Happy Birthday Malcolm X: A Reflection of his 56th Anniversary
BY SUSAN JOHNES
We choose to remember the works of Malcolm X every year when he marks his birthday. Yesterday marked the 56th anniversary of Malcolm X.
Many Facebook posts, articles, and tweets focused on his efforts put to fight and advocate for the black power movement. Unfortunately, very few people focused on the personal impact he had in the empowerment of black women throughout the civil rights movement.
The African-American leader was a prominent figure in the Nation of Islam. He articulated concepts of race, pride and Black Nationalism in the 1950s and ’60s.
Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. Since childhood, he was a prominent Black Nationalist leader. His efforts saw the Nation of Islam grow from a mere 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960.
Malcolm X was a passionate and a naturally gifted and inspirational orator. He exhorted blacks to cast off the shackles of racism “by any means necessary,” including violence.
In 1938, Malcolm X was expelled from school and sent to a juvenile detention home in Mason, Michigan. He moved to Boston to live with his half-sister, Ella. Malcolm X frequented nightclubs, dance halls and turned entirely to crime to finance his lavish lifestyle. In 1946, he was arrested on charges of larceny and sentenced to ten years in jail.
During his imprisonment, Malcolm X read consistently, and that’s where the idea to secure freedom, justice, and equality for black Americans developed. Upon his release in 1952, Malcolm X abandoned his surname “Little,” for the surname “X,” a tribute to the unknown name of his African ancestors.
On the evening of February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, where he was about to deliver a speech, three gunmen rushed the stage and shot him 15 times.
Malcolm X was pronounced dead on arrival at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital shortly after that. At the time of his death, he was 39 years old.
Malcolm X’s greatest contribution to society was underscoring the value of a truly free populace by demonstrating the great lengths to which human beings will go to secure their freedom.
He used to live by his favorite principle, “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression.” Throughout his life in the civil rights movement, Malcolm X focused on women empowerment, ensuring fairness and equality of women to enjoy gender roles, prestige, and property.
Malcolm was not adamant about uplifting women publicly. In his letter to friend Maya Angelou, Malcolm X writes, “You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful woman. I will always do my utmost to be helpful to you in any way possible. Therefore, don’t hesitate.”
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