Who was Malcolm X?

Fifty-five years after his assassination, the question still looms.

History has told us that Malcolm X was the anti-MLK. A brilliant man full of rage (and quips), he openly referred to white people as the devil. The existing one-dimensional myth of Malcolm X was configured by the mainstream media and punctuated with notes of racism and Islamophobia. As we are well aware that the history of black people in the United States is often misrepresented—it’s no surprise that narratives about Malcolm X (one of the most iconic civil rights leaders) are a bit, well, hollow.

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How, exactly, have we gotten Malcolm X wrong?

As Peniel E. Joseph, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., points out that Malcolm X was a beautifully dynamic human being who was far more than the fearsome leader that history has ascribed him to be.

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Malcolm X was unequivocally fierce with biting wit, but he was also a family man; a global political activist, traveling to the Middle East, Africa and Europe to advocate for a “radical human rights movement”; and heck, according to Joseph, the “by any means necessary icon” was even a funny dude.

“When we think about black public speakers in the history of black people, Malcolm is one of the funniest people ever,” says the professor. “He makes fun of racism and racist, but also makes fun of black people in a loving way, extemporaneously, not just privately, but in speeches as well.”

Perhaps the most important part of Malcolm X’s legacy is the ideas of black self-love, black self-determination and black self-dignity. He taught the belief that our liberation can only be found within ourselves.

“We were all ‘negroes’ before Malcolm X.” Joseph goes on, “Malcolm X taught black men and women, children, boys and girls to love being black. Not just African American, but black, because black is global and connected to the diaspora.”

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On what would have been Malcolm X’s 95th birthday, let us remember the fullness of who this icon truly was. See the entire video above.

Afro-Cuban woman that was born and branded in New York. When León isn't actually creating cool videos, she's thinking of cool videos that she can create.

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DISCUSSION

ionithus
Mr Boomman

“We were all ‘negroes’ before Malcolm X.” Joseph goes on, “Malcolm X taught black men and women, children, boys and girls to love being black. Not just African American, but black, because black is global and connected to the diaspora.”

This here. Malcom X was the man and the legend, no myth. A true revolutionary. But this has to be one of the most important things when it comes to the black struggle (or however you want to label it). No Africa wasn’t a utopian continent. Yes African fought each other. HOWEVER, it wasn’t as deviant as it was when the Europeans came, creating a different type hatred toward each other. That shit went to a whole different level. At the end of the day, we’ve all been duped. It’s not just African Americans who deserve reparations, it’s the entire diaspora. Africans have helped create wealth for others around the world without getting anything in return and still do. Yet WE still have people continuing on with divisive talk, “You’ve never been to Africa, so you can’t claim Africa.” While other groups can claim their immediate predecessors (without having been to whatever country) all day with no issue. It’s almost as if some of these individuals praise the slave master for raping the women since they’ll sure as hell participate in St Patrick’s day events and others. Let’s not forget, it doesn’t really even matter if you knew where your immediate predecessors came from or not since Africa has THE MOST diverse communities globally. How we pronounce certain words, do our hair, vibe to the rhythm of the drum, etc is pretty much an African essence that’s been infused with another culture.

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