February 21, 2014

Malcolm X: Our Own Black Shining Prince


On this date, February 21, in 1965, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) was assassinated. I was six years old at the time. I didn't have a conscious idea of who the brother was or what he meant to our people and our nation. I learned about him as a young man when I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Like many brothers in America ... I don't sit with my back to the door as a result of reading that book.

More importantly, I learned what it meant to have a strong inner determination and character to rise above your surroundings and your situation to truly do wonderful things for your family, your community, your nation and our world. In my view, Martin Luther King, Jr would never have been as effective if there had not been a Malcolm X.

49 years ago, Malcolm X was taken from us.

I encourage all Villagers to take time and remind yourself about the impact that this one man had on our life and times. Ossie Davis gave a 2-1/2 minute eulogy of Malcolm X that is some of the most powerful words ever uttered about the essence of the man. Here is part of it:
"There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honour in this stormy, controversial and bold young Captain - and we will smile. Many will say turn away - away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the Black man - and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate - a fanatic, a racist - who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them:
'Did you ever talk to brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did - you would know him. And if you knew him - you would know why we must honor him.'
Malcolm was our manhood ... our living Black manhood!"
You can hear the words from Ossie himself on this YouTube clip:






And we will know him than for what he was and is - A Prince - our own Black Shining Prince - who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved us so.

Villagers, what is your memory of Malcolm X? How did you first learn about this brother?
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23 comments:

Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thank you for honoring the memory of Malcolm X on this day.

Villager said...

Eddie - Did the Black Panthers have much in their program or process that emulated Malcolm X?

Also, you and Malcolm Little had much in common with your residence in state-run accomodations. Did you use time in the library as Malcolm Little did on his way to becoming Malcolm X and later El Hajj Malik El Shabazz?

Just curious...

bohemianabstractions said...

El Hajj Malik El Shabazz was an amazing man. Thanks for posting this Wayne.

Villager said...

BHC - I encourage you to share a tribute to him on your blog as well. He was that important to all of us and he will never have a national holiday ... therefore it is up to us to remember him ... each in our own way...

Danielle said...

I was born and raised in Harlem, so Brotha Malcolm was with me from my earliest memories. It seems as if I've always known him though he was gone before I was born.

There are not many people that I hold in high esteem, but he was one of them. When I see some of the old footage from his interviews, I've always seen steely determination and great intellect.

Malcolm was man of principle and he never backed down. His faith in God and his adherence to God's words are a beautiful and rare thing.

Malcolm was not perfect, but he proved how Man can change if he wants. I read his autobiography in college and it changed my life forever as a black person.

He is gone, but never forgotten. Thanks for this post Villager. A few weeks ago, I listened to his "The Ballot or The Bullet" speech and is resonated today as much as it did in the 60's.

Deidra said...

I don't know the exact date but I know I learned about him in high school. Yea I was a late learner for a lot of black history. They don't teach you about people like him. When I did learn about him I thought he was a very angry and violent man. My dad said he was too until his last years. I had to relearn a lot of thing about Malcolm X but he is truly a great man! Thanks for this post :)

Villager said...

Deidra - Thanx for sharing your rememberance of Malcolm X...

MrsGrapevine said...

Great post, I'm interested to see what more Hajj Malik El Shabazz have to say about the whole ordeal. He maintains his innocence.

MsMarvalus said...

I know I'm a little late, but whenever I hear Ossie Davis' voice recite that eulogy, I mist up...

Malcolm was one person among a few who I feel we can look to when we need a reminder of what it means to become a man against all odds, to hold fast to your beliefs even when it seems everyone is against you, and to never give up those beliefs, no matter what...

Martin Lindsey. said...

Great history lesson man. I have to agree with you that non-violence was as effective as it was because more serious radicalism and outright violence were options that plenty of Black folks were willing to take seriously. Illustrates the value of options in all situations.

I'll also have to say that Malcolm's sense of restraint and diplomacy aren't appreciated nearly as much as the images of the rifle in hand or training the Fruit of Islam.

Never heard the Ossie Davis eulogy before. Whoever put together the services picked the right guy to speak.

Happy Malcolm X day.

Villager said...

Ms. Marvalus - I hope that more brothers in our community take up his example of personal responsibility and discipline, myself included...

Martin - I am glad that we able to share information that was new to you. Feel free to share it with your blog readers as well...

Los Angelista said...

Oh that was so moving. I know I cry at the drop of a dime, but that eulogy really has the tears flowing. Thank you for this remembrance.

I always heard about him growing up so I can't remember when I first did. But I know I read his autobiography when I was probably 10 or 11. It was on a shelf in my parent's library and I picked it up and started reading it.

Villager said...

Los Angelesita - I encourage you to share your Malcolm X thoughts on your blog for your blog readers. Also, I was wondering ... do you have the book on your bookshelf today?

SheCodes said...

He died before I was born, but I did read his biography and many of his speeches. An amazing man, who was cut down in his prime. I believe that we would not be free today if it wasn't for his contribution. We owe it to his memory to carry the torch forward.

Invisible Woman said...

That eulogy almost got me beat up by Ruby Dee...haha.

Seriously, when I met Ossie, I had to tell him how moved I was by it when I read it, and we began chatting. Eventually Ruby walked over and snatched him away...if looks could kill, I would not be writing this comment now..lol.

He and Malcolm were such treasures to our community...I wish they were still here.

Villager said...

IW - Seems that Ruby didn't think you were as much invisible as you were woman on that day you were chatting with her husband (smile). I know you don't follow the Oscars, however, I hope Ruby Dee has fun at the event tonight...

SheCodes - I agree. I hope to honor him on his birthday in May as well...

SjP said...

He was and will forever remain our Prince. Misunderstood only by those who did not know him or did not wanat to know him. El Hajj Malik El Shabazz! Much obliged for this wonderful and gracious tribute!

Malcolm said...

Because I was named after him, I have always felt a close association to him. The first time I read anything about him was in a children's biography while I was in elementary school.

I'm thankful for Spike Lee's biopic because it helped introduce Malcolm X to countless others. Although the commercialism surrounding the marketing of Malcolm in the early to mid 90s did get out of hand.

By the way, I avoid sitting with my back to the door too.

Villager said...

Danielle, Sojourner and Marva - Your words about Malcolm resonate. I hope to share this blog post on every Feb 21st that I have this blog...

Malcolm - That is cool that you were named after such a powerful soul. It says alot about your parents as well. Without Malcolm X ... we have no Barack Obama...

MacDaddy said...

Next to my father, he's my #1 hero. I posted on him as well. I wrote about how I was suspended from The Nation of Islam for reading his book and decided not to go back-- how his words and courage remains inside of me after all of these years.

Thanks for this post.

Villager said...

MacDaddy - I'll head over and read your post. I noticed that the anniversary of Elijah Muhammad's death was earlier this week. I wonder how history would be different if Elijah didn't allow himself to be separated from Malcolm?

Regina said...

Very nice tribute! I often wonder what some of our dead leaders would think about today's world. What would he think of our youth, or our President, etc.

Villager said...

Regina - I've got to believe that he would be proud of President Barack Obama. I suspect that he never dreamed it would be possible for the America that he knew in the 1950s and 1960s to be willing to elect a Black man to the presidency.

re: our young people. He would probably be sad that the state of affairs was no better than when he was a kid in jail up in the Massachusetts area as Malcolm Little ... before he joined NOI.