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Malcolm's period prior to and after joining the Nation of Islam has been well

documented. The petty thief reformed. The unconscious negro made conscious.





Books by & About Malcolm X

Malcolm X: The Man and His Times  /  Seventh Child: A Family Memoir of Malcolm X  / Martin and Malcolm and America 

Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean

 The Black Muslims in America The Autobiography of Malcolm X  / Malcolm X Speaks / By Any Means Necessary

February 1965: The Final Speeches

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Malcolm X Is Dead!

By Amin Sharif


Even before Spike Lee's movie, Malcolm X was already becoming an icon within the Black Community. A younger generation was already adopting the "X" as a symbol of their disaffection with an American society, both black and white, that would not or could not understand them, educate them, or simply love them. For a former generation of followers, Malcolm was the ultimate Black Man. Though not as widely admired as Dr. King, Malcolm was just as passionately loved by  those who knew him. He was the bedrock and the touchstone of a political movement known in the 1960s as Black Nationalism and a cultural movement known as the Black Arts Movement (BAM).

Though these movements' seeds were sown in the soil of slavery's rebellions, not since David Walker or Marcus Garvey had a male of African descent so scathingly attacked the entire American political, cultural, and social system. It was Malcolm's voice, alone it seemed at the times, that called for symbolic, as well as actual, destruction of all that was viewed as American. At least, that's what Malcolm said he wanted to do while he was within and soon after he left the Nation of Islam.

Malcolm's period prior to and after joining the Nation of Islam has been well documented. The petty thief reformed. The unconscious negro made conscious. All this we know about Malcolm. Or, at least, we think we do. Still there are those who would today deny what Malcolm learned from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad as having any value to Malcolm in his latter years. They see Malcolm only as the end product, as the sum total of his life's experience. 

Such a view of Malcolm is like seeing a three-layered cake covered with icing and topped with candles, and not acknowledging that these were ingredients such as eggs, milk, flower, etc. that went into bringing the cake into existence. The acknowledgement that Malcolm's relationship to the Nation of Islam was for the most part positive has been drowned out by the accusations that the Nation of Islam was the nexus for Malcolm's assassination. But despite what role that the Nation of Islam might or might not have played in Malcolm's death, it must still be acknowledged that the Nation of Islam did play a vital role in Malcolm's life! The truth is that much of what Malcolm became was based on what he learned from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad!!

Once Malcolm was dead and the finger was pointed at the Nation of Islam, many of Malcolm's own followers forgot what their leader was before his conversion to the Nation of Islam. They forgot that Malcolm was a self-admitted criminal with little or no regard for his people. This Malcolm was erased from their memory. Only the iconic firebrand of their cause remained. Malcolm the black revolutionary was much more preferred by his well-meaning followers than Malcolm the Black Muslim.

Oddly enough, many in the Nation of Islam, long after Malcolm had left their ranks, tried to hold on to Malcolm the Black Muslim. They insisted that Malcolm was solely the product of his experience and training in the Nation of Islam. To believe this is to believe that Malcolm never entertained an idea that was not passed down to him by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. We know that history does not bear this out. Malcolm was no robot. He and his mentor had many disagreements over many things. 

After all, these were two strong-willed Black men. Clearly, Malcolm's conversion to Orthodox Islam stands as proof that he had more than a few ideas of his own about who he was and where he was going.

It is Malcolm's conversion to Orthodox Islam that represents the most problematic period of his life for many of his admirers. Even when this period is acknowledged by Malcolm's followers, it is usually set aside as a personal choice that could be separated out from his political aims. To a certain extent, this analysis it true. Malcolm did plan, after all, to be the head of two distinctly different organizations--the Organization of African American Unity (OAAU) and Muslim Mosques, Inc. Still it cannot be denied that whatever Malcolm acknowledged as his political aims (and these aims were modified with every stage of his development), he fully embraced Islam, in some form or another, during all of the productive years of his life.

Indeed, Malcolm once said that he thought that Orthodox Islam might be a way to derail what he saw as the coming race war in America. Only in hindsight can we now say that this statement might have been a bit over-reaching. But to speak of Malcolm without his life in the Nation of Islam and his conversion to Orthodox Islam is, again, like trying to talk about a cake without discussing all of its ingredients.

The collision of Malcolm's personal choice to be Muslim and his political choice to be revolutionary is where misunderstandings about him arise. This point must be stressed. Malcolm was all of his political life a revolutionary. This is just as undeniably true as the fact that his productive years were formed in the womb of the Nation of Islam and that he experienced a phase shift in his religious life at Mecca.

That these three aspects of Malcolm's life are interconnected and inseparable seem to be lost on many people, specially young African Americans who are enthralled with the commercial cult of Malcolm X. Without taking into account all the phases of his life--including his years as a petty criminal, his marriage to Betty Shabazz, and the birth of their children--one cannot speak of Malcolm X the man.. One is only left to pontificate on the separate and iconized aspects of his life

Many Black Nationalists and Marxists Revolutionaries (new and old) loath that Malcolm (the man) could be Islamic, revolutionary, and Afro-centric at the same time. Indeed, some say that Islam and the Afro-centric view are incompatible. That the super-black Malcolm could have a spiritual nexus that originated in Arabia and not in Black Africa is more than most Afro-centric advocates can bear. And when they raise their iconized Malcolm as a hero, they use the same method as the Marxists. They both accept only that part of Malcolm's life that suit their purpose. The whole Malcolm is of no use to them. Thus, to all those who would make of him their own personal icon--whether they be in the Nation of Islam or in the remnants of the revolutionary movements in and outside of Black America--the real Malcolm X is dead! 

This whole, real Malcolm is dead even for some of Malcolm's African-American Muslim followers. For there are some in these ranks who would deny that Malcolm was ever a revolutionary and believe that he was misguided by his experiences in the Nation of Islam. Yet it is clear that the last place Malcolm was headed for when he was released from prison was Mecca, at least, not the Mecca of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). When it comes to Malcolm, there can be little doubt that almost every sector of Black America has made him into less a man and more an icon. And. this iconic Malcolm must die!

Why must the iconic Malcolm die? Without the death of this Malcolm, we will never see the real man adorned in his warts and glory. Can we rail against white America's iconization of history and then not see Malcolm in flesh and blood? Nor does it do us any good to compare the iconic Malcolm with other more human leaders. For each leader, whether we will acknowledge it, has tried to do what they thought was best for our people. Malcolm said in the last days of his life that negative criticism was nothing more than another form of backbiting. And, of course, Malcolm was right.

The final and most compelling reason for the death of the iconic Malcolm is that such an icon was never needed. We live in a world where our leaders are made of flesh and blood. As such our political leaders are and will forever be imperfect men and women. They are prone, as any human is, to make errors. This does not mean that we will not praise them  or love them. We shall do so when such praise and love is due. This does not mean we will not take them to task. We shall and we must criticize our leaders when we feel they are wrong. But we shall and must be principled in making such criticism. 

We must always be careful to tell our children that our political leaders are no more than flesh, blood, and spirit--that they are human in every aspect. And that is all that any black man, woman, or child need be made of to help us. Flesh, bone, and spirit is all Malcolm was or ever could be. Those who truly love Malcolm  should kill off  his iconic expressions as quick as possible. And then, let the workings of his flesh, his blood, and his spirit in this world be enough for us. 

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Malcolm X Videos 

John Coltrane, "Alabama"  /  Kalamu ya Salaam, "Alabama"  / A Love Supreme

A Blues for the Birmingham Four  /  Eulogy for the Young Victims   / Six Dead After Church Bombing 

Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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Malcolm X artifacts unearthed—Police docs and more found among belongs of 'Shorty' Jarvis—1 February 2012—Documents outlining the crime that landed Malcolm X in prison in the 1940s are among some 1,000 recently unearthed items purchased jointly by the civil rights leader's foundation and an independent collector of African-American artifacts. The documents and other artifacts belonged to late musician Malcolm "Shorty" Jarvis, who served in prison with Malcolm X and was one of his closest friends. Jarvis' 1976 pardon paper also is part of the collection, which was recently discovered by accident. The items had been in a Connecticut storage unit that had gone into default, and were initially auctioned off to a buyer who had no idea what he was bidding on. The Omaha, Nebraska-based Malcolm X Memorial Foundation, which oversees the Malcolm X Center located at his birthplace, will house and display the just-arrived archives. It split the cost with Black History 101 Mobile Museum, based in Detroit—the birthplace of the Nation of Islam.—Mobile Museum founder and curator Khalid el-Hakim declined to identify the original buyer or the price the two organizations paid for the trove. Still, even after splitting the cost, he said it's the largest acquisition to date for his mobile museum, which includes Jim Crow-era artifacts, a Ku Klux Klan hood and signed documents by Malcolm X and Rosa Parks. . . . The collection also reveals an enduring connection between the two Malcolms after their incarceration, Malcolm X's conversion to Islam and his rise to prominence. There's a 72-page scrapbook of Malcolm X's life that was maintained by Jarvis until after his friend's 1965 assassination. One of the civil rights era's most controversial and compelling figures, Malcolm X rose to fame as the chief spokesman of the Nation of Islam, a movement started in Detroit more than 80 years ago. He proclaimed the black Muslim organization's message at the time: racial separatism as a road to self-actualization and urged blacks to claim civil rights "by any means necessary" and referred to whites as "devils."—TheGrio

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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Ghosts in Our Blood

With Malcolm X in Africa, England, and the Caribbean

By Jan R. Carew

Carew, an activist, scholar, and journalist, met Malcolm X during his last trip abroad only a few weeks before he was killed in 1965. It made such an impression on Carew that he felt compelled to search out Malcolm's family and friends in order to flesh out the family history. He interviewed Wilfred (Malcolm's older brother) and a Grenadian friend of Malcolm's mother named Tanta Bess. Comparing his family's experiences with that of Malcolm X, he gives the most complete picture yet of Malcolm's mother. Carew also offers a tantalizing glimpse of Malcolm X's transforming himself into El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, a man less blinded by his own racial prejudices yet as committed to the betterment of his race as ever. Just before his death, Malcolm X became convinced that a U.S. agency was involved with those trying to kill him, and Carew here reveals the evidence Malcolm X gave him to support these beliefs. The mystery of Malcolm's death remains unresolved, and we are once again filled with regret that he was cut down before he could fulfill the promise of his later days. While this book will not replace The Autobiography of Malcolm X (LJ 1/1/66), it is an important supplement. All libraries that own the autobiography should also purchase this one.—Library Journal

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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