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Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz a.k.a Malcolm X

This page is in honor of the great leader, Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz a.k.a Malcolm X. I became fascinated with Malcolm X in 9th grade when I came upon his book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Before reading the book, I knew little to nothing about the man that I now have come to admire and respect so much.

My summary

Timeline

The Autobiography

Speech/Picture

Letter From Hajj

Picture Collage

Eulogy

Malcolm X was born as Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. He later changed his surname to X because he believed Little was the last name of a white slave owner; X stands for his unknown African name.

Malcolm X spent his childhood in Lansing, Michigan. He grew up disliking much of the white race. This was mainly because of how he saw most black people being treated by whites and how the Ku Klux Klan repeatedly harassed his father, a Baptist minister. In the autobiography, Malcolm X mentions a day in 1931 when he found his father run over by a street car, his skull on one side, severely crushed in. To add to Malcolm's distress, his mother was soon declared mentally ill and was sent to the Kalamazoo Mental Facility, which broke up the large family.

Malcolm X's life was great with his "new" family. He even started enjoying high school, which was integrated. He was very popular and got one of the best grade cards. Malcolm X remembers a time when his English teacher asked him a question, "Malcolm, you ought to be thinking about a career. Have you been giving it thought?" Malcolm replied that he'd like to be a lawyer. The teacher laughed in his face. At that time, successful Lansing African-American people were waiters, janitors, busboys, etc. That was a crucial point for Malcolm X..when he realized that at the time, the black person was not equal to the white person.

After high school, he went to Detroit. This is when the "thug years" began. Malcolm X was on his own and hung around a dangerous group of friends. A few years later, he was selling drugs, stealing, and carried a loaded gun with him at all times.

Fortunately, he got caught one day in a jewelry store. Malcolm X was only 21 years old when he was sent to prison for eight years. In prison, he found the two things missing from his life, religion and education.

In prison, Malcolm X spent much time reading books. He even copied each page from the dictionary and memorized as many words as he could. Malcolm X would stay up after the lights went out at 10 pm, reading. He would sit on the floor and read from the hallway light, staying up as late as 3 or 4 am. Malcolm X developed astigmatism due to this.

While in prison, Malcolm's siblings had discovered the Nation of Islam. Reginald, Malcolm's younger brother, wrote him a letter, which said, "Don't eat any more pork, and don't smoke any more cigarettes. I'll show you how to get out of prison." Malcolm X obeyed.

During a bible class held in prison, Malcolm X challenged the instructor, "What color was Jesus..he was Hebrew..wasn't he?" The instructor finally answered, "He was brown."

Malcolm X believed Christianity was not suitable for him. He believed that Christianity was the white man's religion. "..we're worshiping a Jesus that doesn't even look like us!..The blond-haired, blue-eyed white man has taught you and me to worship a white Jesus. The white man has taught us to shout and sing until we die, to wait until death, for some dreamy heaven-in-the-hereafter, when we're dead while this white man has his milk and honey in the streets paved with golden dollars right here on this earth!"(Malcolm X, Autobiography) Malcolm X joined the Black Muslims, under the leader Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm had much hatred toward the white race, calling them "white devils". At this point, Malcolm was not a "true" Muslim, he was a member of the Nation of Islam. "True" Muslims do not believe Elijah Muhammad to be the divine messenger from Allah, as do the members of the Nation of Islam.

In 1961, Malcolm X felt betrayed by Elijah Muhammad. He had thought of Elijah as a "symbol of moral, mental, and spiritual reform among the American black people." However, after hearing repeated incidents of adultery, which Elijah was involved in, Malcolm's views changed. After twelve years, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam in 1963.

Now he turned to Islam. After his great pilgrimage to Mecca (see letter below), Malcolm X became known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Islam was a major influence in Malcolm X's life. This was the peak of Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz's life. He found the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which promoted black nationalism, but admitted the possibility of interracial brotherhood. For the first time, he could see an integrated, peaceful America. In an interview, Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz said, "I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being, neither white, black, brown, nor red."

Unfortunately, his life was cut short. Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz lived his new fulfilling life for only two years before he was assinated in 1965 in Harlem.

Malcolm X's life has influenced so many people and will continue to influence the lives of generations to come. The legacy of Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz still lives.

Malcolm X Timeline

May 19, 1925 - Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska

1940 - Drops out of school at age 15

1946 - Convicted of burglary and sent to prison

1949 - 1951 - Studies the Nation of Islam Jan. 14, 1958 - Marries Betty X

Dec. 4, 1963 - Suspended from the Nation of Islam

March 1964 - Leaves Nation of Islam, starts the Muslim Mosque, Inc.

Apr. 22, 1964 - Makes his Hajj and becomes El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz

Jun. 28, 1964 - Forms the Organization of Afro-American Unity

Jul. 17, 1964 - Speaks at the Organization of African Unity in Cairo

Aug. 13, 1964 - U.S. State and Justice Departments take notice of his influence on African leaders at the U.N.

Feb 21, 1965 - Al Hajj Malik assassinated in New York

My all time favorite book

"The most important book I'll ever read. It changed the way I thought, it changed the way I acted. It has given me courage, that I didn't know I had inside me. I'm one of hundreds of thousands whose life was changed for the better." -Spike Lee

Now that you have some background information on the great leader, go read the book..I guarantee you'll love it.


"I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole." -Malcolm X


When he was in Makkah, Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz wrote a letter to his loyal assistants in Harlem... from his heart:

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Kaba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white - but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color. You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug - while praying to the same God - with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana. We were truly all the same (brothers) - because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude. I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man - and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their differences in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called Christian white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster - the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves. Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities - he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the walls and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth - the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.

Never have I been so highly honored. Never have I been made to feel more humble and unworthy. Who would believe the blessings that have been heaped upon an American Negro? A few nights ago, a man who would be called in America a white man, a United Nations diplomat, an ambassador, a companion of kings, gave me his hotel suite, his bed. Never would I have even thought of dreaming that I would ever be a recipient of such honors - honors that in America would be bestowed upon a King - not a Negro.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.

Sincerely,

Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)

(From the AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X with assistance from Alex Haley)


Eulogy Delivered By Ossie Davis At The Funeral Of Malcolm X Faith Temple Church Of God, February 27,1965

Here - at this final hour, in this quiet place - Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes -exstinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought - his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are - and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again - in Harlem - to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended her honor even to the death. It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us - unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American - Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a 'Negro' years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted - so desperately - that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too. There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain - and we will smile. Many will say turn away - away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man - and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate - a fanatic, a racist - who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him. Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: 'My journey', he says, 'is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.' 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.
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