Malcolm X - The Life of Malcolm X

Malcolm X: Life and Death 1925-1965
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After Malcolm left Laura, she became a Malcolm X (May 19, – February 21, ) was an American Muslim minister and human . In his autobiography, Malcolm X explained that the "X" symbolized the true African family name that he could never know. "For me, my 'X' replaced. Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family's eight.

Here he became embroiled in a life of petty crime, which included prostitution, gambling and narcotics, also managing to avoid being drafted into the military. He moved to Boston, and continued his criminal enterprises, which resulted in his arrest in Boston on 12th January He was convicted of burglary, carrying an illegal firearm and larceny, and sent to Charlestown State Prison for 8 to 10 years. Whilst there he renewed contact with his brother, Reginald, who urged him to join the militant Black Islamic organisation called the Nation Of Islam, headed by Elijah Muhammad, which fought for the political and economic empowerment of African Americans.

NOI claimed that African-Americans had lost their original Muslim faith when sold into slavery from Africa, and advocated a return to their original faith. Malcolm proved a valuable asset to the Nation of Islam; he was an impassioned, articulate orator and over the next decade he was largely responsible for lifting the public profile of the organisation, from an obscure movement of around to a nationally recognised political force with 30, followers. High profile Nation of Islam converts directly attributable to Malcolm included the professional boxing legend, Cassius Clay, who became Muhammad Ali and, by , Malcolm was second only to Elijah Muhammad in influence within the organisation.

Malcolm X had become a media force to be reckoned with. After the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm made an ill-advised speech about Kennedy having been the architect of his own downfall, which caused widespread public consternation, and resulted in a day public speech ban imposed by Muhammad. He respected the ban, but it proved the final straw in his relationship with Muhammad and the Nation of Islam; on 8th March , he publicly split from the organisation, renouncing Muhammad specifically, and the Nation of Islam in general.

He formed his own movement, the Muslim Mosque Inc. Muhammad responded by insisting that Malcolm return all Nation of Islam property, including the home in which he lived in East Elmhurst, New York, which Malcolm refused to do. Relations thereafter became increasingly volatile, and he was the focus of repeated attacks, by members of the Nation of Islam, unable to leave his home without bodyguards.

At the urging of Islamic friends, he made a Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, in April , which affected his political outlook profoundly. On his return he took a new name, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and began preaching a more inclusive, non-violent philosophy that extended beyond the strict racial boundaries of the teachings of the Nation of Islam, although he still maintained that Black people had the right to defend themselves against any White aggressors.

He founded the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, which included all people of African descent in the Western hemisphere, and the tensions between himself and the Nation of Islam increased even further, to the point where the Nation of Islam leadership are alleged to have directly ordered the assassination of Malcolm and his family.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable – review

A fallacy that has grown over the years is that there were three distinct Malcolms: the street thug, the white-hating demagogue and, after his split with the NOI, a liberal integrationist who was in essence a slightly more outspoken Dr King. Regardless of his book's subtitle, Manning convincingly argues that there was in fact a much stronger continuum.

Malcolm whose father was probably murdered by white racists was first of all the child of supporters of the black nationalist Marcus Garvey. And while he softened his position vis-a-vis white America in his post-NOI phase, he remained capable of vehement anti-white rhetoric and overwhelmingly concerned with black power.

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Given his difficult childhood he was taken into care and fostered , and the fierce racism that dominated American civil and political life at the time, his attitudes were not surprising. What was out of the ordinary was the unrelenting determination that Malcolm brought to the business of galvanising black America.

Lacking a formal education, he became a voracious reader and an inspired debater. Manning suggests that Malcolm's youthful appreciation of jazz helped create a vocal rhythm that broke from convention and propelled his speeches with a kind of bebop daring.

Malcolm X and Alex Haley

While Malcolm correctly predicted that black culture would assume a central role in American life, he would never have foreseen the election of a black president. And as is true of many militants, there was no tyrant, however murderous, that he wouldn't praise in the name of anti-imperialism.

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Yet in truth, he outgrew the NOI strategically and intellectually some years before the final breach, and stayed within the organisation, parroting lines for which he felt increasing contempt, out of blind allegiance. Perhaps he knew that to leave was to sign his death warrant. In the NOI's newspaper, a few weeks before Malcolm's murder, one of the group's leading ministers declared: "Such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death.

Malcolm's killing on 21 February in front of a Harlem audience that included his wife and young children has been the subject of sometimes deluded speculation. He was shot down by three men, one of whom, a NOI member, was caught and disarmed by the crowd.

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The two others — whose identities have long been known — escaped, and two entirely innocent men were found guilty and imprisoned in an appalling miscarriage of justice that, ironically, served only to confirm Malcolm's opinion of America's prejudiced legal system. Manning presents a strong case that there was some form of FBI collusion in the murder, if only to the degree that the bureau, which had spies all over the NoI, failed to prevent the plot.

He also floats the probability that at least one of the killers was an FBI informant. Whatever the truth, there is no disputing that Malcolm was shot dead by men who largely shared his beliefs.

Nor that 30 years after his murder more than half a million black men would converge on Washington DC to protest, in the language he made popular, the demonisation and criminalisation of African-American males. The keynote speaker at that "million man march" was Louis Farrakhan. Malcolm, no doubt, would have appreciated history's gift for farce.

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