Today marks the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X and his legacy is as important as it ever was. However, there are those who clearly do not recall to what extent that legacy is still relevant today. The recent roe over his image being used as cover art for a single by rapper Nicki Minaj is indicative of that fact.
Some have besmirched that legacy because they believe he was too violent. But those viewpoints often fail to take into account that it was all done out of love for African Americans and their standing in America. He was anti-violence by all accounts. However, as is the case with most who fall under the freedom fight umbrella, he is often cast as little more than a terrorist by many within the African Diaspora and on the outside as well.
But Malcolm was not a violent man nor did he ever advocate wanton violence. During his Message to the Grass Roots speech in Detroit in 1963 he once said "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hands on you, send him to the cemetery." That doesn't sound like violence. Sounds like common sense no matter the race or background.
Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Earl and Louise Little. He grew from a dissatisfied blue collar worker to a street thug and ex-convict, but would eventually find his place as a member of the Nation of Islam under the tutelage of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Brother Malcolm went on to become one of the most polarizing figures of his day. During a time when many in the civil rights movement preferred non-violent activism as a means of change, Malcolm was vehement in his elocution about, and advocacy of, self-defense and black power during a time of brutal violence and institutional marginalization against black people across the nation.
But when he left the NOI over a bitter dispute that cast him as a traitor to Elijah Muhammad in 1964, X professed his independence before converting to Orthodox Sunni Islam and eventually taking the name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His continued advocacy would take the form of the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Malcolm was killed on February 21, 1965 at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City during a political meeting. He was an activist, intellectual and political organizer – the likes of which few in America could ever rival today.