and seminary training, Malcolm did not rely on “careful” theological investigations and readings when writing and speaking about his religious convictions and practices. Paris notes that Malcolm, however, had read voluminously while in prison, and after a period of personal training by Elijah Muhammad he rose quickly in the Nation of Islam to become its official national spokesman.[xxiv]

Although influenced by many forms of thought, Paris points out that King did not become a disciple of anyone. In fact, King’s thinking on the American dream, Cone believes, went through several changes. He indicates that early in King’s public ministry, his thinking was defined by an optimistic belief that justice could be achieved through love.[xxv] However, Cone indicates that later, love, for King, became more important, not displacing justice but bestowing greater significance on its achievement.

King considered love, argues Paris, to be the supreme religious and ethical principle that aims at restoration of community between people and God and between person and person.[xxvi] According to Cone, King viewed “nonviolence” as the vehicle love should take to achieve justice in the struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors.  Nonviolence did not mean passivity for King, Cone reminds us, but nonviolent direct action.

King believed, both Cone and Paris note, that only the strong and courageous person could be nonviolent. For King, it was the moral power of nonviolence that was most important, because rather than destroying the enemy, nonviolence transforms the enemy. In fact, what made King a figure of world historic proportions, with only the powerless at his side, Walter Wink believes, was his ability to formulate actions that would provoke and make visible the institutional violence of racism.[xxvii] King, Wink points out, refused to treat racism as a political issue only; rather, he insisted on it being seen as a moral and spiritual sickness.

In contrast to Martin, Malcolm had very different ideas about God and justice. Charles Campbell states we can only act in the world we can see or imagine, and he indicates that we differ not only because we select different objects out of the same world, but because we "see different worlds.”[xxviii] In this regard, the distinction that Campbell makes between Matthew and Luke’s view of the poor in the Sermon on the Mount also seems to apply to the different views of the poor held by Martin and Malcolm. Campbell states that Matthew may offer an even more profound grasp of the poor than does Luke, one that reckons with both the material and spiritual dimensions of the powers at work in the world.[xxix]

Matthew’s version of Jesus’ words suggests, Campbell argues, that the deepest and most debilitating form of poverty occur when the material, institutional oppression of poor people becomes internalized in their spirit. Like Matthew, Malcolm saw poor blacks as victims of oppression who had, in large part, lost their humanity as evidence by their apparent lack of resistance to the paralyzing conditions they were forced to endure.[xxx] Thus, Malcolm’s message was focused on the brainwashed condition of the “so-called Negroes” who seemed unaware of the “satanic” nature of the white man.

Malcolm also took comfort, Paris notes, in a religion that affirmed a rigorous, pragmatic approach to the problems of life.[xxxi] Although he credited Elijah Muhammad for showing blacks how to pool their financial resources, it was under Malcolm’s leadership that the Nation of Islam was transformed from a relatively unknown religious sect in 1952 to a disciplined nationwide movement in 1963.[xxxii]

The Nation of Islam, Cone reminds us, had approximately 400 followers and ten temples. In 1963, with Malcolm X as its chief spokesman,  according to a Playboy magazine article, the Nation was running its own schools and publishing its own newspapers.[xxxiii] The Nation, the Playboy exposed, owned stores and restaurants in four major cities, purchased broadcast time on 50 radio stations throughout the country, staged mass rallies attended by partisan crowds of 10,000 and more, and maintained its own police force of judo-trained athletes called the Fruit of Islam.

For Malcolm, the most persuasive element of the Nation of Islam was its affirmation of black people’s cultural history.[xxxiv] In the “Domination system,” silence and violence often go together, Campbell states, and notes that amnesia and a “disconnection from history” are important allies of the powers.[xxxv] Human captivity to the powers often, he continues, results from ignorance and denial about the realities of the past. Further, when people are silenced by the System and when they feel their voices will not be heard and do not matter, they are not only the victims of violence, but also often become the breeding ground of further violence, as their pent-up oppression goes unexpressed and finally explodes.

According to Cone, Malcolm was not silent; he was angry and he wanted the world to know that he was angry. Malcolm could not understand, Cone notes, how anyone could be a human being and not be angry about what white people had done to black people in America. Malcolm was particularly angered by white people’s assertion that he was teaching hatred and often responded, “History is not hatred.” Malcolm believed, Cone points out, that God is the executor of justice and notes that Malcolm’s concept of justice was “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and an arm for an arm, and a head for a head, and a life for a life.”[xxxvi] As such, Malcolm believed the “solution” to the problem of racial injustice “will be brought about by God.”[xxxvii]

Martin and Malcolm were not concerned with the abstract “meaning of Scripture,” but with the usefulness of Scripture in illuminating the societal problems in their communities. Although he was a Muslim minister, Malcolm commanded, Cone reminds us, a profound knowledge of and creatively used of the Bible, which gained him wide acceptance in the African-American community.[xxxviii] In fact, both men were deeply rooted in the biblical tradition, and they both often, according to Cone, referred to the same biblical characters, parables, and events: Moses, Daniel, Jesus, Paul, Lazarus, the lost-found sheep, the wheat and tares, the prodigal son, and the great liberation event – the Exodus.

King frequently drew upon the symbolism of the Exodus, Paris points out, to depict God’s action in history and the inevitable self-destruction of evil.[xxxix] Malcolm argued often that what happened in the story of Pharaoh and the Egyptians was imminent in America and history would repeat itself unless white America “Let my people go!”[xl]

King believed, Paris notes, that those who know the will of God ought to oppose evil whenever they see it, and such action must take precedence over social conformity and respectability.[xli] In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King felt compelled to respond to a group of clergy who advised African-Americans to wait patiently for justice. The title of the letter, King purposely chose it, Cone points out, to evoke the memory of the Apostle Paul who was jailed many times “for the sake of the gospel of Jesus.”[xlii] In this letter, King writes:

I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eight century prophets left their little villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.[xliii]

In this speech, King employs images of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as symbols of civil disobedience, noting that their refusal to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar was because a higher moral law was involved. King also reminded the respectable clergyman that the early Christians were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of the chopping blocks, before submitting to unjust laws.

In terms of his audience, Cone states that King’s “dream” metaphor was primarily directed at the white public. In contrast, King urged blacks to accept nonviolence as an affirmation of faith. In his “I Have A Dream” speech delivered at the March on Washington in August 1963,[xliv] King declared to whites:

America has given its colored people a bad check, a check that has come back marked insufficient funds. But we refuse to believe the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us on demand the riches of freedom and security and justice.

At the same time, King encouraged blacks to hold on:

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out the mountain of despair a stone of hope… With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

In contrast to Martin, Malcolm spoke primarily to black audiences. Malcolm, Cone recalls, compared America’s coming doom to the “downfall and destruction of ancient Egypt and Babylon” and Elijah Muhammad to Moses and the prophets who spoke for God. Malcolm’s analysis of God’s judgment on the nations of the past meant that God must destroy America for its sins. In December 1963, he delivered the “Chickens Come Home to Roost” [xlv] speech in which he declared at a Nation of Islam rally:

We, the Muslims who follow the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, believe wholeheartedly in the God of justice. . . . Before your pride causes you to harden your heart and further close your ears . . . search the Christian Scriptures. Search even histories of other nations that sat in the same positions of wealth, power, and authority that these white Americans now hold…and see what God did to them. If God’s unchanging laws of justice caught up with every one of the slave empires of the past, how dare you think White America can escape the harvest of unjust seeds planted by her white forefathers against our black forefathers here in the land of slavery!

In this speech, Malcolm also stated that the “Negro revolt” is controlled by the white man and suggested that King, Roy Wilkins, and other civil rights leaders were fighting publicly over the money they were trying to get from white liberals. On the March on Washington, Malcolm reminded his audience, “Now that the show is over, the black masses are still without land, without jobs, and without homes…their Christian churches are stilled being bombed, their innocent little girls murdered.”[xlvi]

Because they disagreed publicly with one another on many matters,  Martin and Malcolm seldom publicly acknowledged their shared convictions, Cone notes. As different as Martin’s and Malcolm’s religious communities were, Cone concludes, their faith commitments were derived from the same black experience of suffering and struggle in America.[xlvii]  Their theologies, therefore, should be interpreted as different religious and intellectual responses of African-Americans to their environment.

Martin and Malcolm both insisted that black people stand up and demand their rights and also argued that the Christian church must not ignore social problems. In fact, King, Paris points out, chastised the church for its laziness, its indifference and, most of all, for its historical support of the agencies and institutions in society that were bent on maintaining various forms of injustice. King judged it incumbent upon the church to be as concerned about bodily and material needs as it appeared to be about the soul,[xlviii] arguing that:

Only an irrelevant religion fails to be concerned about man’s economic well-being. Religion at its best realizes that the soul is crushed as long as the body is tortured with hunger pains and harrowed with the need of shelter.

Fowl and Jones point out that interpreting Scripture is a difficult task because it is, and involves, a lifelong process of learning to become a wise reader of Scripture capable of embodying that reading in life.[xlix] In a similar vein, Hauerwas notes that in Benjamin Jowett’s 1854 essay on the interpretation of Scripture, Jowett states that one has to bear in mind the progressive nature of revelation – in particular the superiority of later religious insights to earlier ones.[l] In fact, Hauerwas indicates that Jowett believed that if the interpreter possesses the proper linguistic tools, “universal truth easily breaks through the accident of time and place” and such truth still speaks to the condition of the human heart.

Toward the end of their lives, Martin and Malcolm reached a turning point that resulted in a movement by each toward the other and a break with earlier deeply held convictions about America. A heart-wrenching break with Elijah Muhammad, Cone points out, initiated a new stage in Malcolm's thinking and consciously moved toward the politics of Martin King and began to advocate “hope” and the participation of African-Americans in the political process.[li]

King, on the other hand, moved to the north and came face to face with the reality of Malcolm’s nightmare – the ghetto. After talking with young blacks who participated in the Watts riots, King discovered that the problem of racism and injustice in America was much deeper than he had thought. King began to see, Cone notes, that “there are literally two Americas,” one beautiful, rich and primarily white, the other ugly, poor and disproportionately black.[lii] Using Malcolm’s language, Martin began to speak of the ghetto as a “system of internal colonialism.”

Fowl and Jones indicate that the process of turning from the “world” to God is never over,[liii] and that certainly seemed to be the case for Martin and Malcolm. Along with the break with Elijah Muhammad Malcolm’s experience in Mecca, Cone reminds us, revolutionized his attitude toward white people and forced him to rearrange much of his thought patterns. Malcolm, Cone continues, moved toward a universal perspective on humanity that was centered on a commitment to the black liberation struggle in America. King traveled throughout the United States, and later to other countries, Cone reveals; these experiences contributed to King's developing a modified philosophy that was informed by a world perspective. King, Cone notes, became especially critical of America after he traveled to Ghana and India where he saw many starving and homeless people.

King, a Baptist minister, and Malcolm, a Muslim, were both assassinated at age 39 seeking to live out the biblical mandate to “do justice.” These two modern day prophets not only interpreted the Scripture for their communities, they demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the cause of justice. Campbell states that preaching involves an element of risk, which begins with the recognition that we cannot guarantee decisive changes in the near future or even in our lifetime.[liv] He suggests that the ethic of risk is propelled by, the equally vital recognition that to stop resisting, even when success is unimaginable, is to die.

Faithfulness, Campbell argues, is more important than effectiveness or success and he believes this is good news for those who know that preaching often does not produce immediate results. It is clear that Martin and Malcolm not only recognized the risks they were taking, but they continued to stand, faithfully declaring the word of the Lord in spite of the danger. In his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, Martin declared, “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now . . . I may not get there with you.”[lv] Likewise, in Malcolm’s “Speech at Ford Auditorium,” he stated, “I was in a house last night that was bombed, my own.”[lvi]

Just as Campbell says of the crucifixion of Jesus, Martin’s and Malcolm’s death cannot simplistically be blamed on any one individual or group; rather, something larger was at work.[lvii] Hauerwas raises the question of why would anyone ever have gotten upset with Jesus if all he had to tell us is that God loves us and does not want us to perish. Yet Jesus ended up on the cross, abandoned by all of his followers except a few women and a mysterious figure called the “blessed disciple.”[lviii]

Although killed by a white man, King was abandoned by many in the civil rights movement who joined the chorus of criticism against him, and it was not until after his death that he became popular throughout the black community. Malcolm, on the other hand, was killed by the blacks he loved, Cone reminds us, blacks he was seeking to liberate from self- hate.

Brad Braxton states that in every age, and in every community, the Spirit is not left without a witness, and the Spirit will send or raise-up prophets in communities.[lix] These prophets will see different things in the world and in the Scriptures, and their testimony (hopefully and eventually) will convict and convince communities to see things – in the world, in the biblical text, and in themselves – differently.

Yet Fowl and Jones suggests that no matter how many prophets there were in Judah and, I add, in America, ultimately it is the people who corporately must act upon the word of the Lord. These authors state that the consistent failure of the people of Judah to recognize and act upon Jeremiah’s word from the Lord indicates that a character nurtured by (among other things) courage, patience, and hope is not for prophets only.[lx] 

Indeed, it seems that Martin King and Malcolm X are but two more in a long list of individuals who responded to the call of God to speak to specific communities. In 1852, Martin Delany published The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered.[lxi]

Like Malcolm, Delany urged black separation from whites and recommended black resettlement in Central America, Africa, or South America. The book also spoke of the proud history of the black race at a time when leading theorists debated blacks’ innate inferiority. Nearly a century before Martin King’s “I have a dream speech” Frederick Douglass fought against the system of slavery and pleaded for freedom and equality for blacks. 

The lives of Martin King and Malcolm X make it clear that, as Hauerwas suggests, the relationship between text and community is indeed complex. The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms defines a prophet as one who speaks on behalf of God to God’s people.[lxii] The lives of these two modern-day prophets testify of a God who continues to speak to and through his people a word that is tailored for their particular social location. It is unlikely that the people to whom Malcolm spoke, with their pent-up oppression waiting to explode, could have received King’s message of nonviolence, nor were they apparently ready for integration.

On the other hand, King’s audience of middle-class, educated blacks and liberal whites were able to make the needed sacrifices. Thus God not only raises up prophets in communities throughout the city and nation, but he gives them a custom-made word, meeting people where they are and moving them forward until his “truth” breaks through the accident of time and place. He speaks not only to the poor, but also to the rich; not only to blacks, but also to whites. In fact, as the words of the song “Lift Him Up” declare, God still “speaks from eternity” to reach the entire city, “men of every birth.”[lxiii]


[i] Stanley Hauerwas, Unleashing the Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993), p. 36.

[ii] Ibid, p. 66.

[iii] Stephen Fowl and Gregory Jones, Reading in Communion: Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life, (Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1998), p. 11.

[iv] Hauerwas, p. 15.

[v] James H. Cone, Martin and Malcolm and America, (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1991), p. 24.

[vi] Ibid, p. 39.

[vii] Fowl and Jones, p. 9.

[viii] Tunde Adeleke, “Book Review.” Canadian Review of American Studies, 23 no 3 (1993):

[ix] Cone, p. 19.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid, p. 20.

[xii] Ibid, p. 41.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Malcolm X, “Playboy Interview,” (1963),

[xv] Cone, p. 38.

[xvi] Ibid, p. 41.

[xvii] Stephen R. Covey, “Unleashing the Fire Within: 4 Roles of a Leader,” (Franklin Covey Company: 2001).

[xviii] Cone, p. 32.

[xix] Ibid, p. 52.

[xx] Covey, p. 50.

[xxi] Peter J. Paris, Black Religious Leaders: Unity in Conflict, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991), p. 99.

[xxii] Cone, p. 94.

[xxiii] Paris, p. 100.

[xxiv] Ibid, p. 183.

[xxv] Cone, p. 61.

[xxvi] Paris, p. 114.

[xxvii] Walter Wink, Unmasking the Powers: The Invisible Forces that Determine Human Existence, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986), p. 129.

[xxviii] Charles L. Campbell, The Word Before the Powers: An Ethic of Preaching, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), p. The Word Before the Powers: An Ethic of Preaching: Books: Charles L. Campbell

[xxix] Campbell, p. 17

[xxx] Paris, p. 104.

[xxxi] Paris, p. 199.

[xxxii] Malcolm X, “Playboy Interview,” (1963.)

[xxxiii] Ibid.

[xxxiv] Cone, p 51.

[xxxv] Campbell, p. 75.

[xxxvi] Cone, p. 104.

[xxxvii] Ibid.

[xxxviii] Ibid, p. 161.

[xxxix] Paris, p. 105.

[xl] Cone, p. 168.

[xli] Paris, p. 117.

[xlii] Cone, p. 139.

[xliii] Martin L. King, Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” (Birmingham: 1963).

[xliv] Martin L. King, Jr. “I Have a Dream,” (District of Columbia: 1963),

[xlv] Malcolm X, “Chickens Come Home to Roost,” (New York: 1963),

[xlvi] Ibid.

[xlvii] Cone, p. 122.

[xlviii] Paris, p. 106.

[xlix] Fowl and Jones, p. 29.

[l] Hauerwas, p. 33.

[li] Cone, p. 193.

[lii] Cone, p. 222.

[liii] Ibid, p. 70.

[liv] Campbell, p. 81.

[lv] Martin L. King, Jr., “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” (Memphis: 1968),

[lvi] Malcolm X, “Speech at Ford Auditorium,” (Detroit: 1963),

[lvii] Ibid, p. 58.

[lviii] Hauerwas, p. 87.

[lix] Brad R. Braxton, No Longer Slaves: Galatians and African American Experience, (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2002), p. 28.

[lx] Fowl and Jones, p. 103

[lxi] “Martin Delany.” Afro-American Almanac. .

[lxii] Donald K. McKim, Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), p. 224.

[lxiii] Johnson Oatman, Jr., “Lift Him Up,”

George Miller is a long-time member of the Calvary Baptist Church, an inner-city church in Baltimore, Maryland. Haywood A. Robinson, III is his pastor. At Calvary, he has served in a variety of roles including Deacon, Trustee, Board member and coordinator for the Men’s ministry. Frequently, he has been called upon to teach in the New Member’s Ministry, the Men’s Bible study, and  theVacation Bible School.

May 2003, George graduated from St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Ecumenical Institute. He earned a Master’s degree in Church Ministries, specializing in Urban Ministry. His plans are to focus on applying leadership skills for planning, implementing, and assessing urban ministry programs and projects.

Currently, George is  a senior Social Security Administration (SSA) manager responsible for reporting Agency performance with regards to the nonmedical aspects of quality and accuracy of claims for social security benefits. He also provides leadership in responding to specific areas where quality and/or accuracy is of concern. A recent example includes provisions of Workers’ Compensation (WC) offset cases and reviewing the Special Disability Workload (SDW) claims.

He has had previous experience as Information Technology Systems (ITS) expert, progressing from technical ranks to senior management position in the ITS arena, in which he was responsible for providing advice to Agency Executives regarding multi-million dollar expenditures for ITS resources.

Overall, George is responsible for monitoring, evaluating and reporting the performance of IRS's major computer systems.  This information was used as part of the justification for computer equipment upgrades and replacements.  This information was also reported to oversight agencies such as the GAO and IRS's Internal Audit Division.  He has worked for the SSA since 1981, after graduating  in 1974 from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with an undergraduate degree in Economics.

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John Coltrane, "Alabama"  /  Kalamu ya Salaam, "Alabama"  / A Love Supreme

A Blues for the Birmingham Four  /  Eulogy for the Young Victims   / Six Dead After Church Bombing 

Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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Malcolm X artifacts unearthed—Police docs and more found among belongs of 'Shorty' Jarvis—1 February 2012—Documents outlining the crime that landed Malcolm X in prison in the 1940s are among some 1,000 recently unearthed items purchased jointly by the civil rights leader's foundation and an independent collector of African-American artifacts. The documents and other artifacts belonged to late musician Malcolm "Shorty" Jarvis, who served in prison with Malcolm X and was one of his closest friends. Jarvis' 1976 pardon paper also is part of the collection, which was recently discovered by accident. The items had been in a Connecticut storage unit that had gone into default, and were initially auctioned off to a buyer who had no idea what he was bidding on. The Omaha, Nebraska-based Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, which oversees the Malcolm X Center located at his birthplace, will house and display the just-arrived archives. It split the cost with Black History 101 Mobile Museum, based in Detroit—the birthplace of the Nation of Islam.—Mobile Museum founder and curator Khalid el-Hakim declined to identify the original buyer or the price the two organizations paid for the trove. Still, even after splitting the cost, he said it's the largest acquisition to date for his mobile museum, which includes Jim Crow-era artifacts, a Ku Klux Klan hood and signed documents by Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. . . . The collection also reveals an enduring connection between the two Malcolms after their incarceration, Malcolm X's conversion to Islam and his rise to prominence. There's a 72-page scrapbook of Malcolm X's life that was maintained by Jarvis until after his friend's 1965 assassination. One of the civil rights era's most controversial and compelling figures, Malcolm X rose to fame as the chief spokesman of the Nation of Islam, a movement started in Detroit more than 80 years ago. He proclaimed the black Muslim organization's message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization and urged blacks to claim civil rights "by any means necessary" and referred to whites as "devils."—TheGrio

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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Behind the Dream

The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation

By Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly

 “I Have a Dream.” When those words were spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, the crowd stood, electrified, as Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the plight of African Americans to the public consciousness and firmly established himself as one of the greatest orators of all time. Behind the Dream is a thrilling, behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, as told by Clarence Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant to King. Jones was there, on the road, collaborating with the great minds of the time, and hammering out the ideas and the speech that would shape the civil rights movement and inspire Americans for years to come.— Palgrave Macmillan

Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation is a smart, insightful, enjoyable read about a momentous event in history. It is the "story behind the story" straight from Clarence Jones, the attorney, speechwriter, and close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. As I read the words on the page, I felt as if I were having an intimate conversation with the author. The book helped me to understand the humanity of Dr. King and the other organizers of the March on Washington. They were people who saw injustice and called for change. Despite FBI wiretaps and other adversity, together they undertook an enormous logistical effort in hopes that the March would be a success. Jones himself handwrote the first draft of the renowned “I Have a Dream” speech on a yellow legal pad, but it wasn't until King was inspired to veer from the text that he struck a chord with the audience, delivering the right words at the right time. The “I Have a Dream” speech helped to elevate King from a man to a hero; this book is a reminder to all to make sure that his Dream lives on.—amazon customer

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

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#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

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#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

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#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
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#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

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#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
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The Gardens of Democracy: A New American Story

of Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government

By Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

American democracy is informed by the 18th century’s most cutting edge thinking on society, economics, and government. We’ve learned some things in the intervening 230 years about self interest, social behaviors, and how the world works. Now, authors Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer argue that some fundamental assumptions about citizenship, society, economics, and government need updating. For many years the dominant metaphor for understanding markets and government has been the machine. Liu and Hanauer view democracy not as a machine, but as a garden. A successful garden functions according to the inexorable tendencies of nature, but it also requires goals, regular tending, and an understanding of connected ecosystems. The latest ideas from science, social science, and economics—the cutting-edge ideas of today—generate these simple but revolutionary ideas: (The economy is not an efficient machine. It’s an effective garden that need tending. Freedom is responsibility. Government should be about the big what and the little how. True self interest is mutual interest.

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans. The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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