As a product of historical revisionism, the public has begun to see Dr. King and Malcolm X as polar opposites. Dr. King is seen as a capitulate and begging white people for acceptance. Malcolm X is seen as someone staunchly focused on self-determination and separation. In reality, their philosophies are closely linked. One example of that was their views on the death of John F Kennedy.
Dr. King said in the book Why We Can’t Wait the following on Kennedy’s death:
The unforgivable default of our society has been its failure to apprehend the assassins (of murdered Civil Rights leaders). It is a harsh judgment, but undeniably true, that the cause of the indifference was the identity of the victims. Nearly all were Negroes. And so the plague spread until it claimed the most eminent American, a warmly loved and respected president.
These words show that King understood Kennedy as a victim of racialized violence, that Kennedy had a hand in helping spread. Some of the Civil Rights leaders King’s mentions as being killed were killed during Kennedy’s presidency. So King is saying that America’s history of racialized violence killed Kennedy.
The infamous “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” quote was given after Malcom X complete a speech in December of 1963. A reporter asked how he felt about Kennedy’s death. In response he said the following:
Being an old farm boy myself, chickens coming home to roost never made me sad; they only made me glad.
The Nation of Islam silenced him for 90 days for this remark. Once the period of silence was over Malcolm X explained to reporters what he meant. He told the reporter he saw the assassination as the result of racialized violence that had been prominent in America since its founding. The same thing Dr. King said.
So King and Malcolm X differed in oratory style, not philosophy. Their philosophy is strikingly similar once one reads both men.
While on the subject of the “chickens come home to roost” quote. It was given after a speech called God’s Judgement of White America. The lecture explains his stance on separation.
Many internet commentators have misrepresented what Malcolm X meant by separation. The commentators say Malcolm X wanted black people to separate without getting their share of wealth from the America they helped to build. The reader can find a link to the full speech below.
Malcolm X wanted blacks to confront the power structure to obtain their share of the wealth America had accumulated on our labor. The wealth could be used to go back to Africa or build an independent nation in America.
To not petition America for our fair share wealth is not militant or radical. It is a capitulation. So again King and X both believed in reparations. The difference is the method of compensation. X wanted to build a separate nation. King wanted to make a welfare state in America that included other races.