Peniel E. Joseph on MLK and Malcolm X, with David Levering Lewis

NOV 19, 2020 | 6:00 PM TO 7:00 PM

Peniel E. Joseph David Levering Lewis



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue


November 19, 2020: 6:00 PM-7:00 PM




Leon Levy Center for Biography



Peniel E. Joseph's dual biography of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, The Sword and the Shield, 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. 

Dr. Peniel E. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in Political Values and Ethics at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and professor of history and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin. A frequent national commentator on issues of race, civil rights, and democracy and a contributing opinion writer for whose work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, NPR, CNN, MSNC, PBS NewsHour, and C-SPAN, Joseph is the author and editor of six books on African American history, including the award winning Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America and Stokely: A Life. 

David  Levering Lewis, professor emeritus of history at NYU, is the author of King: A Biography (now in its third edition) and The Improbable Wendell Willkie: The Businessman Who Saved the Republican Party and His Country, and Conceived a New World Order (Liveright). His two-volume life of W.E.B. DuBois was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for both volumes of his biographies of W.E.B. DuBois.