Thinking about Malcolm X fifty years Later

I was intending to post this Saturday, which was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Malcolm X..but family duties and getting ready for another snow/ice storm got in the way. I was still in grade school the first time I heard anyone mention Malcolm. It was my father and his sister Aunt Stella, they were arguing, Dad was saying how he could not stand those “Black Muslims” but somebody needed to say what Malcolm was saying, Aunt Stella just kept saying that her pastor said that Malcolm’s statements actually came straight from the “devil”. It was I think 1959 or maybe 1960.I did not think much about it after that..But in Atlanta where I grew up I would still hear grownups many times speaking in whispers. About the Muslim Minister who made so much sense. As I got older I was scooped up many times by members of the Nation of Islam when they were out “fishing” ….that’s what they called it when they would go out looking for people to bring to one of the temple meetings or on Fridays and Sundays for services. At first I never told my parents where I was going..although they knew I went to hang out with the older guys in SNCC..which they didn’t seem to mind as my father saw a type of nobility in what the SNCC people were doing …he still told me not to let my mother know where I was.But with the “Black Muslims” and later when I was starting to get involved with the Black Panther Party my father “just knew” I was going to get killed or at the very least bring the FBI down on our whole family…Dad would prove to be right about the FBI but that is another story. the first time the guys out fishing brought me to see Malcolm speak it was at Clark College. At first his speech was pretty much the same speech that all the ministers gave…in fact many of the famous quotations attributed to Malcolm today were actually standard phrases all the ministers used..and I mean all of them.. as I must have heard over twenty before I heard Malcolm..It was maybe the third time I went to see Malcolm speak and this would have been about 1963..that Malcolm began to include more than just the standard “Black Muslim” rap….he talked about the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, he talked about wars agaisnt colonialism ..he talked about how Ho Chi Minh had been betrayed after WW I and had not trusted the European again..he opened up a whole international struggle that I had never thought about..Of course when I would go back and talk to many of the SNCC guys about this it made me seem knowledgeable beyond my years. And those of you who knew me back then may remember how it scared many of the teachers at our high school. ….It was right after this that Malcolm left the Nation of Islam..and I began to follow every thing he did or said..most notably how Malcolm had begun to reject much of the teachings of Elijah Muhammad …I looked forward to the next time Malcolm came to Atlanta to speak……..It never happened….in 1965 just before Malcolm was killed I did get to see him again …you can read about our meeting by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post…but fifty years ago it was a Sunday and I was on the way home from church with my Mother and my siblings when the news came over the radio that Malcolm had been killed…in the same hall he had me passing out leaflets about… I went into a real depression for days after…but some good came out of this… about two weeks later I agreed to go to Selma Alabama on my first real civil rights march…..That was March 7th 1965…it became known as “Bloody Sunday” That was the attempted march where we were gassed, beaten, and I was trampled by a horse… was never the same. You can read about my meeting with MalcolmĀ  hereĀ