Here are two statements:
- The Negro must love the white man, because the white man needs his love to remove his tensions, insecurities and fears.
- You do too much singing. Today it is time to stop singing, and start swinging.
Which of the above is emblematic of black radicalism? The answer is not as clear-cut as many of us might think.
The first statement was made by Martin Luther King Jr. in support of his much lauded and widely known strategy of nonviolent resistance.
King’s call comes from his 1958 account of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, “Stride Toward Freedom.” In it, he articulated what he saw as an essential form of communal love that had its roots in New Testament Christianity but one that King felt was best described by the ancient Greek word “agape,” a redeeming love that “springs from the need of the other person.” Certainly, the families of the murdered congregationalists of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Charleston, S.C., were practicing that sort of love last week when they publicly forgave Dylann Roof, the young white supremacist who committed those murders.
The second statement was made in a characteristically biting tone by Malcolm X some six years after King’s….