BETWEEN CROSS AND CRESCENT: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin

Lewis V. Baldwin, Author, Amiri YaSin Al-Hadid, Joint Author, Stephen Ward Angell, Foreword by . Univ. Press of Florida $34.95 (475p) ISBN 978-0-8130-2457-8

Professors Baldwin and Al-Hadid, at Vanderbilt and Tennessee State Universities respectively, persuasively argue that El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (better known as Malcolm X) and Martin Luther King Jr. shared the same views about the American and worldwide race struggle at their deaths. They offer refreshing biographical insights based on exhaustive research. With the exception of one chapter, which eloquently describes Malcolm X's evolution from Nation of Islam doctrine into Sunni Islam, each chapter presents both men's views on specific topics. The historical material is laced with an overview of contemporary events such as the Million Man March, the United Nations World Conference on Racism and the attacks on America on September 11. The most satisfying portraits emerge out of the chapters on El-Shabazz's and King's relationships with their wives and children. Stronger editing would have eliminated repetition, unnecessary length and a lack of focus. A clear description of how NOI doctrine differs from Islam is missing, leaving the uninformed reader to assume that Sunni Muslims share the NOI's views on race and gender. Baldwin and Al-Hadid show a bias toward King, glossing over his extramarital affairs and plagiarism while extensively quoting El-Shabazz's more incendiary remarks. The authors illustrate how El-Shabazz and King, though not reluctant leaders, unwillingly became prisoners of circumstance—El-Shabazz by NOI doctrine and King by white liberals. That these leaders' message still resonates is proof of how profound and gifted they both were, and how much has been left undone since their deaths. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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