Happy Birthday to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
Posted by Jack Stephens on May 21, 2008
In honor of this blogs namesake.
In honor of what would have been Malcolm X’s 83rd birthday, Villager has compiled a phenomenal list of links to some of his famous speeches and interviews, including “Ballot or the Bullet,” “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?” and “House Negroes vs. Field Negroes.” He’s also leading a discussion about how this man has touched the lives of so many people through his voice, his fire, and his life.
Happy birthday, Brother; your spirit lives on.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one of the defining books in my life. The first time I read it, I was nine. Even now, though I haven’t picked it up in about five years, I can still remember whole passages by heart, and the basic wording of much more. What I find interesting is that as I grew older, my interpretation and understanding of the book changed. When I was younger, I was enthralled by ex-criminal, black nationalist Malcolm X; as I got older I began to wonder more about his transformation to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, his journey to Mecca, and his change in mindset and focus. It is his journey that inspires my own.
Many of our modern leaders live by cynical double standards. They practice slippery personal ethics, while lecturing the masses about morality. They consume conspicuously, while telling ordinary folks to save their pennies. They father children outside of marriage, then blame single mothers for the violence in black communities. They blame individuals for their circumstances, rather than help them deconstruct, understand and overcome the historical, structural, political, reasons for their plight.
Malcolm taught us better. He criticized the powerful rather than the powerless. He pointed to the pathologies of the privileged instead of the failings of the oppressed. His own story of redemption was emblematic of the possibilities available to even the most disempowered, but when he pointed to solutions, they were consistently collective.
Miss Jones blogs:
…very few people, even those who claim to love him, have taken the time to learn more about what he believed and what he did over his lifetime. There was more to Malcolm X than his views on race; his leadership style is something to admire. Too often, as I have written about here, older leaders are inaccessible because they are spoken about as though they are angels who neither grow nor change over their lifetime. However, Malcolm X never hid the fact that he made mistakes and that he was constantly learning and growing nor that he expected people to take ownership of their lives.
Mr. Shadow blogs:
Above all we must understand what Malcolm stood for: justice, freedom and equality for Africans in America and abroad. It is for this he fought and it is for this that he died.
I think it is appropriate to end this post with the spiritually moving eulogy at Malcolm’s funeral given by our late elder, actor and activist Ossie Davis.