Martin, Malcolm, & Masculinity



The Civil Rights and Black Power movements (narrowly defined) were principally struggles for racial equality and economic justice. The public ministries of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X have come to signify these movements respectively and have remained at the center of debates concerning competing trajectories of response. But though prevailing views often portray the philosophies of Malcolm and Martin as incommensurate, their philosophical and theological commitments led them to a similar place of aligning with the poor and oppressed on a global scale. This is not their only similarity. Both Martin and Malcolm extend from religious traditions where notions of social respectability and hyper-masculinity are inextricably linked to gendered conceptions of racial progress. The aim of this course, then, is to engage the theological, philosophical and social thought of these men while unmasking normative assumptions about race, domesticity, and sexuality that informed their outlooks and animated their gendered moral frameworks and masculinist organizing strategies. We will critically unpack the gender ideologies that underlay the thought and praxis of Malcolm X and Martin King while assessing ethical implications for contemporary politics and faith.