American Dream or Nightmare

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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 King and Malcolm. Both King and Malcolm looked for justice in an unfair and unjust society, but one looked through the eyes of optimism, the other looked through the eyes of an unrelenting truth. Those who have systematically suffered under the guise of others, such as African-Americans have; search for a new sense of reality. They adapt an attitude that yields a sense of well-being and self-worth. This new attitude shields one from fear and deception and gives them a collective voice. These two men, provided that voice. King advocated integration, while Malcolm focused on Black Nationalism. During an era in history that was marked with violence, inequality, hatred, hurt, and pain, an eruption of change was inevitably brewing. Cone shows how this manifested from a Southern as well as Northern perspective. There is often a false sense of equality for northern blacks, but Cone reveals how hatred and racism did not draw a boundary in the sand and say we are not crossing this line. Unfortunately, it existed everywhere. Cone successfully... ... middle of paper ... ...k since your arrival? Now is the time for an eye for an eye. King, of course rejected this. He felt this type of retribution would lead to everyone being blind. There was no courage in fighting back, but there was courage in sitting in silence. Malcolm was feared not because of any blatant words of violence he spoke, he was feared because he demonstrated no fear. His courage lied not within the confines of peaceful suffering, but in a loud outcry for justice. Justice was the common thread binding these two great figures together. Each longed for an America where their fellow “Negro” was treated with dignity and respect. When evaluating history and historical figures it is critical to possess an accurate depiction of who they were and what they stood for and Cone did just that. The American dream cannot be recognized without admitting the American nightmare.
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