Oral History Review

“Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Robert Penn Warren”

The fourth episode from the Wisdom Project courtesy of the University of Kentucky is titled “Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Robert Penn Warren. This podcast is narrated and produced by Doug Boyd, on this episode he talks about the interviews that were conducted by Robert Penn Warren. Warren interviewed many civil right activists, but the two that this episode focuses on is Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X.

Boyd begins the episode by explaining the background of Warren. Robert Penn Warren was an author and poet. He published many books about civil rights and one of his notable books is All the King’s Men. He grew up being a segregationist and then became a supporter of integration and racial equality. Warren has conducted many interviews. He has interviewed 40 prominent leaders of the civil rights movement. Warren goes right into the nitty gritty in interviews and asks deep and intellectually sparking conversations. This episode takes a look at his two interviews, one being with Martin Luther King Jr. and the other with Malcom X.

The first interview the podcast focuses on is the one with Martin Luther King Jr. The narrator, Boyd explains the accomplishments of MLK and his major works including, the Montgomery Boycott, his Letter From a Birmingham Jail, and The March on Washington. King always advocated for a non-violence approach. It starts off with Warren asking King a question about how protests and actions have changed from the time of his father and today. King wants to bring an integrated society. He explains that desegregation can be achieved through nonviolent action, but to have in integrated society there must be mutual acceptance. 

Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which he delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech, calling for an end to racism.

I do not think violence and hatred can solve this problem, I think they will end up creating many more social problems than they solve, and I’m thinking of a very strong love, I’m thinking of love in action, and not something where you say ‘love your enemies’ and just leave it at that, but you love your enemies to the point that your willing to sit in at a lunch counter in order to help them find themselves, your willing to go to jail and I don’t think anybody could consider this a cowardice or even a weak approach. I think many of these arguments come from those who have gotten so caught up in bitterness that they cannot see the deep moral issues involved.

Martin Luther King Jr.

The episode focuses on the different methods for the civil rights movement. King’s is a non-violence approach and believes violence would lead to more problems in the future “tactically and morally it is better to be nonviolent”. On the other hand the episode shifts to see the different point of view of Malcom X and his approach to solving the problem of inequality.

 Malcolm X waiting for a press conference to begin on March 26, 1964

Anytime you tell a man to turn the other cheek, or to be nonviolent in the face of a violent enemy you are making that man defenseless. You are robbing him of his God given right to defend himself.

Malcom X

The excerpt from the interview with Malcom X and Warren depicts how his views do differ from Kings, but he explains how a man should have the right to defend themselves. Malcom X does discuss the different methods that differ from Kings very straightforwardly, but they still agree on the goal of recognizing that African Americans are human beings. The episode ends with explaining how both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X were unfortunately assassinated, but explained the importance of the cause they were fighting for.

Below is the link to the podcast from University of Kentucky’s The Wisdom Project called “Martin Luther King., Malcom X, and Robert Penn Warren” 

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