Who was Malcolm X?
Malcolm X was born ‘Malcolm Little’ in Nebraska in 1925. He was a renowned African American Activist, made famous by his Islamic beliefs and as well, his call to black Americans to use whatever means necessary to achieve racial equality and respect.
In this post, we will explore the reasons why the world seems to be writing Malcolm X off history, and why schools have to teach his story to inspire change to young minds.
Growing up, Malcolm X experienced in deep detail, the suffering of a young black man in a white society. His father was tragically killed in what is described as a racist attack when Malcolm was six. According to Malcolm, this made his family lose direction and pride.
Eventually, his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted into a psychiatric facility. Young Malcolm was thus left to be raised by white foster families, learning very little about the tribulations of the black race.
His was a difficult childhood, marred by loss, pain, and hatred, and it greatly influenced his youth. Malcolm dropped out of school, engaged in crimes and drugs that eventually led to 10-year imprisonment.
In prison is where the Malcolm X we know of was born, and his life took a different direction. It was in prison that he learned about the Nation of Islam.
To learn more about Malcolm X – Check out our eBooks!
When Malcolm X Joined The NOI
When he was paroled, Malcolm immediately joined the Nation of Islam and practised the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the group’s leader. His need for belonging and changing the fate of the black race inspired him to quickly rise through the ranks of the Nation of Islam, eventually becoming its most famous minister to date.
At the beginning of his career, Malcolm X advocated for complete separation between whites and blacks, creating a nation of black people within the US as plans to repatriate them back home to Africa were made.
This advocacy drew attention to Malcolm and the Nation of Islam, but it also made the foundation of his dismissal as someone capable of bringing change that could better the black race.
When he realized it, as well, he deflected from the group, made the pilgrimage to Mecca, changed his name, and adopted a new kind of activism that brought together politics and religion.
Malcolm though, believed Islam was the best religion to bring blacks together. He aligned himself with civil rights groups that were aggressive to achieve desired results.
X particularly questioned Martin Luther King’s nonviolent activism noting that the only way whites would feel obliged to respect blacks is if they understand the lengths the blacks were willing to go, even if it required violent action. After he had adopted a new style of activism, Malcolm was gruesomely assassinated before he could realize his dreams.
Why White People Don’t Like Malcolm X But Love MLK
In a world where the black man is expected to fail, Malcolm did not, but instead, he was discredited for challenging the white man’s authority and power. He advocated for the black people to defend their race if they had to, and this did not sit well not only with the white government but also with a section of the black race, including Martin Luther King.
King particularly said any form of retaliation by the black people would only bring them more pain and suffering. Martin Luther King was not in the agreement that we should demand equality by any means necessary and that non-violence was the only way.
To Malcolm X, his method was a way to make blacks know they had a choice, that they could stand up for themselves and defend how they were going to be governed. Rather than simply take a passive stance and beg for equality.
Why schools should teach children about Malcolm X
Malcolm X’s story is very inspiring and should be taught to students as such. He was a visionary who grew up seeing and experiencing hate from the community and system. Despite everything, he dreamt for his people; he sought wisdom from many sources, aimed to improve himself so he could improve his people.
He proved there is more than one way to get desired results, that people can be different in ideologies and aim for the same thing. Violent retaliation was not the best solution for the oppressed black race then, and neither is it now.
However, Malcolm himself was not an advocate of violence; he was an advocate of equality and development; both skills that young people today have to learn.
While his style, beliefs, and ideologies differed significantly to those of Martin Luther King, they both commanded respect, oozed wisdom, and hoped for a better black race.
That both were assassinated before they could inspire more change is testament to the nature of the fight for racial inequality and respect for human life. We must reiterate – they were BOTH assassinated by the government.
Both non-violent and so-called violent approaches made these black men a threat to white supremacy. However, today, one is championed and not the other.
Never has anyone cast doubt on Martin’s intentions; his call for black empowerment was restricted to the white government’s comfort zone which made him the best black activist then, and also reduced his activism to a dream.
Malcolm asked for whatever means necessary for the black man to be respected and valued, which did not make him evil. As is the case with African freedom fighters like Dedan Kimathi or Mekatilili wa Menza of Kenya, sometimes any means necessary is the only option.
Malcolm X had his way of thinking, his idea of a better America. It was different from other civil rights groups leaders, but he dreamt of a better country, race, and world.
His story needs to be taught in schools as it is vital in the development of racial relations in the US. He made the ultimate sacrifice as a leader and a freedom fighter. His efforts need to be recognized if an accommodative society is to be achieved.
We need to show our children how important it is to understand all parties, to listen to what they propose, and to respect their dreams and ambitions without imposing our ideologies, or preferred methods on them.