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For this assignment, you will write an essay analyzing two interviews—with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. This is a little different from the usual assignment comparing their ideas (something I suspect that you have probably done before!). It’s not a general essay on non-violence and self-defense, it’s an analysis of these specific documents.
As you watch/listen, imagine what it would have been like to see these interviews in 1963. Imagine if this were the first time that you have seen or heard either man speak. You would probably know a little about both and you would know about the recent events that preceded the interview. Both men were being interviewed in 1963, so a listener would know about recent successes and failures of the movement and about the violent resistance it has encountered from whites in the south and the action/inaction of the Kennedy administration. The latter—white violence—would surely be at the front of any listener’s mind in 1963. The future would also be on any listener’s mind—how are things going to change in the short term and in the long term? What solutions are these men offering?
From that standpoint, I want you to watch these interviews, treating them as primary documents that tell us something about these two leaders in 1963, and write an essay that is based on these documents. This is very important! Your essay must be based primarily on the documents and should draw heavily on them for evidence to support your analysis.
Your essay should address 2 topics :
First, how did each man talk about racism in the United States in 1963? How do Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X address/define/explain racism in 1963 and what to do about it? How did they address history or events that would have immediately preceded these interviews in the US? Did they have anything in common? Did they offer a solution and how did they make a case for their position?
Second, your essay should also analyze the “visual” or performative elements of each man’s style. Both men had very distinctive ways of speaking and delivering their message. Think about how each man interacted with interviewers, how they responded to challenging questions, and their speaking styles generally. How does the demeanor or their style of speaking reinforce or contribute to what they were saying here? They were often portrayed in the media as polar opposites of each other. Seeing these samples of them speaking, do you think that it was their words or their styles or both that contributed to that media portrayal?
Two interviews are found below