Tag Archives: Nation of Islam

Remembering: Muhammad Ali

The Greatest of All Times

thMuhammad Ali, known as the greatest boxer of all times and viewed by most as the “Champ,” retired as the first three-time Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., the elder of two boys in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who was named after the 19th-century abolitionist and politician, the owner of Clay’s ancestors. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964.

Clay was directed toward boxing by a white Louisville police officer whom he encountered as a 12-year-old fuming over the theft of his bicycle. After an extremely successful amateur boxing career, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant.

Not only was the Champ a fighter in the ring, but he also had the courage to fight the U.S. Government in 1967 when he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.

Standing tall at 6 feet, 3 inches, Clay had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer. Rather than the normal style of carrying the hands high to defend the face, he instead relied on foot speed and quickness to avoid punches and carried his hands low. He coined a new technique called the rope-a-dope where he rested on the ring ropes and let the dope, his opponent, punch himself out. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents on television and in person before the match and often with rhymes.

These personality quips and idioms, along with an unorthodox fighting technique, made him a cultural icon. Ali built a reputation by correctly predicting, with stunning accuracy, the round in which he would “finish” an opponent. While still Cassius Clay, he adopted the latter practice from “Gorgeous” George Wagner, a popular professional wrestling champion who drew thousands of fans. Often referred to as “the man you loved to hate,” George could incite the crowd with a few heated remarks, which Ali used to his advantage.

As Clay, he met his famous longtime trainer Angelo Dundee during a light heavyweight fight in Louisville shortly after becoming the top contender to fight Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston. Despite his impressive record, he was not widely expected to defeat Liston, who was considered a more sinister champion than Iron Mike Tyson. In fact, nobody gave him a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the fight against such a dominant champion.

The fight was scheduled for February 25, 1964, in Miami, Florida, but it almost never happened because the promoter heard that Clay had been seen around Miami and in other cities with the controversial Muslim Leader, Malcolm X. The promoters perceived this association as a potential gate killer to the fight where Liston was overwhelmingly favored to win. However, it was Clay’s colorful persona and nonstop braggadocio that gave the fight its sole appeal.

The ever-boastful Clay frequently taunted Liston during the buildup to the bout by dubbing him “the big ugly bear” among other things. During the weigh-in on the day before the bout, acting like a wild crazy man, Clay declared for the first time that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” He summarized his strategy for avoiding Liston’s assaults this way: “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”

By the third round, Clay was ahead on points and had opened a cut under Liston’s eye. Liston regained some ground in the fourth, as Clay was blinded by a substance in his eyes. It is unconfirmed whether this was something used to close Liston’s cuts or deliberately applied to Liston’s gloves. What is clear, boxing historians and insiders have recalled, is that in at least two other Liston fights a similar situation occurred, suggesting the possibility that the Liston corner deliberately attempted to cheat.

By the sixth, Clay dominated Liston and was looking for a finish. Then Liston shocked the boxing world when he failed to answer the bell for the seventh round, claiming his shoulder was injured. At the end of the fight, Clay boasted to the press that doubted him before the match, proclaiming, “I shook up the world!” When Clay beat Liston at age 22, he became the youngest boxer ever to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, a mark that stood until the Mike Tyson’s reign began.

What is significant about Clay winning the bout is this: he said, “I am pretty, I can’t be beat” as he yelled into the cameras for the world to see. In the early sixties, this was not the language Negro’s were using to describe themselves. Those words and that brash act was the catalyst for the black is beautiful movement, Afro-American, and black power. So from that perspective, yes, he shook up the world.

After winning the championship, Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. It was the movement’s leader Elijah Muhammad who gave Clay the name Cassius X, discarding his surname as a symbol of his ancestors’ enslavement, as had been done by other Nation members. On Friday, March 6, 1964, Malcolm X took Clay on a tour of the United Nations building where he announced that Clay would be granted his “X.” That same night, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement over the phone to be played over the radio that Clay would be renamed Muhammad – one who is worthy of praise, and Ali – rightly guided.

The rematch with Liston was held in May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine. Ali, who had changed his name by this time, won by knockout in the first round as a result of what came to be called the “phantom punch.” Many believe that Liston, possibly as a result of threats from Nation of Islam extremists or in an attempt to “throw” the fight to pay off debts, waited to be counted out. However, most historians discount both scenarios and insist that it was a quick, chopping punch to the side of the head that legitimately fell Liston. Ali would later call the punch an “anchor punch” used by the Great Jack Johnson.

Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam made him a lightning rod for controversy, turning the outspoken but popular champion into one of that era’s most recognizable and controversial figures. Appearing at rallies with Elijah Muhammad and declaring his allegiance to him at a time when mainstream America viewed Black Muslims with suspicion and outright hostility made Ali a target of outrage, as well as suspicion. Ali seemed at times to provoke such reactions with viewpoints that wavered from support for civil rights to outright support of separatism.

For example, Ali once made this comment in relation to integration: “We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.” Or this remark about inter-racial marriage: “No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.” It was clear that his religious beliefs at the time included the notion that the white man was “the devil” and that white people were not “righteous.” Ali would also make claims that white people hated black people.

In early 1966, Ali was reclassified to be eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army during a time when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War. When notified of this status, he declared that he would refuse to serve in the Army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector. Ali believed “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”

Ali also famously said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them, Viet Cong … They never called me Nigger.” It was rare for a heavyweight boxing champion in those days, or now, to speak at Howard University where he gave his popular “Black Is Best” speech in 1996. Ali was invited to speak by Howard’s sociology professor Nathan Hare on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group. The event of 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals was surely another step toward his iconic stature.

Appearing shortly thereafter for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967, in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested and on the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title as did other boxing commissions, for being unpatriotic.

At Ali’s trial, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty; the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction; the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. During this time, the public began turning against the war and support for Ali began to grow. Ali supported himself by speaking at colleges and universities across the country, where opposition to the war was especially strong. On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court reversed by unanimous decision his conviction for refusing induction. The decision was not based on, nor did it address the merits of Clay’s/Ali’s claims per se; rather, the government’s failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.

The legacy of the “Greatest” is the stuff movies are made of – Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era, which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. Ali was named “Fighter of the Year” by Ring Magazine more times than any other fighter and was involved in more Ring Magazine “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter. He is an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and holds wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees.

He is also one of only three boxers to be named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as one of the most recognized athletes, out of over 800 dead or alive athletes, in America.

I have met Muhammad and was so impressed I named my only son after him, hoping his example of courage and fortitude would be shared. He is my hero, and I say: thank you for your example and sacrifice. You are the Greatest of All Times. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…..

Black History is American History


Malcolm X Assassinated At The Audubon Ballroom In 1965

773_160Malcolm X, Black Nationalist leader and civil rights activists, is killed as he was about to address his followers. This happened a week after his Queens home was firebombed.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Archives
Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 10:03 AM
Exported.;

Malcolm X is removed on stretcher from Audubon Ballroom.

(Originally published by the Daily News on Feb. 22, 1965. This story was written by John Mallon, Henry Machirella and Leeds Moberley.)

A week after he was fire-bombed out of his Queens home, Black Nationalist leader Malcolm X was shot to death shortly after 3 P.M. yesterday as he started to address a Washington Heights rally of some 400 of his devoted followers.

Three other men were wounded in the wild burst of firing from at least three weapons – a .38 and a .45 automatic pistol and a sawed-off shotgun – although only the shotgun was recovered. One of the wounded was identified by witnesses as one of the killers, but the role of the others was not clear. Nor was it established how any of them got their wounds.

Police believed the murder detail consisted of at least five men, and every available witness was being questioned last night at the Wadsworth Ave. station.

Malcolm’s followers were quick to accuse the Black Muslims, whom he had blamed for the bombing of his home. Half a dozen of his bodyguards were reported last night to be en route to Chicago to wreak vengeance on Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims. Police were unable to confirm the report but an alert was out.

Denies That Black Muslims Are Responsible

Elijah’s New York spokesman, James X, denied the Black Muslims were responsible for the bombing.

Malcolm’s wife, Betty Shabazz, said last night at a brief press conference in George’s Nightspot, 103-04 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens, that her husband “knew he would be killed some day.” But she only shook her head when newsmen asked who the killers were. She also said that although she was present when the assassins struck, she did not see the shooting – which contradicted earlier reports.

Meanwhile, as a precaution against possible clashes between the Muslims and Malcolm’s Afro-American Union – which he set up when he broke with the Muslims last year – the police asked the Muslims to close their Harlem mosques last night, including Mosque No. 7 at 102 W. 116th St., where Malcolm used to be the head man. The Muslims complied.

Scene of the assassination was the Audubon Ballroom at 166th St. and Broadway. An introductory speaker who immediately preceded Malcolm on the rostrum had just told the faithful:

“Malcolm is a man who would give his life for you. There aren’t many men who would lay down their lives for you.”

Then Malcolm stepped forward to a thunderous ovation. When the cheering died out, he spoke three words – “Brothers and Sisters” – and got no further.

Scuffle Breaks Out At Back of Hall

NEW YORK DAILY NEWSEnlarge
New York Daily News published this on Feb. 22, 1965.
New York Daily News published this on Feb. 22, 1965.

Witnesses reported that a scuffle, apparently a diversionary maneuver, broke out in the back of the hall, and at the same time, two men, both about 5 feet 6, arose in the audience and moved briskly down the aisle toward the stage. Then a third man came running after them.

“Just a minute, brother,” Malcolm said, and the next instant the place was pandemonium. A phalanx of bodyguards was ranged in front of their leader, facing the audience, but they had no time to intercept the gunman. The men opened fire from a distance of about eight feet; the terrified faithful dropped to the floor as bullets whizzed and ricocheted, and Malcolm X fell mortally wounded.

When the shooting stopped and the men started out, the crowd, went into action. Police arrived just in time to rescue them from a howling mob of about 150 who caught them as they reached the street and, amid screams of “Kill them! Kill them!” were punching and pummeling them unmercifully.

Malcolm, a 39-year-old 6-footer with a slim athletic build, was wheeled on a stretcher bed to the Vanderbilt Clinic of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, 200 feet away, but attempts to revive him were futile and he was pronounced dead at 3:30 P.M.

A hospital spokesman, reporting that Malcolm had been shot several times in the chest and face, said he was “medically dead” when he reached the clinic’s third-floor emergency room.

Because of expected heightened tension between the warring Black Nationalist groups – Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity and Elijah Muhammad’s Chicago-based Black Muslims – Police Commissioner Murphy ordered extra police and mobile units into the area.

A FEB. 21, 1965 FILE PHOTO RELEASED BY WCBS-TV. MANDATORY CREDIT. BEST AVAILABLE QUALITY.WCBS-TV NEWS PHOTO VIA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP

Thomas Hagan, 22, struggles with police who take him from the scene outside the ballroom where Malcolm X was shot and killed in New York. Hagan, was one of three gunmen who shot Malcolm X as he began a speech at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom.

Ever since Malcolm X defected from the Black Muslims a year ago, he has been charging the Muslims with plotting to kill him.

A week ago yesterday, when he and his family were fire-bombed out of the East Elmhurst house, he intimated the job was done by the Black Muslims.

The Black Muslims said Malcolm X had done the bombing himself in a grab for publicity.

Moments before the shooting two radio patrolmen were talking outside the hall of a sergeant. Moments after the shots rang out from the hall, the doors burst open, the policemen said, and two dozen screaming persons emerged, on the heels of two men. The mob screamed, “Kill them, don’t let them get away.”

The two men, [African-Americans], were overtaken by the shouting mob. Both were taking a beating when the cops moved in and rescued them. The men were put into a police car and rushed from the scene.

Alarm Sent Out For 1963 Oldsmobile

EXP;AP

Malcolm X lies mortally wounded on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom after his assassin struck. His followers try to comfort him. Autopsy revealed that he died from shotgun wounds to the heart.

The shots and shouts also were heard by Sgt. Alvin Aranoff and Patrolman Louis Angelos, both of the W. 152d St. precinct, who were driving by.

They saw that the mob, which had now swelled to more than 100, was beating and stomping a third man, later identified as Thomas Hagan, 22, who had a bullet wound in the leg.

The crowd was shouting, “Kill him, kill him. He’s the one who shot Malcolm.”

As the cops tried to rescue Hagan, the mob turned on them. Aranoff backed them off by firing a shot in the air, then he and the patrolman whisked the wounded man to the Wadsworth St. station house.

The suspect would say nothing other than to give his name and age. Who had shot him and whether he was one of Malcolm’s followers or one of the assassins could not be learned. A loaded .45 clip and $30 were found in his pockets.

He was taken to Jewish Memorial Hospital, at 196th St. and Broadway, where each of two persons who witnessed the shooting said, when asked if Hagan was the killer, “I think he is.”

;37318ANONYMOUS/AP

Followers tend to Malcolm X as he lies mortally wounded on the stage of the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem after being shot on Feb. 21, 1965.

Hagan later was transferred to the Bellevue Hospital prison ward.

The other two men rescued by the cops were taken to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, where they were identified as Willie Harris, and William Parker, of 23-05 30th Ave., Astoria, Queens.

A short time after the shooting, police sent out an alarm for a 1963 blue Oldsmobile with license number-1 G 2220. It was learned the car was registered in the name of Muslim Mosque, 23-11 97th St. East Elmhurst.

The address is that of the house where Malcolm X and his family were routed from their beds by Molotov cocktails last week. In the past week Malcolm X had moved out after being ordered evicted. The house had been a subject of dispute between the rival black nationalist groups since Malcolm X defected from the Muslims.

After the hail of bullets, Malcolm X was placed on a stretcher. A rolling bed was brought from Columbia-Presbyterian and he was wheeled 200 yards diagonally across Broadway to the emergency room.

Wife is Hysterical: Photographers Threatened

This is the Audubon ballroom in upper Harlem, New York, after it was roped off by police following the assassination of Malcolm X, February 21, 1965. The civil rights leader was standing at the podium on stage in the background.AL BURLEIGH/ASSOCIATED PRESS

This is the Audubon ballroom in upper Harlem, New York, after it was roped off by police following the assassination of Malcolm X, February 21, 1965. The civil rights leader was standing at the podium on stage in the background.

He was followed by his weeping hysterical wife and a group of his closest followers. When photographers sought to take pictures of Mrs. Malcolm X, the Black Nationalists moved toward the lensmen and yelled, “Put them down.”

Mrs. Malcolm X and a small group got into Malcolm’s white Dodge and drove to the hospital. They were there when the pronouncement came that Malcolm X was dead.

The body later was transferred to the City Morgue.

Malcolm X’s lawyer, Assemblyman Percy Sutton, said Malcolm X’s wife – whom he referred to as Sister Betty – had reported that her husband’s car and briefcase were missing. It was not known from where they disappeared.

The wife, he said, was staying with friends in Queens. He described Malcolm X as “practically destitute” and uninsured.

Deputy Detective Inspector Thomas Renaghan, in charge of the Sixth Division, said that Malcolm was shot at close range with both .45 and .38 pistols.

This is an exterior view of the Audubon Ballroom on 166th Street at Broadway in the Harlem section of Manhattan, where black Muslim leader Malcolm X was assassinated as he addressed a rally on Feb. 21, 1965.ANONYMOUS/ASSOCIATED PRESS

This is an exterior view of the Audubon Ballroom on 166th Street at Broadway in the Harlem section of Manhattan, where black Muslim leader Malcolm X was assassinated as he addressed a rally on Feb. 21, 1965.

Immediately after the shots were fired at Malcolm, someone dashed up the center aisle, firing additional shots. Police said they were not able to determine immediately whether that person was an assailant or a follower of Malcolm chasing the assassins.

A spent bullet was found in the hallway leading to the street.

Four Guards Standing Just Below Platform

Police said that four of Malcolm’s guards were standing just below the platform when he was hit. They were among the two dozen screaming persons who chased the attackers into the street and started tearing them apart.

Describing the scene, Acting Chief Inspector Harry Taylor of Manhattan North, said, “He had just walked up to the stage, raised his hand in Muslim greeting and said: ‘Salaam, Aleikem.’ (Peace be with you.) There was scuffling in the ballroom.” The shooting followed.

Police found a sawed-off shotgun behind the stage of the ballroom. Both the stock and barrel had been shortened. The weapon was wrapped in a man’s dark gray jacket. It was not known whether the shogun had been used in the shooting.

Exported.;BUCKLEY, ARTHUR

Malcolm X’s widow Betty Shabazz leaves morgue with attorney Percy Sutton and undertaker Joseph Hall after identifying husband’s body.

Commenting on the fatal gunning of the Black Nationalist leader, Sanford Garelick, assistant chief police inspector in charge of the Central Office of Bureaus and Squads, said:

“This is the result, it would seem, of a long-standing feud between the followers of Elijah Muhammad, head of the Black Muslims, and the people who broke away from him, headed by Malcolm X.”

Seeking Shelter From Assailants

The Malcolm X feared for his life was evident in his actions of Saturday. Apparently seeking to hide from any assailants, he checked into the New York Hilton shortly after 4 P.M. He was accompanied by two [African-American] men.

Taking the $18-a-day Room 1206, he registered as M. Shabazz, of 2090 Seventh Ave., which is the address of Harlem’s Hotel Theresa. He said he would stay at the Hilton for two days.

At 10 P.M. three [African-American] men showed up in the lobby and started to question a bellhop about Malcolm X’s whereabouts.

Receiving no information, they stayed around for an hour. The bellhop alerted the hotel’s security men, and the three were closely watched until they left.

At 7 A.M. yesterday [African-American] employees arriving at the hotel were questioned about the location of Malcolm X’s room by a [African-American] man. The questioner got no information.


By Any Means Necessary

012_1000I have often said, “We stand on the shoulders of giants”. One such man was Malcolm X, later known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was without a doubt one of the most profoundly significant, famous, and controversial African American leaders recorded in the annals of time. I cannot recall any other MAN, except maybe Dr. King, whose impact was so overwhelmingly felt by so many. Minister Malcolm’s prophetic words spoken over nearly fifty years ago resonate as relevant today as the day they were spoken evoking the same emotions of truth.

I could go deeply into the making of this man but so many people, agencies, institutions and organizations have covered this great man’s brief life on earth in much more detail than I can. There is a vast sea of in-depth analyses, books, movies, and biographies on his life and philosophies to which I strongly suggest you explore and learn from. I will not try to rewrite history rather to pay homage to the legacy of this great man as brief as I can, honoring him for his contributions to the African American Diaspora.

There are facts (known & unknown), suspicions and of course theories surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, the impact it has had on our culture and the world the world. Like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X also had a dream. It began bathed in the tenets of anger and hatred, fostering economic independence on the shoulders of retaliatory separatism that ended with the swelling acceptance of a unified brotherhood and the replacement of hatred with peace and with the nagging thirst for international equality for all mankind.

As the story goes, early in Malcolm’s life a white teacher asked him what he would like to be and his answer was “a lawyer”. The teacher, who had encouraged his white students on their career choices, told Malcolm, “That’s no realistic goal for a nigger”. This statement discouraged a bright student to not seek his full potential leading to a life of crime. After being caught and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon he was sentenced to prison. While serving more than six years he began educating himself, converted to the Islamic faith and became a Black Muslim in the Nation of Islam (NOI).

After his release in 1952, Malcolm Little, now known as Malcolm X, went to Detroit and began to actively preach to the frustrated African American population about what Islam had to offer. It made no difference where he conducted his sermons and teachings, whether on the streets or in a temple. He spread the word to anyone who would listen.

It was not long before Malcolm became a favorite of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He was made a minister and began to travel from city to city, preaching the message, founding new temples and converting thousands of people to the faith. Two years later, Malcolm X became minister of the famed Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York.

In April of 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca which led to his second conversion. He met brothers of the faith who were from many nations and of many races, black, brown, white, and all the sons of Allah. The reality dawned on him that advocating racial cooperation and brotherhood would help resolve the racial problems in America and, hopefully, lead to a peaceful coexistence throughout the world. Malcolm X’s transformed ideas and dreams reached full fruition and were ready for implementation. He changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and found himself going against the system, but this time he would not be alone in the fight for equality and justice.

Upon learning of the assassination of Malcolm X, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked that “One has to conquer the fear of death if he is going to do anything constructive in life and take a stand against evil”. We may never know all of the facts about who was behind the assassination or who ordered his death. But we do know that these assassins denied him the chance to act upon his newly formed convictions.

Today, the man and the name, Malcolm X, are known in America and throughout the world. He was a celebrated freedom fighter and motivating force to those whose future he had the vision to see, the will to stand up and fight for. Postage stamps and posters now bear his image out of recognition and honor for his final crusade.

The eulogy that actor Ossie Davis delivered at his funeral profoundly impresses upon us that, “However we may have differed with him, or with each other about him and his value as a man, let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man but a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is a Prince, our own black shining Prince! Who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

Malcolm X was a man who fulfilled his place in history and stayed true to his words: “It is a time for martyr’s now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood.”

A collection of Malcolm X Speeches

And That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

 


By Any Means Necessary

Malcolm X was no doubt one of the most profoundly significant, famous, and controversial African American leaders of our time. I cannot recall any other MAN, except maybe Dr. King, whose impact was so overwhelmingly felt by so many. The Minister Malcolm’s prophetic words spoken over forty-five years ago resonate as relevant today as the day they were spoken evoking the same emotions of truth.

February 21st is the anniversary, for lack of a better word, of Minister Malcolm X’s assassination at the Audubon Ballroom that has yet to be fully resolved in the minds of most of us. What I can say is that we lost a champion unlike anyone I have witnessed in my lifetime. Therefore, it would be blasphemy to dedicate an entire month to the ghost of the greats and not include the most articulate orator of our time.

I could go deeply into the making of this man but so many people, agencies, institutions and organizations have covered this great man’s brief life on earth in much more detail than I can. As you know, there is a vast sea of in-depth analyses, books, movies, and biographies on his life and philosophies. I will not try to rewrite history rather simply pay homage to the legacy of this great man as brief as I can, honoring him for his contributions to the African American Diaspora.

There are facts (known & unknown), suspicions and of course theories surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, the impact it has had on our culture and the world the world. Like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X also had a dream. It began bathed in the tenets of anger and hatred, fostering economic independence on the shoulders of retaliatory separatism that ended with the swelling acceptance of a unified brotherhood and the replacement of hatred with peace and with the nagging thirst for international equality for all mankind.

As the story goes, early in Malcolm’s life a white teacher asked him what he would like to be and his answer was “a lawyer”. The teacher, who had encouraged his white students on their career choices, told Malcolm, “That’s no realistic goal for a nigger”. This statement discouraged a bright student to not seek his full potential leading to a life of crime. After being caught and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon he was sentenced to prison. While serving more than six years he began educating himself, converted to the Islamic faith and became a Black Muslim in the Nation of Islam (NOI).

After his release in 1952, Malcolm Little, now known as Malcolm X, went to Detroit and began to actively preach to the frustrated African American population about what Islam had to offer. It made no difference where he conducted his sermons and teachings, whether on the streets or in a temple. He spread the word to anyone who would listen.

It was not long before Malcolm became a favorite of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He was made a minister and began to travel from city to city, preaching the message, founding new temples and converting thousands of people to the faith. Two years later, Malcolm X became minister of the famed Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York.

In April of 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca which led to his second conversion. He met brothers of the faith who were from many nations and of many races, black, brown, white, and all the sons of Allah. The reality dawned on him that advocating racial cooperation and brotherhood would help resolve the racial problems in America and, hopefully, lead to a peaceful coexistence throughout the world. Malcolm X’s transformed ideas and dreams reached full fruition and were ready for implementation. He changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and found himself going against the system, but this time he would not be alone in the fight for equality and justice.

It did not take long for the reactionaries to strike out at Malcolm X. Members of the NOI resented what they thought were his attempts to supplant Elijah Muhammad. Government entities feared his involving the NOI in international issues, as well as his starting to lean too far to the left, while law enforcement officials looked upon him and his actions as radical, criminal and detrimental to society.

Early on the morning of February 14, 1965, Malcolm and his family were peacefully asleep in their home in Elmhurst, New York. They were suddenly awakened by the sounds of shattering glass and explosions. Several Molotov cocktails had been thrown through their living room window, engulfing the house in roaring flames. Malcolm and his wife, Betty, quickly gathered their children and rushed out of the burning house. Once safe, they stood outside in the cold air, watching as their home and possessions burned. It was never determined who had tried to kill them, though Malcolm did tell authorities he thought it may have been the NOI.

Just one week later at a scheduled appearance at the Audubon Ballroom, which was almost full on a cold February day with over 400 followers of Islam anxiously awaiting Brother Malcolm X. No uniformed police were visible inside the Audubon, but two were stationed outside the entrance although it was common knowledge that an attempt on Malcolm’s life was a real possibility. Inside the Audubon Ballroom, several dark-suited NOI guards were positioned near the stage and towards the rear of the room. As soldiers of the NOI, the militancy of the neatly dressed men was evident in their demeanor, as they surveyed the room, quietly watching the seating of late arrivals.

Malcolm X, his pregnant wife and their four children waited as a tense and nervous Malcolm X ordered two of his guards to take his family out into the hall to their seats in a box near the front of the stage. Seemingly irritated and exhausted, Malcolm X mentioned to his aides that he had reservations about speaking. Malcolm’s misgivings were reflected in his taut features as his restless eyes darted around the room as he listened to Brother Benjamin Goodman making his opening speech.

At approximately 3:08 pm, Brother Benjamin ended his speech and introduced Malcolm X, who walked out onto the stage to a lengthy ovation.
Malcolm stepped up to a wooden podium and looked out at the audience. When the applause finally settled down, he offered the audience the Muslim greeting and smiled when they responded in-kind. Just as he began to speak again, a commotion broke out near the rear of the ballroom. Two men jumped up, knocking wooden folding-chairs to the floor, as one of the men yelled, “Get your hand out of my pocket!” As Malcolm responded with cool it there brothers, a loud explosion suddenly erupted in the back of the room, which began to fill with smoke.

Malcolm’s bodyguards and aides hardly had time to react as the well coordinated ruses effectively diverted their attention from him, allowing unopposed gunmen to begin their attack. A man rose from the front row and pulled out a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun from under his coat and fired twice at Malcolm.

Simultaneously, as Malcolm was falling backwards and clutching his bloody chest, two more men jumped up and fired pistols at him as they rushed the stage. Although Malcolm was down, the two men repeatedly fired bullets into his body before turning and running to flee the premises. More shots were fired as they ran.

Betty Shabazz shielded her children with her body beneath a bench. As soon as the shooting ceased, she rushed toward the still body of her husband as she screamed, “They’re killing my husband! They’re killing my husband!” When she reached his side she realized he was dead, despite the frantic efforts of followers trying to stop the flow of blood from his bullet riddled body.

Upon learning of the assassination of Malcolm X, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked that “One has to conquer the fear of death if he is going to do anything constructive in life and take a stand against evil”. We may never know all of the facts about who was behind the assassination or who ordered his death. But we do know that these assassins denied him the chance to act upon his newly formed convictions.

Today, the man and the name, Malcolm X, are known in America and throughout the world. He was a celebrated freedom fighter and motivating force to those whose future he had the vision to see, the will to stand up and fight for. Postage stamps and posters now bear his image out of recognition and honor for his final crusade.

The eulogy that actor Ossie Davis delivered at his funeral profoundly impresses upon us that, “However we may have differed with him, or with each other about him and his value as a man, let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man but a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is a Prince, our own black shining Prince! Who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

Malcolm X was a man who fulfilled his place in history and stayed true to his words: “It is a time for martyr’s now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood.”

A collection of Malcolm X Speeches

And That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

Black History is American History
“Just a Season”
Legacy – A New Season the sequel is coming!


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