Spring 2023 - HIST 440 D100

Selected Topics in US History (4)

Myths and Realities of Martin L.King & MalcolmX

Class Number: 4899

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Fri, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including nine units of lower division history.



An examination of selected topics in United States history. Content may vary from offering to offering. See course outline for further information. HIST 440 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


The Myths and Realities of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Without a doubt, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. are the most iconic figures of the civil rights era in the United States. Both men have been memorialized in t.v., film, and music; on postage stamps; by street names; and, in King’s case, by a national holiday. Despite this recognition, the facts of their life have been hidden or distorted by mythology, including a predominant one about their binary opposition. These simplistic renderings obscure what are much more complex and interesting life stories than popular and official memory has allowed. This course will examine both men’s lives, exploring the similarities and differences in their ideas and their activism, as well as their rise to fame (or infamy). This course will offer students a new lens through which to understand African American history and the history of race in the United States.


  • Informed and Enthusiastic Participation 25%
  • 2 Short Papers 15%
  • Term Paper Proposal 5%
  • Annotated Bibliography 20%
  • Term Paper 35%


Course Requirements, as above, subject to minor revision.



*Please note that both of these books are required for the course. Lewis is available free as an electronic resource through the library. Marable is not available through the library. Both books are readily available electronically or as hard copies through your favourite bookseller.

David Levering Lewis, King: A Biography (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2013).

Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (New York: Penguin Books, 2011).

Additional course readings will be available through the course Canvas page.  


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html