More Malcolm's Year than Martin's

Peter Ling compares the impact of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X on black culture in the 90s.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X meet before a press conference. Both men had come to hear the Senate debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was the only time the two men ever met; their meeting lasted only one minute.A quarter of a century has passed since Martin Luther King was gunned down on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel on April 4th, 1968. That balcony and King's motel room are now the climactic exhibit of Memphis' Civil Rights Museum. As a generation passes, a genuine reverence for the Civil Rights movement mixes with a shrewd sense of tourism. In preparation for the thirtieth anniversary of a notoriously violent protest campaign, Birmingham, Alabama, opened its Civil Rights Institute last autumn. Exhibits include a city prison cell where King wrote his famous 'Letter from Birmingham Jail'. And of course, since 1985, King has been the only African-American, indeed the only twentieth-century American, to be honoured by a federal public holiday.

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