[News] Let's talk about Malcolm X

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 20 08:59:39 EST 2007

From: Grace Boggs <glbg at sbcglobal.net>

By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Feb. 18-24, 2007

Forty-two years ago, on February 21. 1965,  Malcolm X was gunned down 
at the Audubon Ballroom in New York.

At his funeral Ossie Davis eulogized  him as "Our black shining 
prince."   Two years later  dozens of poets testified to his  impact 
on our lives in "For Malcolm," published by Broadside Press.

"He opened us/who was a key," wrote Gwendolyn Brooks.

Today most  young people in their teens and 20s know nothing about 
Malcolm,  while older folks who refer to him reverentially  are not sure why.

For a brief period in 1992, after Spike Lee made the film with Denzel 
Washington starring as Malcolm,  a lot of  young  folks walked around 
in X caps and  T-shirts, thinking that Malcolm X meant Malcolm the Tenth.

   I believe that we could all benefit by intergenerational 
discussions about  Malcolm,  including those who  knew him personally 
or  heard him speak at  a meeting or on TV, those who have only read 
his autobiography, and those who don't even  know or care that he lived.

Who was this man who, as Ossie Davis put it in the Preface to "For 
Malcolm,"  had been a criminal, an addict, a pimp and a prisoner; a 
racist and a hater who really believed the white man was a 
devil?  Why was he able to keep snatching our lies away?

Was "by all means necessary" the only thing  he stood for?  Do we 
have to choose between him and MLK?   Or do we need to snatch those 
lies away in order to begin building the new world that is  now both 
necessary and possible?

I think of Malcolm as a very gentle  person who was constantly 
transforming himself, constantly creating and recreating himself as a 
more socially responsible, more loving human being.  Recognizing how 
far he had come,  always conscious of how he (and reality) were still 
changing,  Malcolm had  the kind of humility and practiced the kind 
of dialectical thinking that  revolutionary leaders need. That is why 
his Autobiography is so fascinating.

For example, I recall a meeting that Max Stanford, Pat Robinson, Bill 
Worthy, Jimmy and I had with him in a  Harlem lunchroom in the spring of 1964.

We had arranged the meeting because we felt that since his break with 
Mr. Muhammed and the Nation, Malcolm needed time to reorient himself. 
So we asked him to come to Detroit to work with  us.  I was struck by 
the seriousness with which Malcolm considered the proposal, but 
turned it down because he felt that at that stage in his personal and 
political development he needed to travel to Africa and the Middle East.

Another example is his conversation with Jan Carew, with whom he 
stayed in London two weeks before his assassination. Carew's account 
of their conversation in Ghosts in our Blood should be required 
reading for everyone who believes that "by all means necessary" is 
all that Malcolm stood for (just as MLK's speeches in the last three 
years of his life should be required reading for everyone who 
believes that "I have a dream" is all that King stood for).

Carew begins the conversation by describing himself as a Pan 
Africanist, a Black Marxist and a nationalist. To which Malcolm replies:

"I'm a Muslim and a revolutionary and I'm learning more about 
political theories  as the months go by. The only Marxist group in 
America that offered me a platform was the Socialist Workers Party. I 
respect them and they respect me..  The Communists, with the 
exception of the Cuban Communists, have gone out of their way to 
attack me,  If a mixture of nationalism and Marxism makes the Cubans 
fight the way they do and makes the Vietnamese stand up so resolutely 
to the might of America and its European and other lapdogs, then 
there must be something to it. But my Organization of African 
American Unity is based in Harlem and we've got to creep before we 
walk and walk before we run."

The Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110
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