A retrospective: Malcolm X

Malcolm X‘ was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, and spent his youth growing up in multiple foster homes. At age 19 he was sentenced to prison for burglary/breaking and entering, and in prison he discovered Islam, and he joined the political group, Nation of Islam (NOI) where he changed his name and publicly he became Malcolm X. Elijah Muhammad, who was the leader of the NOI became Malcolm’s mentor after he left prison in 1952.

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” – Malcolm X

Elijah Muhammad preached his own version of Islam where he claimed that whites were inferior, and blacks being the original humans should take back what’s theirs. Of course he gained much sympathy and allegiance as he targeted young black men who were oppressed, who were often Christian who he successfully converted to Islam. The Nation of Islam combined Islam with black nationalism and this ideology appealed to Malcolm, after his brother, Reginald, who was also in prison with him converted. Upon release from prison he created a newspaper for the Nation of Islam called Muhammad Speaks, and every member of the movement was obligated to sell a fixed amount after publication. Malcolm quickly rose through the ranks and became minister at the Temple No. 7 in Harlem, and Elijah Muhammad made him National Representative of the Nation of Islam, his second in command.

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” – Malcolm X

He tirelessly worked to recruit and gain notoriety in his battle against racial hatred and the civil rights movement, and this involved him preaching on the streets of Harlem, and giving public speeches wherever he could. Whilst both him and Martin Luther King Jr. had the same objectives, they were extremely critical of each other’s methods. It was partly due to Malcolm’s pride and persistence that the terms coloured and negro were replaced by African American, or black, as he formed the foundations of black power, and black consciousness.

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X

His relationship with the Nation of Islam became sour, and his relationship with Elijah diminished because of separating views, and he announced his separation in 1964, but remained a Muslim. He founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and went on a pilgrimage to Mecca that all Muslims are required to do at least once in their lives, and he changed his name to el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz.

“I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.” – Malcolm X

In February 1965 he held a rally in New York that’s aim was to unite others for the human rights movement. As he began his speech in front of the small crowd in Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, a man stepped forward brandishing a Sawn-off shotgun and shot Malcolm in the chest. He was then shot another 14 times by other assailants representing the Nation of Islam. His death led to the prominent Black Power movement.

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