The Yin-Yang of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Rosalie and Joseph Segal Room (1420-1430) 515 W Hastings St, Vancouver Coast Salish Territories Harbour Centre

Our historical memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X most often sets them in opposition –racial integrationism vs. separatism, pacifism vs. violence, “good” vs. “bad” black leader (or vice versa).  But what happens if we move beyond this dualism and examine these African American icons together? What if we consider how and why their respective struggles for black liberation and historical legacies were and are interconnected and interdependent? In honour of Black History Month, this talk will do just that, and promises both to complicate your idea of both men and deepen your understanding of the African American freedom struggle.


Karen Ferguson holds a doctorate in African-American history from Duke University in North Carolina. Her research is concerned with the ways that race and public policy intersect in American urban politics. Her latest book, Top Down: The Ford Foundation, Black Power, and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism considers the continuities and changes in racial liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s as its focus shifted from civil-rights integrationism to multiculturalism.