Skip to content
View Featured Image

We Lost Malcolm X, But We Can’t Lose The Dream Of International Revolution

Above Photo: American civil rights leader Malcolm X (1925 – 1965) laughs as he relaxes on a couch in a wood-panelled room, March 1964. Truman Moore/Getty Images..

Malcolm X believed internationalism was essential for any struggle for liberation.

On the anniversary of his assassination, we discuss the need to carry on Malcolm’s legacy by keeping the dream of international revolution alive.

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. She now serves on the advisory board and is also a member of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. Ashanti Alston is a former political prisoner, former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, and a revolutionary speaker, writer, organizer, and motivator. He currently serves on the steering committee of the National Jericho Movement to free US political prisoners.


Maximillian Alvarez [voiceover]: This interview was recorded before the passing of our dear friend and comrade Marshall “Eddie” Conway on Feb. 13, 2023. We didn’t want to alter the episode to remove Eddie in any way from the show he helped to create. TRNN will have more details soon on plans to celebrate Eddie’s incredible life. For now, we will continue his work and strive to make him proud, and we ask our audience to keep Eddie and his family in their prayers.

Mansa Musa: Welcome to this edition of Rattling the Bars. I’m Mansa Musa, co-host with Eddie Conway. And as always, I try to update everyone on Eddie Conway’s health and Eddie Conway’s status. I ask whatever spiritual medium you are involved with, please put Eddie in that space, if it’s prayers or whatever you do to invoke your spirituality as Eddie recovers from this odious situation he finds himself in. We hope that at some point in time, Eddie Conway will be healthy enough to make a cameo appearance on the program that he created and the network that he love.

Today we have two remarkable individuals when it come to struggle, when it come to sacrifice and when it come to activism. Nowadays, we hear the term revolutionary and it becomes a cliche, it’s more cliche-ish than anything. But when you say revolutionary, my guests today are the embodiment of being revolutionary, making an ultimate sacrifice to help be a part of, engage, agitate for the liberation of all people, people of color, oppressed people wherever they are in the world. We have today, Paulette, introduce yourself to the Rattling the Bars audience, Paulette.

Paulette Dauteuil: Thank you. I’m Paulette Dauteuil. I live in Gainesville, Florida. I’m part of the Jericho Movement, former co-director, and now I’m on the advisory board and part of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. And as always, it’s wonderful to be here and to take part in a discussion that’s very hard to come by. Not very often anymore can you sit around and have good revolutionary discussions and understanding with your comrades. So it’s always nice to be on the show with you. Thank you.

Mansa Musa: And we have another one of our comrades, Ashanti. Ashanti, introduce yourself to the Rattling the Bars audience.

Ashanti Alston: Right on. My name is Ashanti Alston, former member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, former political prisoner. At present, I live in Rhode Island. I’m on the advisory board of the National Jericho Movement as well. And I’m happy to be here. My greetings go out to our comrade out there with speedy recovery.

Mansa Musa: And what we’ll be having today. When I was locked up, with Eddie Conway, when I was in the Maryland Penitentiary, we used to have our political education classes and we used to grab the milk crates that was around and that’s how we was sit when we was sitting in the yard and we had the red book and Eddie would be instructing us on political theory and revolutionary theory. So basically, this is what this conversation’s going to be. We have a political conversation dialogue about Malik el-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X. And we know that Malcolm X’s anniversary is coming up. And so what we want to do today is, we want to talk about Malcolm X, what influence he had on you and what do you think, where you think we should be at in terms of our political direction, in terms of the movement.

Paulette, I’m going to start with you. What, if any, influence had Malcolm X had on you when you got into the struggle and you started developing a consciousness about liberation and liberation of poor and oppressed people?

Paulette Dauteuil: Well, when I moved to New York and I met Sophia and Herman Ferguson, Herman was a friend and a comrade of Malcolm X. Herman and I had many discussions about internationalism. I like to think of myself as an internationalist and to look across the world and support people’s struggles. And so when I would travel, Herman would say, “Now remember what Malcolm said, ‘Internationalism, comrades abroad. You must build an international movement.’” And so part of my responsibilities, I felt, in Jericho was when I traveled, was that I took our political prisoners with us as a way of honoring Herman, but also keeping in the back of my mind that the importance of internationalism in building a revolutionary movement.

Ashanti and I went to England with the Turkish comrades and Ashanti spoke. And so we not only had Jericho, but we had a former political prisoner who talked about the prison struggles and how people became political prisoners. And so I’ve always felt, for myself, not only to fight racism as a White person, but to talk to comrades abroad about the political struggles here and the struggles of our political prisoners. So I always have Malcolm in the sort of a little part of my brain when I travel, so he’s with me all the time.

Mansa Musa: And we going to pick up later on about the international perspective ’cause Malcolm was ahead of his time in that regard. Him and Dr. King was ahead of their time in regard to the international. Ashanti, talk about the influence that Malcolm X had on you.

Ashanti Alston: Oh, man. It’s a great, great influence and I think still has on me because sometimes when you listen to him speak now, you’re amazed at how relevant his words are even now in helping you to have a cutting edge perspective on this empire that we’re in, that we’re trapped in and we’re trying to free ourselves from. But I started at such a young age. I was a young teenager, 14, the ’67 rebellions. And that’s what I feel like brought me in, but it also started me in the reading. And it was when I got to Malcolm X’s autobiography that it was like a Bible. And at them teenage years, that’s foundational.

Mansa Musa: Right, right, right.

Ashanti Alston: You’re building a new foundation of who you’re going to become. And as I read his autobiography, in the midst of all the things going on in the sixties, it was giving me on the spot analysis from his charismatic words a lot of times about what this country’s really about, what this white supremacy is really about. And here’s this age that I want to know more, ’cause it’s not only being angry, but I want to know why. Why are we even here on Turtle Island that has become the United States empire? And I wanted something that said, Black people, we got to stay awake, we got to stay alert, we have to come together. And so here’s the Black power movement and here’s me with Malcolm X Speaks. I would read Malcolm so much that when I went to bed at night, a lot of times I found myself making a speech, but it was actually in my sleep, the words of Malcolm X.

Mansa Musa: That’s right.

Ashanti Alston: So it was really profound. And then here comes the Black Panther party and it had made sense. And before the Black Panther party too, you had Stokely Carmichael, we had H. Rap Brown, live and all that stuff. But Malcolm’s life was this example of someone willing to risk transforming his own life in an effort to be the best, in a sense, messenger to our people that he could be. ‘Cause you figure he is a member of the Nation of Islam and he’s in it totally for life. Yet, as he’s growing and then his awareness is growing, he has to begin to challenge his own beliefs, cause he feels like there’s more. And I think, I got to leave this. And I can imagine now with reading the psychologies and stuff, how it was not only important for him to make a break, but what on a psychological level is that to say, I’m going to leave everything that the nation has given me to bring me to this point in order to grow more and to be more relevant, to tell my leader that no longer do I adhere to this. I have to expand, I have to grow, I have to deepen my knowledge, I have to be more available to this movement.

And that’s why I say, even today when I think about his impact on me, I’m like, wow, the ability to face the kind of trepidations in the sense of who you were, but knowing that you have to still become and to step out of that box. That was Malcolm. I’m going to do it anyhow. I might be scared, but I’m going to do it anyhow.

Mansa Musa: And you know what, and you make a good point because that contradiction right there, the contradiction, the resolution of that contradiction came from his consciousness. Once he brought in his consciousness, his information, it allowed him to start. It was a difficult decision to make. And we could see the difficulty in his decision because when he created the OAAU, he also created the Muslim Mosque, Incorporated. So he wanted to hold onto remnants of Islam more so around the influence that the Nation of Islam had on him, but not so much as it would have impact on changing the social conditions of poor and oppressed people.

But let’s talk about, cause Paulette spoke on his internationalism. Talk a little bit about his international perspective. I remember in one of his speeches, and this will let me know, he was ahead of his time. He was talking about the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, when the North Vietnam kicked the French out of North Vietnam. And by everybody’s own imagination, France was going to come in there, wipe the floor with them and keep it moving. But General Nguyen, Uncle Ho, they had another story. But when Malcolm talked about that, he talked about that in the sixties. Who knew anything about … The United States was just moving into overtly, they was already in Vietnam covertly, they just started to move into Vietnam overtly. But wasn’t nobody on speaking on that level at that time about how the connection between the international and the national, how it was a direct connection between the two but Malcolm at that early age.

Paulette, speak on that.

Paulette Dauteuil: Well, that’s almost more than what … I understand what you’re saying. And I think that it wasn’t around those particular issues of internationalism that I followed Malcolm, but so much more of his practice with people that he met and talked to and the respect that he shown other people, other cultures and they reciprocated. For him, as a traveler, I always feel when I travel that I don’t want to be an ugly American, want to be this human being that can relate to people, explain where I’m coming from, what’s happening here, and listen to what they have to say so that we can build these dialogues. And I remember two or three films in which Malcolm is in Africa and other places, and he is so respected and he speaks in such a humble voice that you cannot not listen to what he has to say.

But it’s also a way to teach you how to be a human being, even though you grew up in this society and his personal experiences with his children and his wife. Those are things that really moved me. I think he was one of the first men that I actually was aware of that was with his children. There were pictures of him and his daughters and the relationship and you could just see how much he loved them and how much they loved him. And to see a revolutionary like that out there, Bravo, bravo, but tumble and his daughter’s hugging him, and his wife being respectful and him respecting them. That really has sort of set the example for the type of comrades I want to have and men I want to be able to respect. And I just think Malcolm is this person who, on so many different levels, can teach you how to be a human being.

Mansa Musa: Yeah, I agree. I agree. And you know what, you hit on what I wanted to hit on because that’s basically the direction I wanted to go in. I was talking more about the fact that he had an international perspective during a period where we were constantly being bombarded with Jim Crowism, capitalism, racism, and fascism in this country. But Malcolm had the wherewithal and the knowledge enough to know that it wasn’t isolated to United States, that this was a world imperialism, this was imperialism, and the United States was continuing in that continuum of being imperialistic.

But Ashanti, talk about your perspective on Malcolm and his international perspective. And mainly as it relates to, ’cause we know coming out the party, we know that both Huey, the party had international perspective. Huey came out of prison and went to China. We always followed international struggles in the paper. We always made people aware of what was going on internationally. We always were bringing people in this space in this country and made sure that we provide security for them, a place for them to stay. But more importantly, we made sure that they knew that we recognized that we was all in the same boat and it wasn’t no us against them, it was us against capitalism, us against imperialism, us against fascism. Speak on that from your perspective, personal perspective.

Ashanti Alston: Even earlier when you were talking about the Dien Bien Phu, the struggle of the Vietnamese people, especially North Korea, the Viet Cong, against first the French, and then when the French realized that they wasn’t going to defeat, who Malcolm called, these rice eaters.

Mansa Musa: That’s right. That’s what they were called.

Ashanti Alston: Then here’s the United States, like you said, first, secretly there, then openly there. And Malcolm’s words, again, was like, he’s talking to audiences of Black people and he’s trying to tell us, look at the Vietnamese. And when he said rice eaters, he wasn’t being disrespectful. He was talking about people who were not the empire, the most technologically advanced, powerful monster in the world. But he was saying, look at these people fight back and they defeated the French and they’re going to defeat the United States. Now so here I am in the Panther party now and you talking about the newspapers and everything. And so you staying up on all these international struggles and it helps you to see that you can defeat this empire within, in collaboration or in solidarity, but all these other struggles going on all around the world because Malcolm is pointing all these things out.

The struggles in Africa, the struggles in Asia and Latin America. Yes, yes. And he would point out, he would bring up concepts that you may not even have heard of them before at the time, like socialism. This is a socialist struggle and this and that. And people are turning towards socialism in Africa. So now, I want to know more about this. And at the same time, and especially being in the party, you began to meet people from these different struggles, especially at a certain time. I was working out at the Harlem office, here comes folks from Japan. There was an Asian woman, Yuri Kochiyama. Yuri lived in Harlem at the time, would have folks who were struggling in Japan, come to the Harlem office to meet members of the Black Panther party and see what they doing. And it was all the unfolding of Malcolm’s prophetic words in so many ways.

And that’s just from not just the autobiography, but Malcolm X Speaks and different things, and feeling like everything he pointed out, we could do. And we just had to believe in ourselves. And his words would also sometimes kind of poke at us ’cause it would be like, how you going to be fighting for the United States overseas and you won’t even stand and fight for your people here. And he’s saying this to us. ‘Cause sometimes you can’t just bring it softly, sometimes you got to be like, how can you do that and call yourself a dignified person? You can defend imperialism and racist forces right here, including the US government, but you won’t stand up for your people in your own community. So again, the Panther party and a lot of other groups wanted to manifest that. And I think that’s like with me and Jihad, ’cause we come out of the same community, grew up together and stuff. That’s what we want to do. And it was the Black Panther party that was manifesting that for us.

Mansa Musa: And that’s a nice segue into my next question because I was looking at a interview with Huey and Huey was talking about the simplicity of the political direction of the party in the early organizing and how in their early organizing we recognized the current of weapons and things and nature, what that represented in terms of the 10-point platform program and the fact that police brutality was prevalent in California. But Huey was talking about that in one event that they organized around simplicity being real simple. It was in Oakland, it was a place where it wasn’t no traffic and little Black kids was getting hit left and right. So they went down there, they were like, okay, we going to start being the traffic police down there. We going make sure the kids, we going to be the crossing guard. So they down there with guns, making sure the kids can get back and forth safely.

So the pigs come down there, they don’t want them down there. So the pigs come down and start being the traffic police. And it kept on going on until eventually they got tired of it and they put a traffic light up. And that’s what they asked for to begin with. Before they went down there and did that, they went down to city council, said, listen, put the traffic light up down here. And I’m saying that to say this here. When Malcolm created the OAAU and when he gave a speech on it and the strategy of it, the strategy that he had outlined was a strategy of engagement. But more importantly, it was a strategy of organizing people around conditions that affect them on a daily.

Ashanti Alston: Right.

Mansa Musa: And I’m saying that to say this here, Paulette, how is Jericho doing that? What is Jericho doing in that regard? Because this is where we at, we know that Jericho is doing a lot of stuff around political prisoners. We know Jericho is doing some remarkable work and we know that the leadership of Jericho is still at best. Talk about the impact of Malcolm. Well, we already know that he important, but the type of programs and things that we’re doing, the Jericho Movement is doing now in terms of raising people’s consciousness.

Paulette Dauteuil: Well, like I said, Herman Ferguson was a comrade and a good friend of Malcolm’s. And he believed that we needed to organize in our community with our people. We needed to be, if you were a White person, your responsibility is to work within your community and to not necessarily criticize, but to be able to put out in a manner that was sort of non-aggressive, how a person was acting that was incorrect. You needed to be able to speak to people where they were at and not try and say, “Oh listen, I know what’s wrong with you.” No, he didn’t. None of that. No arrogance, but rather to be with the people. And when a discussion came up and it was going in a racist manner, that it was your responsibility to say, “Excuse me, we need to discuss what’s being said because it’s not right.”

Mansa Musa: That’s right.

Paulette Dauteuil: “And why do you think that you should be allowed to make a racist statement?” “Well, I didn’t think it was.” “Well, let’s look at it.” And to be able to talk to people where they were at. Herman believed that there are people that were Christians and were part of Jericho and went to church. That was their responsibility. They should go in and talk to their church people and discuss political prisoners, what you can do. Most churches have a social justice component. And so when it was time for people to go to the parole board to go to that social justice and say, “All right, let’s sit down and write letters in support of this person, and here’s why and here’s going on and don’t you think as good Christians, we should be doing this?”

Mansa Musa: Right.

Paulette Dauteuil: So to meet the people where they were at, to not be above them, to not try and manipulate, but actually to engage with them so they in fact could see how they could bring about change within themselves. And Herman always used to laugh. It’s always easier to go abroad and to talk to people abroad than it is to talk right within your own community because you feel you don’t want to overstep. But at the same time you’re so upset with people for not seeing what they’re doing, that you also don’t want to be this person that’s only critical and never can help somebody along the way. That was one of our things was to organize within the church and he’d say, “Paulette.” I’d say, “No, that’s not me. I’m sorry.”

Mansa Musa: That’s not your wheelhouse.

Paulette Dauteuil: I’m not your church person. I’ll go down and sit around the park and talk to people that come around when we have a picnic or something, but please don’t ask me to go to church.

Mansa Musa: And speaking of church, I remember, I was doing this development paper for someone and I went back and where he was talking about the Black church we visited and he made that observation about how we had alienated ourselves from the church, but more importantly how the importance of organizing people where they at. And Ashanti, talk about that because you had the experience of being involved with some of our programs, survival program, free breakfast program and some of the other things that was going on. Talk about how and all this. And about Huey on the mission and Bobby’s on the mission. They was influenced heavily by Malcolm. And they took what they thought where Malcolm was going and started and moved in that direction. And ergo, you had the Black Panther party. So speak on that, if you can.

Ashanti Alston: Yeah, agreeing with Paulette, that sense of engagement. You got to be where the people are at and you have to overcome any fears you got about engaging with folks in your community.

Mansa Musa: That’s right.

Ashanti Alston: And a lot of times, people don’t get that. They don’t even face that. Well, we know you’re scared, but at some point you got to, even if it’s baby steps, do them. And the whole thing about engaging, and that was the strength of the Black Panther party for me and so many others, was that there was what came, they called the survival programs. And the survival programs is what took you in that community. And it may well have been your own community. With us, it was our own community. And you learned to talk with folks, you learn to have them kind of conversations where you’re helping folks to get a certain radical understanding of their situation that doesn’t allow them to be naive or to ignore the very things that is oppressing them. And to even bring Malcolm back into it, even when Malcolm was in the Nation of Islam, I mean one of the strengths of the Nation of Islam was like they was in and still are in the Black community.

Mansa Musa: In the Black community.

Ashanti Alston: And actually engaging and doing things and making things available. People may talk about the bean pies and stuff, but they was doing more than even that.

Mansa Musa: That’s right.

Ashanti Alston: And Malcolm, I think one of the things with him that, and I kind of got it from the movie, the Malcolm X movie, whatever people’s criticisms is that one time the police bamped on one of the members in Harlem, I think it was in Harlem, and beat him up bad and wouldn’t take them to the hospital. And people was upset. And when Malcolm and the Nation came on the scene, they was in formation. The Nation, the Fruit of Islam and everything was in formation. And they marched on that station and it was just Malcolm’s being in charge that let the chief of police and them know, you going to take our brother out of there now and put him in an ambulance and take him to the hospital.

And for me, it was similar to in the Panther movie where the Panthers, obeying the law, they can carry guns, they know their rights and stuff, started following the police around in the community. And when they seen the police getting ready to harass somebody, here they come, guns and everything. Police see them, and it’s like, no more of that. When the people started coming out of the clubs and stuff, this is nighttime, just seeing these armed Black brothers and sisters in formation kind of set something off in them that gave them not only a sense of pride, but a sense of what they could do to take back their lives against the ferocious police force. And that’s on that level. But the Panthers showed us that there was things that people needed as well. Food, clothing, medical clinics, all that stuff. No charge. It was like socialism.

No, that was communism, in practice. You don’t need no highfalutin words.

Mansa Musa: That’s right.

Ashanti Alston: But for people to see that for the capitalist, racist system to charge you for any of the necessities of life, that was a crime in itself. Now, you’ve got a reason to oppose what this system is doing to you, but for you to see, here’s the possibility for you to now come together within these organizations and through the guidance of these organizations into the kind of liberating forces we need to actually take control, to exercise a form of Black power in our communities. Malcolm is all in it. And the party’s ability to adapt it for that time period was what was so fantastic.

Mansa Musa: And that’s a good observation, Ashanti, because at the end of the day, that was was in LA where that incident happened with the Muslims.

Ashanti Alston: With the Muslims.

Mansa Musa: Yeah. That’s when Malcolm, that was in LA. But the observation is correct when we say that our presence and our discipline, which Paulette spoke about, our sense of humanity because we had an attitude towards the establishment. We understood that the establishment was vicious. We understood about fascism, imperialism, and capitalism, but at the same token, it was our love of our people that made us realize that we had to be humble and we had to be respectful to the people or we wasn’t going to be able to organize them or get them to come into the understanding of their self-determination and take control over their own life.

But in that regard, as we close, Paulette, give me some encouragement for our viewers going forward.

Paulette Dauteuil: Well, I think if you look at the fact that Dr. Matulu Shakur has been released from prison-

Mansa Musa: All power to the people.

Paulette Dauteuil: He was released and we have had five or six of our political prisoners released within the last year. There’s hope that by organizing, by having movie showings, by writing letters, by encouraging people to stand up and understand what our prisoners fought for, most of the Jericho prisoners came out of the COINTELPRO era. And so to see them now be able to walk out, even if it was 50 years, it was 50 years of people working, talking, writing letters, coming on radio shows, doing whatever we could in our communities so that people understood the importance. We cannot leave any of our prisoners behind. It is unthinkable that, if you call yourself a revolutionary, that you’re not doing something for political prisoners because they’ve already been on the front lines for us. And so for us to work diligently to bring them home, I think that’s one of the highest things we could ask, is somebody to help. And Pam Africa, she has this best saying, “If all you can do is lick a stamp, then we have some letters and stamps to send out.”

Mansa Musa: Ashanti, going forward, give our viewers and listeners some encouragement as we go forward.

Ashanti Alston: I think what’s important for me, and many of us, like Paulette and others, we’ve been doing this a long time. It’s a long struggle, we knew that. It’s a lot of wear and tear, but we hold fast to them dreams. And when we see young folks who are willing to embrace them dreams with their own dreams and actually figure out ways to organize, to fight for them dreams, we know that even those comrades who didn’t get out alive, but died inside, they know that it wasn’t in vain. It’s not in vain.

Mansa Musa: That’s right, that’s right.

Ashanti Alston: But we must struggle. We must be willing to keep our spirits up. We must be willing to understand, as George Jackson would say, “Man, this monster, this monster got to go down if we’re going to be free.” This is Turtle Island. And on Turtle Island, they built an empire, but Turtle Island is still there and all these people from the different struggles still want to be free and we got to figure out those ways to bring us together that we felt like it was happening in the sixties, but it didn’t. But we can now go at it again with more wisdom, more insight, more creativity. But it’s got to be no compromise on what has to happen to this monster. Our dreams is like number one, let’s fight for them.

Mansa Musa: There you have it. The real news about Malcolm X, got two powerful comrades here. Their work speaks for themselves. I like Paulette’s encouragement as well as Ashanti’s. Paulette’s encouragement is that we have brought home our brothers and sisters, we have made a difference. As Ashanti say that the monster has to go down and the monster is going down. We continue to encourage everyone to do whatever you it is you can do. Like licking stamps. We got stamped envelopes. Knock on the door, we got doors for you to knock on. Stand out and hold up a sign. Stand out and hold up a sign. But whatever it is, resistance is possible and resistance is necessary.

Thank you, brothers and sisters, for coming on and enlightening our audience. When we ask that you continue to support Rattling the Bars and the Real News. As you can see, it’s the real news. You’re not going to hear about Jericho on NBC, ABC, and CBS. No, you’re not going to hear about the good work that the brothers and sisters in Jericho is doing. You’re not going to hear about Matulu Shakur and what’s going on with his health and how he’s out or Assata Shakur. You’re not going to hear about these things from nobody but the real news and networks like The Real News. Thank you and have a nice day.

Sign Up To Our Daily Digest

Independent media outlets are being suppressed and dropped by corporations like Google, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our daily email digest before it’s too late so you don’t miss the latest movement news.