Episode 18

Welcome to Leadership on Stage and Screen Lecture Podcast, Episode Eighteen.

Civil Rights, MLK, Malcolm X, and Rodney King

When it comes to the Civil Rights movement in the United States, most people immediately think first of Martin Luther King, Jr. His charismatic style of speaking—adapted from his Baptist ministerial training—enabled him to reach out not only to his own congregation…

Visit Blackboard/Podcasts for the whole episode or download here.

The following works were used in this podcast:

Barnes, Brooks. “From Footnote to Fame in Civil Rights History (Published 2009).” The New York Times, November 25, 2009, sec. Books. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/books/26colvin.html.

Hoose, Phillip. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 2009.

IMDB. “Malcolm X.


  1. In what instances do the “good” factors outweigh the bad in terms of effective leadership? For example, Malcolm X was racist towards white people, and fed into their words of hate, and it ended up hurting his vision a lot of the time. Yet he was still a successful activist. How? When even Baldwin denounced him sometimes?

  2. You mention how certain figureheads, like Rosa Parks, are so widely known and talked about when it comes to the civil rights movement because they were more likable for white people in terms of their physical appearance and past actions. I know that when I was being taught in school we only ever talked about Rosa Parks and MLK Jr., never about other important activists such as Malcolm X. Do you find this to still be true today in some capacity? Or has society shifted its stereotypes enough to acknowledge others that have different backgrounds, such as a criminal record, as accepted figureheads?

  3. It is interesting to think that Martin Luther King Jr. Is just a figure head for the movement and there were people behind him pulling the strings. It makes me think of who else History pretends lead the fight. For example, Paul Revere or Christopher Columbus, What other figure heads cover the real heroes?

  4. You mention that the film “Malcolm X” did not originally get funding from Warner Brothers. Have there been studies into this as an act of racism? Spike Lee was already a well-known director at the time and I would think Warner Brothers would have contributed more? It is interesting that they chose to give more money once they saw a clip from the filming, perhaps this is just how funding for movies works, but I am unfamiliar with it.

  5. Funding for the Malcolm X was scarce at first until a few key figures stepped up to assist. After the movie was made how was it recieved, and did it have a large impact on how the social and historical sphere remember Malcolm? I would say that in the long run there is still a lot of correction needed to public perception, but was there a large scale correction in the short term?

  6. Could it be argued that, similarly to the all-too-often unrecognized black women organizers at the core of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement can also be regarded as “invisible leaders,” and their widespread movement a prime example of invisible leadership?

  7. This may be a bit off topic so bare with me – but you say that Malcolm X is less widely known than MLK or Rosa Parks, for example, because they were more likable for white people. I know there must be other examples of this in history. Do you know any other examples of figures / events that have been glossed over due to being controversial?

  8. You briefly mentioned how there was invisible leadership with the example of providing emoltionaland physical support to people after protests. I had no idea that there were groups of individuals who were responsible for that. Could you talk a little bit more on that and how it ran? How would it be different than support that it provided today?

  9. I’m curious to know how this film helped people, in 1992, reconstruct their understanding of the Civil Rights Movement? In the 90s, the national sentiment was generally shifting regarding race and racism, yet the legacy of Malcolm X remained misunderstood. What kind of role did this film play culturally in both white and non-white communities towards making sense of this history?

  10. How did Malcolm X, the movie, change how the American public saw him and his legacy? Did it reinforce what people already believed about him or did it change their perspective?

  11. Do you think groups like Warner Bros was afraid to fund the Malcolm X movie because there are still people who consider Malcolm X (and Spike Lee) harmful in some of the rhetoric used in their work?

  12. I’m really interested in learning what other events and people history books “fluff” or present misleading information on. For example, I had never read about James Baldwin or Whitney Young before leadership classes at UR. Why do we (and U.S. textbooks) focus so deeply on MLK and Malcom X? While I agree they were impactful, there are plenty of arguments in favor of focusing on more impactful people during the civil rights movement.

Leave a Reply