the untimely transition of Malcolm X in 1965, movement forces
throughout the world have consistently commemorated his birthday.
Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.
was on February 21, 1965 that Malcolm X was assassinated at the
Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, New York by forces that were trying to
stop his impact on our movement. They were not successful. He will
forever remain our “Shining Black Prince.”
X is a man that should be studied carefully in our efforts to examine
a critical period in our history - the 1960s. For, it was during this
period that Malcolm X became an internationally known and respected
African in America leader, whose ideas were widely discussed and
was through the Nation of Islam, under the leadership of the
Honorable Elijah Muhammad, that Malcolm X was given an opportunity to
develop his tremendous talents as a teacher, researcher, orator, and
X joined the Nation of Islam while in prison in 1952. After his
release in the mid-1950s, Malcolm X became a full–time minister
for the Nation of Islam that became one of the most important
organizations in the history of African in America, people. From his
main base in Harlem, at Mosque Number 7, he launched his talents on
X was a revolutionary who presented a model of Black manhood that
shook the world. When Malcolm X finally left the Nation of Islam,
because of internal differences, he decided to take his first trip to
Mother Africa. Malcolm spent five weeks in Africa, from April 13th to
May 21st, 1964.
trip helped reestablish our links with the movement to reclaim
“Africa for the Africans.” Malcolm met many of the
leaders and people of Africa. He visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt,
Lebanon, Nigeria, Ghana, Monrovia, Liberia, Senegal, Tanzania,
Guinea, Morocco, and Algeria.
trip and subsequent trips abroad helped Malcolm sharpen his
understanding of the worldwide system of white supremacy as the
number one enemy of African people throughout the world. This has not
leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm began to broaden his organizing
strategies by attempting to reach out and work with many of the more
established civil rights organizations and movement tendencies to a
common organizational vehicle. Malcolm began building this vehicle
through his establishment of the Organization for Afro–American
felt that a United Front was the necessary mechanism by which the
political consciousness of African people in America could be raised.
Also, he felt that this United Front would be the common voice we
needed to represent the Black Liberation movement in this country.
Many of us are still working to build this United Front concept of
organizing toward our liberation in America.
the spirit of Malcolm, let us summarize his contributions:
Malcolm X was a concrete example
that if you discipline yourself and find a new outlook on life you
can transform your behavior.
From 1952 - 1963, Malcolm X helped
the Honorable Elijah Muhammad build the Nation of Islam into a
During this same period, Malcolm
became the spokesman for the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the
Nation of Islam, and thus, became a spokesman for the Black
Nationalist Movement in one of the most important periods in our
history— the period of the mid 1950s through the 1960s.
In this role, Malcolm articulated
many important concepts and ideas that helped strengthen the Black
Nationalist Movement in this country, as well as, the Civil Rights
Movement. His speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” still
rings in our ears. His conception of the role of “House
Negroes” vs. “Field Negroes” is still with us
today. And his coining he phrase, “By Any Means Necessary”
are just a few of the ideas and concepts that concretely impacted
the Black movement.
Malcolm X defined Black Nationalism
in simple terminology that appealed to the Black masses when he
said, “the political philosophy of Black nationalism is that
Blacks should control the politics and politicians in our own
community... The economic philosophy of Black Nationalism must be
designed to re–educate our community to the importance of
controlling the economy in which we live by owning and operating the
businesses. The social philosophy of Black nationalism is we must
become socially mature enough to realize the responsibility on us to
elevate the conditions and standards of our community to a higher
Malcolm X linked the Black struggle
in this country with the struggle of African people around the
Malcolm helped shape Black peoples
pride in themselves and by so doing, he exposed, by teaching that
the greatest crime of white people was they taught us to hate
ourselves. It was Malcolm’s spirit that generated the Black
Pride, Black Studies, and Black Power phases of our movement.
on the one hand, Malcolm helped internationalize our struggle and on
the other hand, he linked it up to the mass struggle and issues that
faced our people in America. By taking this approach, Malcolm was
able to provide a basis for the continued historical efforts to build
worldwide African unity.