Author Peniel Joseph discusses his dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, which upends longstanding preconceptions to transform our understanding of the twentieth century's most iconic African American leaders.
To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense vs. nonviolence, black power vs. civil rights, the sword vs. the shield. The struggle for black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright. In The Sword and the Shield, Peniel E. Joseph upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. This is a strikingly revisionist biography, not only of Malcolm and Martin, but also of the movement and era they came to define.
Dr. Joseph will be in conversation with Dr. Yohuru Williams. Dr. Williams is Distinguished University Chair and Professor and founding director of the Racial Justice Initiative at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Dr. Williams received his Ph.D. from Howard University in 1998. He is the author of Black Politics/White Power: Civil Rights Black Power and Black Panthers in New Haven (Blackwell, 2006), Rethinking the Black Freedom Movement (Routledge, 2015), and Teaching beyond the Textbook: Six Investigative Strategies (Corwin Press, 2008) and the editor of A Constant Struggle: African-American History from 1865 to the Present Documents and Essays (Kendall Hunt, 2002). He is the co-editor of The Black Panthers: Portraits of an Unfinished Revolution (Nation Books, 2016), In Search of the Black Panther Party, New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement (Duke, 2006), and Liberated Territory: Toward a Local History of the Black Panther Party (Duke, 2008). He also served as general editor for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History's 2002 and 2003 Black History Month publications, The Color Line Revisited (Tapestry Press, 2002) and The Souls of Black Folks: Centennial Reflections (Africa World Press, 2003). Dr. Williams served as an advisor on the popular civil rights reader Putting the Movement Back into teaching Civil Rights.
Please register for this free Zoom event. Registered audience members will receive a Zoom link prior to the event. The Sword and the Shield can be ordered online from our partner Greenlight Bookstore for in-store pickup or direct-to-home shipping here.