February 23, 2005
In his controversial book Black Marxism, Cedric Robinson argues that “the roots of Western racism took hold in European civilization well before the dawn of capitalism” (Kelley, 2000: 12). In a differing approach from George Frederickson to the overlaps of racism and capitalism in the occupation of America, Robinson points out that “… the tendency of European civilization through capitslim was thus not to homogenize but to differentiate – to exaggerate regional subcultural, and dialectical differences into “tacial” ones. (Robinson 26) The dilemma observed by the two intellectuals permeates the literature on the two movements that arose as a response to both instances of the system of white supremacy, as is expressed in King’s undecided observation: “Most of us are not capitalists, we’re just potential capitalists” (Garrow, 41)
This paper examines the different social forces – racial makeup of the workforce, ideaological relationship to communism and forms of radical socialism, use of the church, and its position in the post-WW2 international political area – that surrounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the African National Congress, and how these differences are manifested through strategies adopted by Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King and their advisors.