Professor James Cone's book Martin and Malcolm and America: A Dream or A Nightmare? provides insights for "racial reconciliation" activists about why Minister Malcolm X/El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz may be such a popular image for African-American youth and young adults. He also creates constructs that offer reflections on why Rev. Dr. M.L. King Jr. similarly is a popular image among African Americans and white Americans alike. In essence, the author graphically leads the reader to a level of consciousness that allows him or her to perceive Malcolm and Martin not as "adversaries" in ideology, but as "companions" who marched different paths toward liberation for black peoples of the Americas and the world.
Early in the book, Cone offers a description of these freedom-fighters' childhood experiences. The joyful and painful benchmark moments for Malcolm X and Martin King are carefully examined. Through such a presentation the reader gains access to possible internal and external forces that may have predisposed both men for the particular journeys they traveled in the liberational movement.
The ideological premises upon which both freedom fighters stood are thoroughly compared. In a healthy overview of various beliefs held by Malcolm X (later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) and Martin King, the differing definitions of "liberation" are examined. More important, the author gives wonderful handles for perceiving the utility in differing methodologies for attaining black-American liberation.