Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Civil Rights Leader, 51 Years After Assassination
Today in black history, we remember, mourn and celebrate a phenomenal civil rights leader, who lived and died for the emancipation of black people.

Published: 22.02.2016 , 08.20
Adeiye Temitope

Malcolm X, otherwise known as El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz and originally named Malcolm Little was brutally murdered 51 years ago today while speaking at an event held at the Audubon Ballroom.
During his lifetime, Malcolm was an outspoken and fearless critic of the American government and the system that relegated people of colour to the backseat.

Malcom, a former thief and pimp reformed himself in prison. After getting out, he became an important figure in Nation of Islam, a religious organization which had the philosophy of black supremacy. He later became disillusioned with the organisation and publicly denounced them. During this time, his militant, seperationist theories faded away and he became more tolerant of white people in his approach to the civil rights struggle. He even expressed grudging willingness to work with Martin Luther King jnr whom he had previously criticised for his pacifist and integrationist approach. He became founder and leader of  Organization of Afro-American Unity and his own religious organisation, Muslim Mosque Inc.

Malcolm distinguished himself as a powerful orator and wonderful speaker. When he spoke, people listened. His stature and carriage commanded respect and he could quell an angry mob with just a hand signal. He is one of the greatest African-Americans in history and the spread of Islam amongst the black community in the US is largely due to his influence.

Malcolm lived and died by his beliefs. In his autobiography, he stated that he believed he was going to come to a violent end like his father- and he was right.

He was shot during an event at Audubon Ballroom as he was about to give a speech. Thomas Hagan, Norman Butler and Thomas Johnson rushed to ballroom stage and fired many gunshots at close range. Malcolm X was pronounced dead at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. The three men were convicted for the murder.

The public viewing of his body from February 23–26 1965 at Unity Funeral Home, Harlem was attended by about 30,000 mourners. The funeral itself,February 27 1965 was carried live by a local television station.

Even though he didn't live beyond 39 years, Malcolm's legacy will outlive him by centuries. You may disagree with some of the methods he advocated, but his philosophy will be relevant for many years to come. His strength, courage and bravery will inspire generations yet unborn. He always spoke and stood up for what he believed in, and didn't cower in the face of oppression and death threats. In an interview with New York Times, he said “I’m a marked man. It doesn’t frighten me for myself as long as I felt they would not hurt my family. … No one can get out without trouble, and this thing with me will be resolved by death and violence.”

Malcolm was one of a kind, and we could do with people more like him in the world today.

'God give us men
A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts
True faith and ready hands...'- Josiah Holland.

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