Jet magazine covers from 1964
Jet magazine covers from 1964
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, 1967.
Photos by Ernest Reshovsky
Ebony magazine covers from 1962
Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was leaving a news conference one afternoon when a tall man with a coppery complexion stepped out of the crowd and blocked his path. Malcolm X, the African-American Muslim leader who once called King “Rev. Dr. Chicken-wing,” extended his hand and smiled.
“Well, Malcolm, good to see you,” King said after taking Malcolm X’s hand.
“Good to see you,” Malcolm X replied as both men broke into huge grins while a gaggle of photographers snapped pictures of their only meeting.
That encounter on March 26, 1964, lasted only a minute. But a photo of that meeting has tantalized scholars and supporters of both men for more than 45 years.
As the 85th birthday of Malcolm X is marked on Wednesday, history has freeze-framed him as the angry black separatist who saw whites as blue-eyed devils. Yet near the end of his life, Malcolm X was becoming more like King – and King was becoming more like him. “In the last years of their lives, they were starting to move toward one another,” says David Howard-Pitney, who recounted the Capitol Hill meeting in his book “Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. “While Malcolm is moderating from his earlier position, King is becoming more militant,” Pitney says.
Malcolm X was reaching out to King even before he broke away from the Nation of Islam and embraced Sunni Islam after a pilgrimage to Mecca, says Andrew Young, a member of King’s inner circle at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights group King headed.“Even before his trip to Mecca, Malcolm used to come by the SCLC’s office,” Young says. “Unfortunately, Dr. King was never there when he came."
He reached out to King and other civil rights leaders. In 1965, Malcolm X traveled to Selma, Alabama, where King was leading a campaign, to offer support. "Brother Malcolm was definitely making an outreach to some civil rights leaders,” says A. Peter Bailey, an original member of the group Malcolm X founded, The Organization of Afro-American Unity, and a friend of Malcolm X. “He believed that the one who would be most responsive would be Dr. King.”
The Muslim leader had developed an appreciation for King, Bailey says.“He had come to believe that King believed in what he was doing,” Bailey says. “He believed in nonviolence; it just wasn’t a show. He developed respect for him. I heard him say you have to give respect to men who put their lives on the line.”
King’s movement toward Malcolm began as he shifted the civil rights movement to the North, friends and scholars say. During the last three years of his life, King became more radical. He talked about eliminating poverty and providing a guaranteed annual income for all U.S. citizens. He came out against the Vietnam War, and said American society would have to be restructured.He also veered into Malcolm X’s rhetorical territory when he started preaching black self-pride, says Pitney.
“King is photographed a number of times in 1967 and ‘68 wearing a ‘Black is Beautiful’ button,’ ” Pitney says.
A year before King died, the journalist David Halberstam even told him he “sounded like a nonviolent Malcolm X,” Pitney says.
In the epic PBS civil rights series, Coretta Scott King, the civil rights leader’s widow, said King never took Malcolm X’s biting criticisms of his nonviolence stance personally. “I know Martin had the greatest respect for Malcolm …,” she said. “I think that if Malcolm had lived, at some point the two would have come closer together and would have been a very strong force.”
Martin Luther King Jr. and Stokely Carmichael during the March Against Fear in Mississippi, June 1966.
On June 7th, 1966, James Meredith, who had integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962, began the March Against Fear; an attempt to walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, to promote black voter registration and defy entrenched racism. On the second day of the march Meredith was shot by an unknown gunman. Other civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael, arrived to continue the march on his behalf. It was during the March Against Fear that Carmichael, who was leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, first spoke publicly of “Black Power.”
Martin Luther King Jr. and
Coretta Scott King
with their daughter, Yolanda Denise King at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church
Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, Ira Sandperl, Martin Luther King Jr., and Dora McDonald at the annual Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff workshop
at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island in
South Carolina, 1966.
Photos by Bob Fitch
Martin Luther King Jr. enjoys Sunday dinner
after church with his wife Coretta and their children Yolanda, Marty, Dexter, and Bernice on November 8, 1964.
(Photos by Flip Schulke)
According to FBI documents, Joan Baez and Martin Luther King Jr.
had an ongoing affair
in the 1960s.
Baez participated in many of the Civil Rights Movement demonstrations that King helped organize.
Allegedly she was one of at least three women King had sexual affairs with during that time, including the wife of a prominent black dentist from Los Angeles whom he supposedly got pregnant and had a baby girl.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Joan Baez march for school integration in Grenada, Mississippi on September 20, 1966.
(Original Caption) The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. today [Sept. 20] led nearly 200 Negro children to schools where integration last week set off a mob frenzy by whites. Dr. King told a gathering of Negro pupils and parents at the Bellflower Baptist Church before leading them on the demonstration that he could not agree with the black power slogan of ‘‘Burn baby, burn’’ that came out of the 1965 riots in Watts. ‘‘I am forced to disagree with that slogan,’’ Dr. King said. ‘‘I say, ‘Learn, baby, learn’ and ‘Build, baby, build.’’’