NEW YORK (PIX11) — Black history is being rewritten regarding the relationship between two icons of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
For decades, we’ve been led to believe that Dr. King had the harshest criticism of the Muslim leader, accusing him of “fiery, demagogic oratory.” But new revelations now show those words were fabricated.
In the course of researching his new book, “King, A Life,” author Jonathan Eig found multiple inaccuracies in a 1965 Playboy interview King did with author Alex Haley, including quotes he never made.
Eig told PIX11 News, “King is quoted as saying ‘I wish Malcolm X would talk less of violence. I don’t think violence can solve our problem.’ He did not say that. He said something about the Nation of Islam. The quotes were doctored.”
Coming through Haley’s archives at Duke University, Eig found an unedited transcript of the full interview showing King as much more open-minded about Malcolm than the published interview portrayed him.
“Because this was such a long interview I wanted to see what was left out. I found that in addition to stuff he left out, there was a lot of stuff he changed and a lot of stuff he made up,” Eig said.
Malcolm X frequently attacked King and his commitment to non-violence, going so far as to call him “a modern Uncle Tom.”
King and Malcolm met only once in 1963. While Dr. King was not afraid to criticize the Nation of Islam leader, he was also willing to listen to him. King scholars claim Haley’s fabrication of quotes changes the way they’ll teach the history of the civil rights struggle.
“This should change the way we teach about black history,” Eig maintains. “For too long we taught that King and Malcolm were divided rivals when in fact, they had a lot in common.”
Malcolm’s daughter Illysah Shabazz was surprised and pleased to learn of the new revelations.
In a statement to PIX11 News, she said, “There has always been and effort to create a narrative of deep division between Reverend King and my father when in reality they sought the same goal of creating a better life for their people and for the advancement of human rights for all people in the United States.”
Though King had better thoughts of Malcolm X than previously believed and may have even considered some alliance with him, that never would have happened, Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, just one month after the King interview was published.
Jonathan Eig’s book, “King, A Life,” is scheduled to be released next week.