February 21, 1965, a diversionary scuffle broke out in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, known as Malcom X, addressed the people of Harlem and, as a result of his international standing, the people of the world. As the attention of the attendees moved toward the scuffle, at least two men approached the stage with weapons. Malcolm’s last words were “don’t do it.” But they did. Pumping Malcolm’s body with bullets and a fatal shotgun blast that took Malcolm from us physically. What the assassins and the evil powers behind the assassination could never understand was that they did not kill Malcolm.
Feb. 21, 2023, marks the 58th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X. We honor his life and legacy by recalling his revolutionary message to the downtrodden peoples of the world and committing to carrying on his fight for liberation. In this special commemorative episode of Rattling the Bars, Mansa Musa speaks with freedom fighters Paulette Dauteuil and Ashanti Alston about how Malcolm X shaped their own politics, why the dream of international revolution was so essential to Malcolm’s vision, and how we can keep that dream alive today. Paulette Dauteuil is the former Co-chair (2010-2012) and National Secretary (2012-2014) of the National Jericho Movement.
While the land relationships that dominate this society have implications for every relation in society, the recent crisis of gentrification and forced removal in low income Black communities, along with the volatile boom-bust real estate cycles, has made the struggle for adequate housing the most pronounced battleground in an increasingly intense war over the vision for the future of how we relate, prioritize and manage access to land. The current regime of land relationships renders housing and community development fatally flawed in at least two respects: first, houses serve dual social functions in this society, but those functions are contradictory and at odds with each other. And second, decisions about land use is fundamentally undemocratic, rendering people unable to make basic decisions about how to improve their own communities.
I heard Malcolm speak when he came to The University of Wisconsin in 1963. He had yet to break with The Nation of Islam and was protected by several of their bodyguards. All were dressed nattily in suits and small knotted narrow neckties. Malcolm had light skin and reddish hair. “Detroit Red” they had called him when he lived there. He spoke in a cadence which was musical. I can’t remember the details of what he said.
Gary L. Aguilar, MD, is a private practicing ophthalmologist in San Francisco, a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of California-San Francisco, and the vice chief of staff at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. One of the few physicians outside the federal government who has ever been allowed to review President Kennedy's still-restricted autopsy photographs and X-rays, Aguilar has delivered lectures on JFK's autopsy evidence before numerous medical and legal conferences.
Most people know that Malcolm X began his public career by calling for black separatism. Lost Tapes: Malcolm X reveals surprising details that have not been seared into our collective view of the martyred activist. At the end of the Smithsonian Channel’s Lost Tapes: Malcolm X, Ossie Davis delivers a stirring eulogy for Malcolm X, the fallen Muslim minister and human rights activist. “And we will know him then for what he was and is,” Davis intones, “a Prince – our own black shining Prince!” The haze of history has obscured some of the finer details of this remarkable leader’s life, one cut short by assassination at the age of 39 in 1965. Schools go into far greater detail about the life and times of another spiritual leader, Martin Luther King Jr., but in the shadows behind King’s narrative lurk remarkable stories of a prince that have been largely ignored.
By Ajamu Baraka for Popular Resistance. For those of us who operate within context of the Black Radical Tradition, Malcolm’s political life and philosophy connected three streams of the Black Radical Tradition: nationalism, anti-colonialism and internationalism. For many, the way in which Malcolm approached those elements account for his appeal. Yet, I think there is something else. Something not reducible to the language of political struggle and opposition that I hear when I encounter people in the U.S. and in other parts of the world when they talk about Malcolm. I suspect it is his defiance, his dignity, his courage and his selflessness. For me, it is all of that, but it is also how those elements were reflected in his politics, in particular his approach to the concept of human rights. Malcolm showed us how to deal with Trumpism, and the People Centered Human Rights movement that we must build will move us to that place where collective humanity must arrive if we are to survive and build a new world. And we will – “by any means necessary.”
By Ahmed Shawki for Jacobin. After his visit to Africa, Malcolm began to argue that the black struggle in the United States was part of an international struggle, one that he connected to the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. He also began to argue in favor of socialism. Referring to the African states, he pointed out, “All of the countries that are emerging today from under the shackles of colonialism are turning towards socialism.” He no longer defined the struggle for black liberation as a racial conflict. “We are living in an era of revolution, and the revolt of the American Negro is part of the rebellion against the oppression and colonialism which has characterized this era,” he said. “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white, or as purely an American problem. Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiters.”
By Kimberley Richards for The Huffington Post - A recently-discovered letter reportedly handwritten by Malcolm X in 1964 describes racism at that time as an "incurable cancer" that was "plaguing" America. Los Angeles historic manuscript and letter dealer, Moments in Time, retrieved the six-page letter, reportedly written by the civil rights activist. It went on sale Sunday for $1.25 million. Gary Zimet, president and owner of Moments in Time, received the letter from a contact who discovered it in a storage locker in the Bronx, New York. Zimet has decided to keep the person's name anonymous.
By Vincent Intondi in Zinn Ed Project - When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. announced his strong opposition to the war in Vietnam, the media attacked him for straying outside of his civil rights mandate. In so many words, powerful interests told him: “Mind your own business.” In fact, African American leaders have long been concerned with broad issues of peace and justice—and have especially opposed nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this activism is left out of mainstream corporate-produced history textbooks. On June 6, 1964, three Japanese writers and a group of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) arrived in Harlem as part of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki World Peace Study Mission. Their mission: to speak out against nuclear proliferation. Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese American activist, organized a reception for the hibakusha at her home in the Harlem Manhattanville Housing Projects, with her friend Malcolm X. Malcolm said, “You have been scarred by the atom bomb. You just saw that we have also been scarred. The bomb that hit us was racism.”
Every day the Metropolitan Tenants Organization works with renters who are facing the negative effects of gentrification and other economic forces that threaten their housing. Thousands of low-income renters and homeowners are displaced every year by a property law system with misplaced priorities. As a society, we all pay when people are involuntarily displaced because of increased crime, skyrocketing medical costs and a failing educational system. It is imperative that as a nation we confront this housing crisis and ensure that everyone has a home. The insights of visionary Black leader Malcolm X, who would have been 90 this year, are key to the discussion around gentrification and housing. Malcolm X championed a new vision, reframing the character of the struggle for equality from civil rights to one of human rights.
The 50th anniversary of the assassination of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) came and went on Feb. 21 of this year. And just as in other years when the date of Malcolm’s assassination came around, his name trended for a few hours and then the stifling silence rolled back in, erasing his name from the social media landscape almost as quickly as it had re-emerged. This year the occasion didn’t go completely unacknowledged, and some would even say that Malcolm was recognized in all the ways that mattered. There was massive coverage of the occasion right here at The Root, as well as other sites geared to black audiences. There was a CNN special that gave us a glimpse into the last moments of Malcolm’s life via the people closest to him that day. And the Shabazz Center organized a spectacular program in his honor—with a diversity in the ethnic, racial, religious and cultural DNA of the crowd in attendance that was a powerful reflection of the man himself.
Black Americans, many of whom have taken to the streets in protest in recent months, have evoked the spirit of Malcolm X by candidly expressing their frustration with what they consider an unfair criminal justice system and later refusing to retreat from the front lines, even when police officers threw tear gas and swatted batons their way. While the Black Lives Matter protests have largely emphasized nonviolent sit-ins in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., Kymone Freeman, program director at independent DC-based media outlet We Act Radio, argued the movement should embrace some of Malcolm X’s more controversial teachings, like his call for aggressive self-defense. Freeman, who said he has read extensively about Malcolm X and Dr. King, implored Millennials to study Malcolm X’s life on their own because they won’t learn the true story of the civil rights icon in their classes, particularly his argument that black people have the right to defend themselves against those who try to physically harm them.
Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.
AS THE 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination nears next month, questions around his killing still linger. That’s why the Department of Justice should heed an online petition to release all the federal files surrounding the civil rights leader’s death. A small group has launched a modest yet compelling grassroots effort to get a fuller picture of the half-century-old case, and its call for full transparency should be honored. On Feb. 21, 1965, the 39-year-old black former Nation of Islam minister, who had left the group and formed his own religious organization, was gunned down inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. While three Nation of Islam members were convicted of the murder, speculation around the real motive remains, and some question whether the real assassin is still at large.