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By: Darwin Campbell

Minority Teens Reflect The Social Impact of Malcolm X on Young Lives in Modern Society

HOUSTON- The impact and influence of Malcolm X has been enormous since his death by assassins in 1965.

It spans decades and is embedded in the political hearts and social thinking of many African Americans and shapes relationship building in the community.

It also often determines how much African-Americans believe and trust a country and political system that continues to oppress them in many ways.

“Malcolm X was taught and raised by The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and he developed a very special magnetism when he was alive,” said renown Houston Journalist, Social and Civil Rights Activist Jesse Muhammad. “Now generations later and especially in the age of social media access, Malcolm X continues to have an impact on the minds and activism of young people who are hungering to feed from leaders who have true revolutionary spirit…I believe it is more important we keep alive the works he did and the life he lived as a discipline Muslim.”

Perhaps 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. “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression,” he stated. “Because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.”

Malcolm X was articulate, passionate and a naturally gifted and inspirational orator and exhorted blacks to cast off the shackles of racism “by any means necessary,” including not ruling out violence.

In a recent essay analysis, three young minority minds from across Houston’s broad ethnic and gender boundaries shared their thoughts about the man who helped reshape social thinking and rewrite the rules on political self determination and expression.

 

Victoria Basulto

Victoria Basulto 1st Place Winner in the High School (Senior) Category
Victoria Basulto 1st Place Winner in the High School (Senior) Category

For Basulto, the research on Malcolm X has made a positive impression on her life and redirected her thoughts on the image, body of work and life of the man.

“When writing my essay and doing my research, I came to the enlightening realization that to generalize any man’s legacy is to essentially leave out a large portion of their story. Malcolm X was not the foil character to a protagonist like Dr. Martin Luther King in an epic saga to liberate African Americans in the United States,” she said. “He was a man, like every other civil rights activist, whose tragic story led him to approach the liberation of his people in a different way.”

According to Basulto, when researching the life and works of Malcolm X, she came upon a startling discovery. In history class, we had often been taught that Malcolm X was a controversial figurehead of the civil rights movement. His goals were similar to that of other civil rights leaders like the famous Dr. Martin Luther King and other activist who promoted the end of racial oppression. However, although they advocated the use of non-violence, Malcolm X himself advocated the use of violence and terror. A concept that can be correlated to the infamous saying “fight fire with fire”.

In her assessment, Basulto added that by allowing our history books to generalize any man or woman’s legacy into a short, one sided synopsis of their impact on our country, we allow ourselves to forget important contributors in history and their struggles that inevitably formed a part of them.

“This experience in my life has taught me to look at people, both good and bad, old and young, rich and poor; and allow myself to see past their exterior and into their true character. It has taught me that society often times brands people on the basis of irrelevant characteristics in its hurry to keep pace with progress. But, often times leaves out large portions of their story, and therefore, who they really are,” she said. “I now know that to create a more inclusive society, like the one Malcolm X sought to achieve at the end of his lifetime, we must look beyond the summary of people’s story but between the lines to the fine print we may never have gotten to read.”

In her essay she was clear to share thoughts and insights about the what she learned during her research.

When we begin to classify, divide and group we sow the seeds of inequality, hate and discrimination. The hustlers did not know better than to believe there was an invisible line with a clearly recognizable enemy on the other side. There was a “Black America”, caught in an endless struggle to free itself from the hands of oppression, and then there was a “White America”, the hands doing the oppressing. There was no in between, exception or conformity. It was as simple as good vs. bad. The timeless struggle of the yin and yang of darkness and light. But that is not the way the world works, it is this I believe Malcolm X began to realize at the end of his life. The enemy is sly and cunning, it lives and breathes within our society, but, it has no recognizable face. This was the message of the civil rights movement, for White men’s blood was spilled equally like that of African Americans, that freedom and equality is achieved only through the collective spirit of society to move forward and progress towards a seemingly unachievable perfection. If we seek to correct the ills of society we must do it together. As America we must confront the future, together, not as White and Black America, but as The United above all creed, race and religion, States of America. As Barack Obama said in his 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America”.

            There are many ways we can overcome the issues facing America. Both Malcolm X, and his seemingly foil persona, Dr. Martin Luther King, were striving towards a more equal and just society. They took two different paths in life and in the end, their roads converged at the commonality of their agendas. We can begin to live their legacies by continuing to strive towards this goal no matter how close or far we seem to be. But we should never be like the hustlers who foolishly believed racism was a recognizable feature that could be seen in the skin. Let us allow ourselves to be influenced by ideas, but never transformed past recognition by them. The road of progress and long and treacherous, we have no time to spend going in circles with hearts full of hate, only time to move ahead with hearts of love and hope.

Victoria Basulto’s Essay: In his introduction to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, M.S Handler said that  he could attribute Malcolm X’s success and popularity to one key factor,“ It always seemed to me that their affection for Malcolm was inspired by the fact that although he had become a national figure, he was still a man of the people who, they felt, would never betray them. The black man had suffered too long for betrayals and in Malcolm they sensed a man on a mission”.

By the end of the 1960’s the list of crimes committed against the African-American community had reached a tipping point. The death of Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and an endless list of martyrs had left the community shaken and doubtful in the wake of a decisive moment in history. It is not hard to understand then, why the sentiments of the African American community could quickly turn to violence and anger. In the wake of the death of Dr. King, race riots broke out across major cities as the need for vengeance overwhelmed the hearts of those seething for justice. In their eyes, the racist radicals of the quote on quote “White America” had taken away from them, not only their rights, but their hope as well. Their hope that manifested itself through the charisma and power of their civil rights leaders. Most affected by these sentiments were the “hustlers”, especially the young ones, whose only hope was embodied in idol leaders like Malcolm X, who they believed would never turn their backs on them.

Therefore, with the terrifyingly empowering words of Malcolm X, words like “White America”, “White Devil”, and “root of all evil” the African American community began to lose its patience with the ideas of a peaceful revolution; slowly convinced that there was a solution to their problems, a violent one. The hustlers more than all, I believe, came to accept this ideology. If they too suffered the agonies faced by Malcolm X in his still childhood years (and it is very probable that they did), then they had more reason than most to believe revenge was possible. Before he even reached his teens, Malcolm X had already experienced several deaths in his family. The murder of his father by a racist radical group and that of his uncles whom, all but one, also met their demise at the hands of terrorist groups. Not only this but he suffered as a child with more than just death. The burning of his house caused by arson in his infancy and the economic hardships he faced as a cause of his father’s death. These depraved circumstances would later lead him to the hustler life. The overwhelming capacity to connect with the hustlers  was seen in very few leaders; this intimate connection with the lowest class of society not through understand but through experience was crucial to the way hustlers would see America. It wasn’t enough to hear the words “ I understand the situation you are in” but rather the words Malcolm X had the right to utter, “I know the situation you are in, i’ve been there”.  Malcolm X, after all, was once one of them, and if he could achieve success by standing up to “White America”, then so could they.

When we begin to classify, divide and group we sow the seeds of inequality, hate and discrimination. The hustlers did not know better than to believe there was an invisible line with a clearly recognizable enemy on the other side. There was a “Black America”, caught in an endless struggle to free itself from the hands of oppression, and then there was a “White America”, the hands doing the oppressing. There was no inbetween, exception or conformity. It was as simple as good vs. bad. The timeless struggle of the yin and yang of darkness and light. But that is not the way the world works, it is this I believe Malcolm X began to realize at the end of his life. The enemy is sly and cunning, it lives and breathes within our society, but, it has no recognizable face. This was the message of the civil rights movement, for White men’s blood was spilled equally like that of African Americans, that freedom and equality is achieved only through the collective spirit of society to move forward and progress towards a seemingly unachievable perfection. If we seek to correct the ills of society we must do it together. As America we must confront the future, together, not as White and Black America, but as The United above all creed, race and religion, States of America. As Barack Obama said in his 2004 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America”.

            There are many ways we can overcome the issues facing America. Both Malcolm X, and his seemingly foil persona, Dr. Martin Luther King, were striving towards a more equal and just society. They took two different paths in life and in the end, their roads converged at the commonality of their agendas. We can begin to live their legacies by continuing to strive towards this goal no matter how close or far we seem to be. But we should never be like the hustlers who foolishly believed racism was a recognizable feature that could be seen in the skin. Let us allow ourselves to be influenced by ideas, but never transformed past recognition by them. The road of progress and long and treacherous, we have no time to spend going in circles with hearts full of hate, only time to move ahead with hearts of love and hope.

Patrick Carter

Patrick Carter 1st Place Winner in the Middle School catergory
Patrick Carter 1st Place Winner in the Middle School catergory

As a teen, Carter said he is moved by the stories in the news that show the disrespect for the younger generations opinions and demonstrates the need for young people to be informed and involved  and ensure a voice in the political process.

“In my research on Malcolm X, I learned that people want to be heard and will do anything to be heard. Malcolm X helped open the way for the kind of protests for social, religious and racial rights  before his untimely death,” he said. “His example helped lead and aid the cause and define the true fight for racial and religious equality.”

Studying Malcolm X changed me in such a way that I think about the community. It definitely enables me to see the different sides of racial and social America.

“Things have come to a point where some respect people on one hand for religion and color or skin in a civilized manner, while on the other hand, the politics (in America) has created an environment where some people detest and hate others even more. Some (racial and ethic) communities are better and others have been persecuted and treated poorly.”

According to Carter, it is a mixed blessing, because of Malcolm X, in some ways we are better charged, enlightened and educated on issues and problems, but worse off because we appear to be further from finding answers and solving them.

In his essay, Carter uses current social challenges to demonstrate his thoughts that there is still much work to do in America.

 

At one point, Malcolm X even echoed the 25th chapter of Matthew in the Bible, “what you do for these-the prisoner, the poor, the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, the motherless, the weak, the vulnerable the-has lasting value”. He most likely quoted this scripture to stir up African-Americans and Muslims into rising up against those who persecuted them. This verse addressed an idea which ‘scared America’ society ignoring how to help and to support for Blacks.

Even now, Malcolm X inspires others to speak out against injustice. For example, the recent news about United Airlines aggressive passenger removal, changes in the United States laws over immigration, and numerous police officers violence against innocent citizens. There are countless events that society will gain power from Malcolm X (voice for rights). Over all, Malcolm X left quite a scare on American history, but towards a greater cause in the ongoing fight against religious persecution and racism.

Patrick Carter II’s Essay: Even after death, Malcolm X, he caused a scare on America. People said he was the personification of ‘jazz in motion’, with his harmonious shifts between funny and lyrical to being serious and aggressive. His speeches were out spoken towards whites’ injustice to blacks. Malcolm X had all the outstanding skills of a public speaker. He believed in the cause to protect and defend what is yours.

            Before his untimely death on February 21st, 1965 in New York City, Malcolm X was attempting to form a mosque as their Muslim leader. Muslims were people searching for a way to make Islam a type of democracy. His assassination ruined any chance of this happening. Many in the mosque saw him as the perfect model of a revolutionary Muslim, like how Martin Luther King Jr. became a revolutionary Christian.  The idea of changes addressed the way of life for Blacks ‘scared America’ towards not wanting any changes in society.

            Now some people portrayed Malcolm X as a fraud simply because he was Muslim, but he invoked Hebrew prophets such as, Isaiah, Amos and Jesus himself. At one point, Malcolm X even echoed the 25th chapter of Matthew in the Bible, “what you do for these-the prisoner, the poor, the stranger, the widow, the fatherless, the motherless, the weak, the vulnerable the-has lasting value”. He most likely quoted this scripture to stir up African-Americans and Muslims into rising up against those who persecuted them. This verse addressed an idea which ‘scared America’ society ignoring how to help and to support for Blacks.

            Even now, Malcolm X inspires others to speak out against injustice. For example, the recent news about United Airlines aggressive passenger removal, changes in the United States laws over immigration, and numerous police officers violence against innocent citizens. There are countless events that society will gain power from Malcolm X (voice for rights). Over all, Malcolm X left quite a scare on American history, but towards a greater cause in the ongoing fight against religious persecution and racism.

Work Cited

www.smithsonianmag.com

 

Kayla Francis

Kayla Francis 2nd Place Winner in the High School (Senior) Category
Kayla Francis 2nd Place Winner in the High School (Senior) Category

Many historians believe that after his epiphany at Mecca, Malcolm X returned to the United States less angry and more optimistic about the prospects for peaceful resolution to America’s race problems. “The true brotherhood I had seen had influenced me to recognize that anger can blind human vision,” he said. “America is the first country … that can actually have a bloodless revolution.”

However, he was killed before that chapter of his life could ever be written.

According to Francis, controversy between Black and White America has been going on as long as historical record.

“A constant back and forth, one encounter after another, has created a huge emotional tension between us as a species,” she said. “ Many have stood up for their belief and plenty of them stand out and have gone father than others…Malcolm X stood for what he believed and never looked back…This created a very tense and angry filled relationship between the two (White America and Black America).”

The impact of Malcolm X’s  words have come to life with Kayla Francis, who said she has learned that there indeed are alternatives to hatred and violence.

“It really opened my eyes to things that still go on today and showed me patience and how violence isn’t always needed to get your point across,” she said. “It changed how I go about situations and to actually think before I act.”

She also added that it has given her pause to be more understanding, tolerant and patient about each individual’s race, background and ethnicity.

“It taught me that everyone isn’t raised the same, so I won’t always have the same view or opinion on things as everyone I meet.

She also pointed out it helped her understand the meaning of self determination, perseverance and maintaining strong goals and a positive self esteem.

“As corny as it may be, it taught me I can really be whatever I want to be despite what society think it has planned for me,” she said. “If I really focus and put time and effort into It I can be whatever I want to be.”

In her essay, she revealed a personal insight about the powerful impact of Malcolm X.

Malcolm X gave African-Americans something nobody else ever had – a feeling that a race of people have the privilege to feel outrage and express the energy of it, to test white mastery, and to effectively request change… Malcolm X enlightened everybody who might listen concerning the tireless and unavoidable restrictions that the era of prejudice had forced on American Blacks. His knowledge and lowliness was the end goal that he was not hesitant to update his thoughts, and he held up the case for change for all to see and gain from.

Kayla Francis’ Essay: Before his death, Malcolm X stated that his organizations were willing to work with other black organizations and with progressive white groups in the United States on voter registration, on black control of community public institutions such as schools and the police, and on other civil and political rights for black people.

Muhammad leaves some telling thoughts for Blacks trying to find their way in a world that still does not accept African American contributions to the building of America.

His influence continues and must live on from generation to generation to maintain that powerful flame of freedom and independence that Black people yearn for.

“Young people should get to know the man who produced Malcolm X, the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad,” Jesse Muhammad said. “If they would feed from his books and teachings like Brother Malcolm did, then they too would grow to manifest their greatness and be powerful servants of the people and not buy into the recycled lie that the Hon, Minister Louis Farrakhan has something to do with Brother Malcolm’s death… listen for themselves and that will surely carry the revolution to the next level.”

Controversy between black america and white america has been going on for as long as we can remember. A constant back and forth, on encounter after another, has created a huge emotional tension between us as a species. Many have stood up for their belief and plenty of them stand out and have gone farther than others. For example, Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, stood for what he believed in and never looked back. His encounters with white america has been plentiful and played a vital role in how he went about life. This created a very tense and angry filled relationship between the two.

Malcolm originated from the humblest roots, was the most radical, most candid, and angriest—”All Negroes are furious, and I am the angriest of all,” he frequently would state. The effective speaker accumulated enormous group around him when he was related with Elijah Muhammad’s Lost-Found Nation of Islam development, and a while later with Malcolm X’s own particular association. Numerous Americans, white and dark, feared the savage side of Malcolm X’s talk—not at all like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, principle of peaceful resistance, Malcolm X trusted in self-protection.

    Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, was very political and spoke for what he believed in which caused a lot of trouble in his neighborhood. Because of Earl Little’s social liberties activism, the family was subjected to successive provocation from racial oppressor bunches including the Ku Klux Klan and one of its fragment groups, the Black Legion. Truth be told, Malcolm X had his initially experience with bigotry before he was even conceived. Malcolm’s mother was threatened by Klansmen due to Earl “spreading trouble”. This caused them to be forced to move. His housed later was burned down in 1929, luckily everyone escaped but it was believed to be retaliation from white america against his beliefs. Soon after, Earl Little, was killed by a “accidental” car incident where he was hit. There is much controversy over this in which many believe he was killed by Black Legion due to previous encounters with the group. Malcolm’s response was, “ How could my father bash himself in the head, Then get down across the street car tracks to be ran over?” As for his mother, She was deemed mentally unstable in which she was taken to a mental hospital which in return Malcolm was tossed from one foster home to the next. Malcolm was placed with many different families in which he began exploring into the negativity of black america. This was a turning point for Malcolm in which he felt angry towards white america and how poorly his kind was treated.

    Another encounter was when young Malcolm was in the eighth grade. He was very smart and top of his majority white class. One day, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up Malcolm replied, “I want to be a lawyer.” and in return his teacher stated, “No realistic goal for a nigger.” in which he implied that Malcolm must think more realistic for he had no place in white america as a lawyer. Malcolm backlashed by dropping out of school and he began becoming “more of his kind”. In late 1945, He began stealing and getting involved in drugs, where he was robbing wealthy, white families. An incident, where he called himself going to the pawn shop to get the stolen watch fixed, the cops were called because the watch was “too expensive” to be Malcolm’s. Malcolm was then in Jail in which he began to work on himself. He turned his anger into words and his tension into actions.

Indeed, even as he fortified his ties with social liberties activists, be that as it may, Malcolm gained numerous new foes. The U.S. government considered him to be a subversive, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation started endeavors to undermine his impact. Furthermore, some of his previous Nation of Islam partners, including Louis X (later Louis Farrakhan), censured him as a deceiver for freely reprimanding Elijah Muhammad. The Nation of Islam endeavored to remove him from the home he involved in Queens, New York. On 14 February 1965 Malcolm’s house was firebombed; despite the fact that he and his family got away unharmed, the culprits were never captured.   

Malcolm X gave African-Americans something nobody else ever had—a feeling that the race has a privilege to feel outrage and express the energy of it, to test white mastery, and to effectively request change. Politically advanced, Malcolm X enlightened everybody who might listen concerning the tireless and unavoidable restrictions that era of prejudice had forced on American blacks. His knowledge and lowliness was with the end goal that he was not hesitant to update his thoughts, and he held up the case of his changes for all to see and gain from.

Partners and Sponsors for this initiative presented by African-American News&Issues includes Shirley Ann’s Kollectibles & Flowers, Green Technology Specialists and Sam’s Club #8245 – Houston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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