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Remembering Malcom X

Remembering Malcom X

A man in suit thinking

Movements and revolutions are a part and parcel of society, where oppressed classes struggle against their oppressor for freedom and their dignity. These agitations are led by men and women of great knowledge of the world, its history and its politics. They have a charisma that wins over people, a vision of making the world a better place and the will to make it happen. One of such brave leaders, was Malcolm X.  

Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little) was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, to parents Louise Helen Little and Earl Little, both of whom were activists for Black rights. His father was killed in what was ruled a streetcar accident, but his mother believed that he was killed by white supremacists. When X was thirteen, his mother suffered a nervous breakdown, after which she was committed to a mental health institution. He was separated from his six siblings, and all were sent to foster homes. 

He was a bright student in junior high school but dropped out after his teacher hurled racist remarks at him. At this time, he held various jobs and lived first in Boston, and later in Harlem, New York, where he started engaging in crime. In 1946, he was arrested, and sentenced to 8-10 years in prison, for larceny and breaking and entering. 

While he was in prison, he converted to Islam and joined the Nation of Islam, a political organization that combined the elements of Islam and Black nationalism. He made the best use of the books available in prison to educate himself and had even memorized the dictionary. He was also on the prison’s debate team, which would compete with numerous university debate teams. He became a devout Muslim, giving up pork, gambling, and smoking, along with his surname “Little” which was given by previous slave masters, and took on the name, “Malcolm X.” 

Following his release from prison, he joined Elijah Muhammad in propagating the Nation of Islam across the USA. He played a key role in boosting membership and building temples in new cities. He started the organization’s newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, and quickly rose through the ranks of the organization. He was named the National Representative of the Nation of Islam, second only to Elijah Muhammad himself. 

An articulate public speaker with a charismatic personality, Malcolm X used his skills to express the pent-up anger and frustrations of the Black people during the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to 1965. He preached from the streets of Harlem to world class universities such as Harvard and Oxford. 

His intellect, wit, and radicalism made him a strong critic of American society, and he also criticized Martin Luther King Jr’s central notions and nonviolence, arguing that there was more at stake than rights such as sitting in a restaurant and voting. Black identity, integrity, and independence were the main issues in his eyes. 

Through the influence of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X helped to change the terms used to refer to African Americans from “Negro” and “coloured” to “Black” and “Afro-American.” 

In the 1960s, Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad began having differences over the direction of the Nation of Islam, and the rift grew so deep that Malcolm left the Nation of Islam in March 1964. That same year, he went on the Hajj (a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia) and converted to Sunni Islam, and it saw a change in his political beliefs, with him now believing that the solution to racism in the USA lay in orthodox Islam. 

The growing hostility between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam led to him getting death threats, and open violence began against him. He was assassinated on February 21, 1965, when he was delivering a lecture at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. 

Malcolm X is one of the most influential African Americans in history and is credited with increasing Black people’s self-esteem and reconnecting them to their African heritage. He is also largely responsible for the propagation of Islam in the Black community of the USA. 

We pay homage to Malcolm X, a brave Black man who dared to fight against the world for what was the dearest to him: his freedom.