Malcolm X lived a life marked by extremism. Confronted with extreme racism, Malcolm looked for extreme social and religious solutions; this would lead to both his redemption and his demise. This is the story of Malcolm X. Malcolm X lived a life of multiple identities. Born Malcolm Little in 1925, he was the son of a Nebraskan preacher. By the time he was in his teens he was known as ‘Detroit Red’ and had descended Into a sordid lifestyle of petty crime and drugs. Following his murder at just thirty-nine years of age, Malcolm X was buried as AAA Hajj]
Mali Sabbath – a radical Islamic cleric torn paradoxically between preaching the peace of Islam and Involvement In ruthless murders. Malcolm X was variously described as a father, a hero, a criminal and a terrorist. He certainly was a zealot whose extreme views could ultimately only lead to tragedy. Little grew up in an era marked by racism and extreme violence. Revolutionary educator, muscular and author Shining Suzuki stated that “A man is a child of his environment”. Malcolm Ax’s father was a victim of racial hatred and was murdered by the UK Klux Klan when he as just six years old. Undoubtedly, this event has had a major Impact on Malcolm future and ideology. The wisdom and truth of Suzuki statement was tragically borne out in the life of Malcolm Little. Malcolm X had an itinerant childhood, with his family relocating eight times before he was fourteen. In 1939. After his mother suffered a mental breakdown, Malcolm was sent to a juvenile home while his seven brothers and sisters were separated into various foster homes. In sass America, Malcolm X had no alternative but to immerse himself in an education system that was both segregated and openly bigoted.
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At Mason Junior High In Michigan, he studied humanities with the dream of becoming a lawyer. HIS favorite teacher told him “You’ve got to be realistic about being a Amiga. A lawyer; that’s no realistic goal for a Amiga. You need to think about something that you can be. You’re good with your hands, why don’t you plan on carpentry? ‘ (Myers, 1993) This was a turning point in Malcolm life, as he realized that African Americans faced Institutionalized oppression. Educational and employment opportunities simply dint exist for dark-skinned people and any pursuit of higher ambitions would be opposed and thwarted by the establishment.
In 1940 Malcolm X moved to Boston to live with his half-sister Ella; by now he had realized that formal education was not going to be a priority In his future. Ella landed Malcolm a job shining shoes at the Roseland Ballroom. However, out on his own on the streets of Boston, he became acquainted with some petty criminals and soon turned to selling drugs. As he fell deeper into the void of the city criminal underground, Malcolm Little fell further into life of drugs and crime.
Wearing flamboyant pinstriped ‘coot’ suits he frequented nightclubs and dance halls, selling narcotics to finance his high-end lifestyle. This phase in Malcolm Ax’s life came to a screeching stop when he was arrested for robbery and breaking and enter in 1946. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. To make up for the years of education that he missed by dropping out of high school. He was constantly visited by his three brothers (Philter, Wilfred and Reginald) who had Joined the Nation of Islam (NO’), which was a small group of African American Muslims who embraced the ideology of Black Nationalism.
Their manifesto was that in order to secure Justice, freedom and equality, African Americans needed to establish their own state, in which they would live completely separate from white Americans. Malcolm converted to the NON during his prison sentence and upon his release in 1952 he abandoned his surname “Little” as he associated it with slavery and took up the surname “X”, in tribute to his nameless African ancestors. Free from prison, Malcolm X traveled to Michigan where he worked with the leader f the NO’, Elijah Muhammad, to preach and expand the movement of Black Nationalism.
Passionate and well-spoken, Malcolm was naturally gifted and an inspirational leader. He encouraged African Americans to break free of racism “by any means necessary,” including violence. Malcolm X preached, Mimi don’t have a peaceful revolution… You don’t have a turn-the-cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution” (Myers, 1993). Malcolm was truly a man of his childhood upbringing, the violence encouraged by Malcolm won him large numbers f followers as well as critics including the Reverend Martin Luther King Jar.
King once stated, “l feel that Malcolm has done himself and our people a great disservice” (MILK, 2014) Malcolm X was disillusioned to learn that his mentor and friend, Elijah Muhammad, violated many of his own teachings. It was discovered that Elijah was having secret relationships with as many as six women and had fathered several children. When Malcolm Joined the NON he had strictly adhered to the teachings of Muhammad, which included remaining celibate until marriage. Following this discovery, Malcolm feet the NON organization in 1964 Malcolm X undertook the Han, a traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 1964.
When he returned to the USA he was more optimistic of a peaceful revolution. “The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision… America is the first country… That can actually have a bloodless revolution” (Myers, 1993). Tragically, Just as he appeared to be embarking on a dramatically different course of constructive input within the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21st, 1965. The three men convicted of the assassination of Malcolm X were all members of the NON (Nation of Islam).