In the summer of 2005, I had the privilege to attend the Tennessee American Legion Boys State program where I learned about state government, took part in leadership activities, and became more aware of what role I could play in the American political system. This particular summer stands out to me because during this summer program, I began to think critically about Martin Luther King and understand the radical negotiations he made as one of the leading figureheads of the Civil Rights Movement.
As fate would have it, I came in contact with a group of young black men who I shared many intellectual conversations with as we exchanged ideas over subjects ranging from American Presidents, slave revolts, and black power movements . One conversation, in particular, stands out in my memory. One of my peers who attended MLK Magnet High School in Nashville, Tennessee said, “If there was a Malcolm X high school, I’d go there instead of MLK. I just don’t get how he could preach non-violence while everyone was getting sprayed with water hoses and beat down. I don’t like it. I don't like it.”
There was silence in the room. Then, another one of my brothers stated, “We’re here learning about government and how radical the ‘American Dream’ is supposed to be. I don’t want to get into the argument of saying one leader was better than the other. I do want to say, though, let’s not forget there is something very radical about organizing the masses—especially the black masses.” That thought has stuck with me and has informed views of King and Malcolm even to this day.
To honor the legacy of Martin Luther King and celebrate the national holiday, I have compiled a list of rare videos of King on YouTube. The excerpts from his speeches present King through a more radical lens. I picked these videos in hopes of offering a more comprehensive view of the Civil Rights Movement, the 1960s, and King himself.