Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha Nebraska on May 19, 1925. Malcolm’s father Earl Little was a big six-foot-four very black man with one eye. His mother Louis Little, had a light complexion and could pass for white. Malcolm was his father’s seventh child. He had three children from a previous marriage Ella, Earl, and Mary, who lived in Boston. Malcolm’s father met and married his mother in Philadelphia. This union produced, Malcolm and his five full-blooded siblings. The oldest Wilfred was born in Philadelphia. Then the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska their, Hilda and then Philbert was born.
Soon after Philbert was born came Malcolm. The next child Reginald was born in Milwaukee and suffered from a serious back problem, which actually made him handicap for the continuation of his being. For a short time the family continued their stay in Wisconsin, Malcolm’s dad wanted to find a better accommodation so he could bring up his kids the right way and build up a decent business. This is something his father would learn form the teachings of Marcus Garvey. Marcuse Garvey stressed becoming independent of the white man. Later his mother would become pregnant again, this time with his youngest sister Yvonne.
The family than moved to Lansing, Michigan to find that independence Malcolm’s father wanted form the white man. As you can see from the begging of young Malcolm’s life civil rights played a big role. Many violent and disturbing events during Malcolm’s childhood synchronized to form positive and negative impacts on his life. The same events that led him to a life of crime during his early years would also act as a catalyst for his salvation. Self-inflicted destruction and environmental factors breed the creation of an American hero and African American icon.
Malcolm said, “Even at that young age, I just couldn’t believe in the Christian concept of Jesus as someone divine. And no religious person, until I was a man in my twenties and then in prison could tell me anything. I had a very little respect for most people who represented religion. ” (Malcolm X). In this quote it is easy to see how this thinking spawned a rebellious spirit to a misguided youth. In contrast it also was a source of completion that leads to a deep-rooted feeling of belonging to the Nation of Islam. It’s fascinating to see even within our great leaders how wisdom and age change beliefs.
This would be a reoccurring theme threw out Malcolm’s life. In Malcolm’s autobiography he says, “I remember waking up to the sound of my mother’s screaming again. When I scrambled out, I saw the police in the living room they were trying to calm her down. She had snatched on her clothes to go with them. And all of us children who were staring knew without anyone having to say it that something terrible had happened to our father. My mother was taken by the police to the hospital, and to a room where a sheet was over my father in a bed, and she wouldn’t look, she was afraid to look.
Probably it was wise that she didn’t. I was told my father’s skull was crushed in on one side. In Lansing the blacks have always said that he was attacked, and then placed across the tracks in that condition for a streetcar to run him over. His body was cut almost in half. He lived two and a half hours in that condition. Negroes then were stronger than they are now, especially Georgia Negroes. Negroes born in Georgia had to be strong simply to survive. ” (Malcolm X) This experience added many synchronistic dualities in Malcolm’s life that would serve positive and negative functions.
It is easy to see how a man could have such a horrific child hood and become a criminal form this kind of turbulence. In this quote Malcolm reflects on his hustler days, “I can’t remember all the hustles I had during the next two years in Harlem, after the abrupt end of my riding the trains and peddling reefers to the touring bands. ” (Malcolm X) Soon after a host of robberies, Drugs, gambling, fornicating Malcolm would find himself facing a prison term in February of 1946 six years for burglary. Malcolm would come to prison and make a positive change in his life. The first man I met in prison who made any positive impression on me whatever was a fellow inmate, “Bimbi. ” Bimbi was the first Negro convict I’d known who didn’t respond to ‘What’cha know, Daddy? ’ Often after we had done our day’s license plate quota, we would sit around, perhaps fifteen of us, and listen to Bimbi. Even the white guards would listen to Bimbi. ” (Malcolm X) Bimbi would teach Malcolm a lesson that would come back to benefit him time and time again. The lesson was you can command and total respect with words.
It would not be long after Malcolm tutelage with Bimbi he would meet a major force of positive change in his life Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm frequently wrote Elijah while in jail. Elijah would not only send Malcolm money, he would also send teachings. With the racial tension naturally engrained in Malcolm’s being, it is no wonder how Elijah Muhammad’s teachings would resonate deep with Malcolm. In one letter Elijah wrote this to Malcolm, “The black man, original man, built great empires and civilizations and cultures while the white man was still walking on all fours in caves. The devil white man,’ down through history, out of his devilish nature, had pillaged, murdered, raped and exploited every race of man not white. ”(Malcolm X) Over the next few years in prison Malcolm would became a sponge of knowledge. Upon his release in 1952, he became one of the Nation of Islam’s most resourceful organizers and charismatic figure in the black community. Assassinated in 1965 in the wake of a struggle over leadership within the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X is now remembered as a hero of the black revolution.
I still can remember sitting down with my father to watch “X”. I had heard stories and read books about Malcolm militant attitude and bold nature. I grew up around mostly whites in Allen TX. So as a youngster it was great for me to see a black man taking up for himself! As a young man I was impressed with “By any means necessary” attitude that Malcolm brought to the revolution. Pictures of Malcolm with his guns looking out the window protecting his children lined my room walls. I respected Martin Luther King’s philosophy to turn the other cheek.
But I could not help thinking if I was a young black man in the 60’s I would have been on the side of Malcolm’s military mindset. I can remember watching old black and white videos of police officers abusing black men and women with dogs and water hoses. Milton Meltzer a black author states, “Such figures as Marcus Garvey and, later, Malcolm X believed that blacks should work for self determination rather than integration, and that blacks had the right to retaliate when attacked violently. ” (Meltzer) I kept thinking to myself “If I turn the other cheek with Martin I will get punched! I’m a strong black man I would be fighting with Malcolm. With that thinking there was also unresolved conflict within myself that I could not avoid. When you hear Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream “ he really paints a picture of a beautiful world that is free from racial intolerance. I didn’t like the separatist thinking Malcolm had during his early years. I have friends that belong to many different cultures who are dear to me. But when I heard Martin say he had a dream of black and white children playing together side by side it touched me.
Then I knew I was a living part of a revelation that has come to pass in my life. So for some years after that I could not answer the question of which I like best. I would always think to myself that I need a mix of both of them. It was my mother in her infinite wisdom that led me to my present day thinking. Martin was more right in the long run of things than Malcolm. Civil disobedience has played a role in gaining freedoms for blacks. If you have all Martin and no Malcolm there could never be a Rosa Parks. On the other hand, in order to reach the goal of perfect harmony you need King!
So I guess my hero is 40% Malcolm and 60% King! Malcolm’s whole story is just simply amazing to me. Destruction breeds creation in all things. Malcolm’s destructive nature landed him in jail, which in turn bread the creation of a leader. Furthermore, his distain for whites and separates attitude bread the creation of a man who towards the end of his life saw eye to eye with Kings dream. Author of the book “The African Americans” said, “In 1963 the Black Muslims silenced him for his derogatory statements about the assassination of U. S. President John F. Kennedy. Malcolm made a pilgrimage in 1964 to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Jiddah, renounced his previous teaching that all whites are evil, and adopted the Arabic name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
He then formed a secular black nationalist group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. ” (Cohen) The synchronization of two great men’s ideals came together; to bad Malcolm’s eyes was open wide at the end of his life. As the African American community and I struggles to find its one leaders author Paul Robinson brings an interesting point. Minister Farrakhan is no Moses. In fact, he has never wielded nearly as much power or influence in the African-American community as any one of hundreds of Black elected officials, business leaders, ministers, and institutional figures. Moreover, the Black middle class and working class, who together make up about 63 percent of the African-American population, gave up looking for a Moses after the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. , and Robert Kennedy. Only the Powerless Black underclass still longs for a Moses.
Furthermore, it makes no sense to lump Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. , Malcolm X, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and Rev Jesse Jackson together indiscriminately. King, who led the largest and most effective mass movement in African-American history and achieved worldwide influence, far outranks Malcolm X who was assassinated just as he was beginning to reach his full potential. And Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has already played a major role in the realignment of American politics, far outranks Minister Farrakhan” (Robeson Jr. ).
It’s nice to have my same thoughts in good company with the likes of Paul Robeson Jr.! I think he is right in what he says, and coming from and middle class family of blacks and my mother telling me the same thing as a child only makes his point ever so much clear. The synchronistic nature of events in Malcolm’s life is proof that you can learn something form all of life’s experiences. I love that lesson in life that I am still learning! This is why I choose to write my paper on Malcolm X that is just simply amazing to me. Furthermore had he lived I believe that Malcolm would have been just as great if not greater than King. He is on the other side now with God cant wait to talk to brother Malcolm when I get there.
X, Malcolm. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Price, 1965 print. Cohen, Collins. The African Americans. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Cohen, 1993 print Meltzer, Milton. There Comes A Time: The Struggle for Civil Rights. New York: Meltzer, 2001 Robeson Jr. , Paul. Paul Robeson, JR. Speaks to America. United States of America: Robeson, Jr. , 1993