Peniel E. Joseph in conversation with Dr. Waldo E. Martin Jr.
Thursday, May 7, 2020, 6:00 p.m. PST, Event will be held on Zoom. Click the link in the event description for info.


discussing Peniel E. Joseph's new book

The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

published by Basic Books

This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.


(Click Here) to make reservations

Event is free, but reservations are required


>Purchase the Book Here<


This dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King upends longstanding preconceptions to transform our understanding of the twentieth century's most iconic African American leaders.

To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense vs. nonviolence, black power vs. civil rights, the sword vs. the shield. The struggle for black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright. In The Sword and the Shield, Peniel E. Joseph upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. This is a strikingly revisionist biography, not only of Malcolm and Martin, but also of the movement and era they came to define.

Peniel E. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan professor of political values and ethics at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written several previous books on African American history, including Stokely: A Life. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Waldo E. Martin Jr. is a life long activist and educator. He is the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of American History and Citizenship at the University of California, Berkeley and the author of numerous important books on African American history which include: "No Coward Soldiers: Black Cultural Politics in Postwar America" and as co-author with Joshua Bloom "Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party",


What has been said of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.


"Joseph's fresh and perceptive dual biography may rekindle political unity in a time of increasingly granular identity politics, sensationalism, and fear."—Booklist

"Mr. Joseph, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin, weaves [Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X's] stories fluidly and with vivid detail, helping to strip away the high gloss of mythology."—Wall Street Journal

"As the author delineates the philosophies and tactics of each man, he compares and contrasts them on nearly every page, making the various narrative strands cohere nicely. An authoritative dual biography from a leading scholar of African American history."—Kirkus

"The images of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. may have fallen prey to cliché in our time, but Joseph brings them back to life in this "immensely valuable new book," as Annette Gordon-Reed calls it in her review, showing that they had more in common than is generally believed. "One of the great strengths of this book is the detail with which Joseph supports his thesis," Gordon-Reed writes. "King and Malcolm X may have been polar opposites at the start of their time in the public eye, but they had moved toward each other by the time their lives on the public stage were ended, both by an assassin's bullet." - The New York Times