May 15, 2014
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech is among the most celebrated in the nation’s history, but as we celebrate the birthdate of Malcolm X, we should also know that Malcolm too had a dream. He had a dream of justice and self-determination for his people that was free of violence, with ideals and principles.
He dreamed of equal access to education, tolerance, and consensus building, and above all, fairness and impartiality.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1964 he changed his name to Al Hajj Malik El Shabazz, to signify his rejection of his “slave” name after he visited the Holy City of Mecca.
Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm had different opinions on integration and segregation, they initially struggled for the same objective. That goal was peace, freedom and equal rights, particularly and specifically for black and other oppressed people.
During the 60’s, Martin Luther King Jr's approach using non-violence attracted more people to the civil rights movement because Malcolm incorporated the richness of black history and culture, while completely rejecting white society and their subjugation and brutality.
Martin Luther King and Malcolm X existed at the same time and perfectly symbolized, respectively, the arguments for peaceful resistance and violent struggle as means for political change. King had urged his followers to bestow Christian love on white racists who abused them. Malcolm memorably asserted that blacks should seek any means necessary to achieve justice. At one time in history this was a part of Malcolm’s dream.
Arthur Lewin of BlackStudies.net simplified their differences when he wrote “In truth, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Minister Malcolm X were not that different. They were fellow travelers on the same road, the one headed toward fulfillment of the Dream America holds for all that she’s the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.”
Dr. Kenneth R. Conklin reminds us that in the 1960s black people began saying "I'm black, and proud of it." But that pride was more an aspiration than a reality. To create a sense of separate identity and pride, black people began adopting African cultural customs, Muslim religion, and newly-created holidays celebrating their African heritage. The Nation of Islam religious group under inspiration from Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad began to demand the creation of a racially separatist independent Nation of New Africa. But with increasing affluence and equality, most black people followed the path of Martin Luther King toward full integration, and began calling themselves African-Americans.
Malcolm had many dreams as reflected in many of his quotes. He said ‘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. I have always kept an open mind, a flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of the intelligent search for truth.’
Malcolm did not trust the press. He said ‘The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses’. He told us that ‘power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action’. And let us not forget some of his more profound words ‘If you're not ready to die for it, put the word 'freedom' out of your vocabulary. If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything’.
Yes, Minister Malcom had dreams. He had many dreams. He knew that people of color must unite with a single purpose to attain freedom and peace, so he sought wisdom and knowledge through dreams, visions, fasting, and prayer. Very few individuals are able to make such a significant contribution to their communities that they can claim much credit for its power and glory. Al Hajj Malik El Shabazz did.
Happy Birthday Brother Malcolm. Happy Birthday and may your legacy live on.
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