American Dream Or Nightmare Essay

1884 words - 8 pages

James Cone’s Martin & Malcolm & America paints a distinctive portrait of the individual yet complementary lives of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Cone takes an introspective lens and casts imagery of the backgrounds of King and Malcolm; examining their childhood until the moment they reached monumental heights in the face in history. The story of these two heroic men is not a foreign tale, for all have heard of the works of each. Cone does not take this as an opportunity to provide a biography of their lives, he chooses to look deeper into their lives and reflect upon the development of their ideology. This in depth analysis shatters the preconceived notions many uphold regarding ...view middle of the document...

Historically, they are always placed at opposing ends of the spectrum, one advocating hate, while the other encourages love. One igniting hope, while the other spewing anger. King and Malcolm were viewed as polar opposites, much as north is to south and hot is to cold. With this opposition, if the radical words of Malcolm did not exist, would the words of King have been accepted. Would King have been as successful in his quest for justice? Society looked upon him as being the lesser of two evils. Cone does not specifically address this issue, but he does pave the pathway to an answer.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was greatly rooted in the church. His father and grandfather were both Southern Baptist ministers. It was the black church where he developed a strong sense of self-worth and “sombodyness.” Racism could not penetrate and break King’s value of self. He maintained his dignity, even when faced with undignified circumstances. Cone mentions how King had an anti-white mentality until he entered college; which is a rarely uncovered fact regarding King’s outlook. It was his exposure at school through his interactions with interracial organizations he was able to shed this mentality. As his perspective on whites began to evolve, so did his sentiments regarding religion. King “grew more antagonistic toward religion.” (558) and found it difficult to justify “truth-value of religion in a scientific world.” (558) He openly admitted; “I had doubts that religion was intellectually respectable.” (578) During this time King began to study the works of Reinhold Niebuhr and was intrigued with his teachings of human nature and behavior. This was fundamental to the development of Kings later perspective as he optimistically embraced the notion that humanity could solve its own social problems. Kings possessed a profound capacity for personal development and change of practice. King’s moral outlook on social problems expanded his commitment to personalsitic methods and basic Christian principles. King was calling for justice, but justice which embraced love. This love will fight against the social ails plaguing society; while maintaining a moral and ethical perspective. If the fight for civil rights is wrapped in the moral fibers of love, justice and community will permeate throughout the land. His convictions lead to his crusade in fighting for justice and believing if injustice existed for one, then it existed for all. King’s leadership in the Montgomery Bus Boycott deepened his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. This movement was committed to eradicating the social ills blacks faced, while removing the veil of white dominance. King believed that the black people, or the Negro, had the right to enjoy all the privileges that were available to all Americans. King rejected the notion that black people were subhuman. He asserted God created humankind in His image; therefore there is no doctrinal justification for...

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