Thursday, May 22, 2014

Advancing Malcolm's work...

Typically, when there are ceremonies honoring Malcolm X, there are subtle reminders about Malcolm X as an iconized mythical figure.  Dr. Peniel Joseph, Professor of History at Tufts University, recently wrote: “In death, Malcolm became larger than he had been in life. Black radicals embraced him as the revolutionary avatar of black liberation in America and around the world. His posthumously published autobiography became a best-seller, and his legacy inspired numerous books, a U.S. postage stamp, a major motion picture and a Malcolm X revival during the early 1990s,” Dr. Peniel continues, “In 2014 Malcolm X matters now more than ever. His political integrity and personal sincerity set a high bar for all future black leaders. His identification with, and love for, the black working class set an enduring standard. Malcolm didn’t just love black people—he respected them enough to challenge them, offering stinging criticism in some instances and gentle prodding in others.”

Let’s grapple with the first sentence for a moment…Malcolm became larger than he had been in life – there may be good reason for this. For example, the influence that Malcolm's work had, not only on the formation of Black Power and Black Liberation movements but on the civil rights movement as well. Organizations such as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE),  the Black Panthers, Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and the Republic of New Afrika to name a few were all inspired and shaped by Malcolm's Black Nationalism. 

When you can begin to understand the pivotal role these movements, organizations and individuals had in carrying this struggle foward – then you can begin to understand exactly what Malcolm X meant to so many who advanced and carried his work forward.  That would begin to explain why the Brother Minister grew larger in death.  But there’s more…

Malcolm X spoke about bringing the case of American apartheid and racial genocide to the United Nations to be heard before the world.  This work continues today among the followers of Malcolm's philosophies and theories.  Consider for a moment the work of organizations such as the International Association against Torture, National Black United Front (NBUF) and the December 12th Movement International Secretariat; the 2001 United Nations Conference against Racism – where the world witnessed the Caribbean nations united with African nations and their clarion call for reparations.  What happened at that 2001 conference? - Slavery was declared a crime against humanity!  Another manifestation of Malcolm's philosophy was  the appointment of a Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The Special Rapporteur serves as an independent human rights expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. See the 2009 report by the Special Rapporteur after his 2008 visit to various cities, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami documenting, interviewing and collecting information regarding the incidents of racism. Keep in mind that this work with the United Nations is linked to the advancing the reparations movement and building bridges with Caribbean and African nations,  to secure the release of all political prisoners – all of this work has some of the ideological roots from Malcolm X. 

The truth is celebrations can last for days but the work…the real work is perpetual.  Today – in 2014 – the stakes are arguably higher now as a new generation slowly emerges and are faced with escalated methods of criminalization, lack of justice from the courts, increasing gentrification, substandard schools and housing, booming unemployment and underemployment. While these are just some of the realities affecting black communities all across the country – we're told that black politics is dead while simutaneously distracted by the likes of elevator fights and reality television! Mr. James Small, CEO of the Organization of African American Unity (OAAU) once said:  “Malcolm was speaking to young people, he was causing them to question the institutions they were living under,” concluded Small. “Malcolm’s legacy today is that you have to fight to change your world to be what you want it to be. If you don’t fight to change it – and he was very clear on the areas to be changed; economics, politics, cultural –then you will suffer the consequences of oppression. He’s the best example of the courage Black people need to develop if they’re going to change the world for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!”

Across the country, there are many events - festivals, parades, films, and ceremonies designed to  recognize and honor El-Hajj Malik Shabazz  - on his birthday – May 19th.  But the truth is that celebrations can last for days but the work…the real work is perpetual.  There is much to learn from reading Malcolm X and about Malcolm X…THE BLACKBOARD put together a short list of books that can assist in shaping and building the necessary framework to properly analyze Malcolm and his work.

  1. Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley as told to by Malcolm X
  2. Ghosts of My Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England and the Caribbean, by Jan Carew
  3. Malcolm X; The Man and his Times by John Henrik Clarke
  4. The True Political Philosophy of Malcolm X by YN Kly
  5. Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X by Karl Evanzz
  6. Conspiracies: Unravelling the assassination of Malcolm X, By Zak Kondo
  7. The Portable Malcolm X Reader, edited by Manning Marable and Garrett Felber
  8. Malcolm X: A life of Reinvention, by Manning Marable
  9. By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X Real, Not Reinvented, edited by Herb Boyd
  10. A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X, by Jared Ball and Todd Burroughs
  11. Malcolm X: The Great photographs, by Thulani Davis
See The Blackboard's multimedia page for a video and photo gallery of Malcolm X and The Blackboard's Facebook page for more links to Malcolm's speeches.   

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