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Est. April 5, 2002
March 01, 2018 - Issue 731

Put A Torch To The Robes Of Mourning
The Liberator - April 1965
By Dr. Carlos E. Russell, PhD

Let not the lion sleep!

To fight, that he may live,

Is a promise we must keep.

Note: The poem below by Dr. Russell appeared in the first issue of The Liberator in April of 1965 that was published after the murder of Malcolm X on February 21, 1965.

Put a torch to the robes of mourning,

And don your sheath of armor,

Listen for his clarion’s blast,

For he is not dead my brothers,

His silenced voice,

Can still be heard,

Within the confines

Of our hearts.

Put a torch to the robes mourning…

For he is amongst us still.

Look in the eyes,

Of those who pass,

Along the ghetto streets,

And every black MAN

That you meet, Bid him but to speak,

And Malcolm’s booming voice,

Will echo through the streets.

Put a torch to the robes of mourning…

For the earth, in whose breast

Our warrior rests,

Battle-scarred, but not vanquished,

Will blossom,

With his love for us.

Put a torch to the robes of mourning…

For he is not dead I say.

You can feel him when your blood

Rushes through your veins,

And every drop,

That’s filled with fire,

Is but a semblance of his name.

Put a torch to the robes of mourning…

For he would not have us weep.

My brothers,

Let not the lion sleep!

To fight, that he may live,

Is a promise we must keep.


Below is a commentary by Dr. Russell containg his thoughts about the death of Malcolm X.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

When Malcolm was murdered I was a young man o 30 years. Like most young people at the time, I too was rebellious… I too did not trust too many folks over 30. What silly youthful irony! Yet, I entered the “Theresa Hotel” with trepidation, awe, incredulity and, of course, filled with the false sense of arrogance of my age. I left, as anyone who has spent any significant time in his presence, has; mesmerized by his brilliance, gentility, the love he expressed for our people and, for me, equally important, his moral strength and sense of purpose. His assassination increased my involvement in the struggle for Liberation of African people. Ergo my poem!

So many others, young and old, men and women, have perished or languish in jail or exiled for believing and fighting for what an “old man" who, according to the historian Lerone Bennett, said, and I paraphrase, "Racism is Evil kill it". He too lies "smoldering in his grave" Rest well John Brown… You earned it!

Not so long ago, Harry Belafonte, that unselfish giant of a man - intellectually, politically, morally and artistically – without whom, many suggest, Dr. king would have been devoid of a movement - upon approaching 90 years of age introspectively mused "Where lie the rebel hearts?". Lamentably, they are so few.

THANK YOU BLACK LIVES MATTER! Guest Commentator, Dr. Carlos E. Russell, PhD is Professor Emeritus C.U.N.Y. - Brooklyn College. In the sixties, he served as an Associate Editor of the Liberator magazine. As such, he was one of the first to interview Malcolm X after he left the Nation. He is best remembered as the founder of Black Solidarity Day in New York in 1969 and as the Chair of the Black Caucus of the Conference on New Politics in 1967. In addition, he was a consultant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the planning for the Poor Peoples March. Excerpts of his participation can be seen in Citizen King and Eyes on the Prize (PBS Mini Series Boxed Set). Born in the Republic of Panama, he has served as that country’s representative to the U.N and the O.A.S. with the rank of Ambassador. He has also served as the nightly host of “Thinking it Through” a talk show that was aired on WLIB in New York. He is a playwright and poet as well. Contact Dr.Russell.

This is a new BC feature. If you have a publication from the past you can scan and send us a copy or can provide a link to something you think is a good fit, please do.  Thanks.




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