The Parallels of History
Apart from their respective lives of self-sacrifice and devotion to human rights in the case of black people, there seems to be very little that the 19th century abolitionist John Brown and the 20th century activist Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz) would have in common. They are men of different times and historical epochs, and they arose at different stages in the ongoing struggle of black liberation in the United States. In everything from politics to transportation, they are truly men of different worlds. Of course, they are men of different “races” (“race” being a social construction, not a biological fact, I place the word in quotation marks), and therefore had different experiences vis-a-vis “race” and its privileges in a white-centered society. Along with epoch and “race,” there is also the religious factor, Brown having been an evangelical Calvinist Christian, and Malcolm a Muslim.
1. While subsequently embraced by the popular justice movements of their times, neither John Brown nor Malcolm X were ever deeply involved in or committed to those movements. Instead they moved in alternative streams of activism and ideology.