The Ballot, the Bullet, and the Truth

MLK’s condemnation of Malcolm X never happened. Why that matters now.


Episode Notes

Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925, and he remains one of the most polarizing figures of the civil rights movement. An enduring myth from that era is that he and Martin Luther King Jr. were diametrically opposed politically. But the recent revelation that a quote where King condemned Malcolm X was false has prompted a wider reconsideration of his beliefs and legacy.

On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by historian Peniel Joseph, author of “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.” Professor Joseph explains why the popular understanding of Malcolm X is so incomplete, and helps to give a more nuanced portrait of him as a man and a leader.

Guest: Peniel Joseph, Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the University of Texas, LBJ School of Public Affairs

Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel


About the Show

America doesn’t need another conversation about race. At least, not the kind we’ve been having … the ones that are sparked by a crisis and move quickly from shock to empty promises to forgetting. No. What America needs are REAL conversations about race—ones that shine a light on the facts, the history, and the reality of how race plays out in our politics and society. That’s what Slate offers each week on A Word … with Jason Johnson. A veteran political commentator, Johnson will bring his incisive wit to thoughtful discussions with leaders, journalists, and other change-makers who will tell the truth about America’s challenges around race and offer ideas on the way forward.

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