Almost four decades after Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X offered sharply contrasting ideas regarding the future direc-tion of black politics, they still symbolize opposing positions that divide African Americans. Their sometimes rancorous debate, carried on through public statements rather than direct dialogue, set the tone for the disruptive, even deadly ideological and tactical conflicts within black communities in the years since their deaths. Contemporary black young people seeking social justice are still torn between racial integration and racial separation, between Martin's call for nonviolent resistance and Malcolm's insistence on “any means necessary.”

But was the split between them inevitable? Were their ideas actually incompatible? Or were they in some ways complementary? Must African Americans choose between their ideological legacies? Would Martin and Malcolm have resolved some of their differences had they not been assassinated? Was their inability to achieve such...

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