Black Nationalism Historical Icons-A RBG Tutorial Study Booklet 4Download


Published on

Black Nationalism Historical Icons-A RBG Tutorial Study Booklet 4Download

1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total Views
On Slideshare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Black Nationalism Historical Icons-A RBG Tutorial Study Booklet 4Download

  1. 1. CLICK FOR OVER 2,000 RBG STREET SCHOLAR LESSON ATTACHED IMAGES Document designed by RBG Street Scholar for sharing, study and downloadHOT LINK TOC Clarke, John Henrik (1915-1998) ........................................................................................................... 2 Cleage, Albert, Jr. (Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman) .................................................................................. 3 (1911-2000) .............................................................................................................................................. 3 Delany, Major Martin Robison (1812-1885) .......................................................................................... 4 Fard, Wallace (ca. 1891-1934) ................................................................................................................ 5 Hampton, Fred (1948-1969) ................................................................................................................... 7 Karenga, Maulana (c. 1943- ) ................................................................................................................. 8 Newton, Huey P. (1942–1989) ................................................................................................................ 9 Turner, Henry McNeal (1834-1915) ...................................................................................................... 11 Walker, David (1785-1830) ................................................................................................................... 13 X, Malcolm (1925-1965) ........................................................................................................................ 13 COMPANION TUTORIAL A Brief History of Black Nationalism and RBGs Current Academic Contributions FULL SIZE
  2. 2. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Clarke, John Henrik (1915-1998)John Henrik Clarke, historian, black nationalist andPan-Africanist, was a pioneer in the formation ofAfricana studies in the United States. Principally aself-trained historian, Clarke dedicated his life tocorrecting what he argued was the prevailing view thatpeople of Africa and of African decent had no historyworthy of study. Over the span of his career Clarkebecame one of the most respected historians ofAfrican and African American history.Clarke was born on New Year’s Day, 1915, in UnionSprings, Alabama. He described his father as a“brooding, landless sharecropper,” who struggled toearn enough money to purchase his own farm, and hismother as a domestic. Clarke’s mother Willie Ella(Mays) Clarke died in 1922, when he was about sevenyears old.In 1932 Clarke left the South at age eighteen and he traveled by boxcar to Chicago. Hethen migrated to New York City where he came under the tutelage of noted scholarArthur A. Schomburg. While in New York City’s Harlem, Clarke undertook the study ofAfrica, studying its history while working full time. In 1949 the New School for SocialResearch asked Clarke to teach courses in a newly created African Studies Center.Nineteen years later Clarke founded the African Heritage Studies Association in 1968,and was principally responsible for the creation of the Black and Puerto Rican StudiesDepartment at Hunter College in New York City. He later lectured at Cornell Universityas a distinguished visiting Professor of African history.Clarke numerous works include A New Approach to African History (1967), AfricanPeople in World History (1993), and The Boy Who Painted Jesus Black (1975). He diedin New York City in 1998.Sources: ; Page 2
  3. 3. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Cleage, Albert, Jr. (Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman)(1911-2000)Albert Cleage, jr., or JaramogiAbebe Agyeman, Black Nationalistand civil rights activist, was one ofthe most prominent black religiousleaders in America. Agyemenpreached a form of nationalismwithin the black community thatstressed economic self-sufficiencyand separation that relied on areligious awakening among blackpeople.Albert Cleage, Jr. was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 13, 1911. Cleagegraduated from Wayne State University in 1937, earning a B.A. in sociology, and a Divinity from Oberlin School of Theology in 1943. Cleage married Doris Graham andhad two daughters. Cleage and Graham later divorced in 1955. Cleage ran forgovernor of Michigan in 1962 under the Freedom Now Party, and was a candidate inthe Democratic primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan, 13th District, in 1966.Cleage later changed his name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman.His most recognized work was the Black Messiah (1968). In Messiah, Agyeman arguedthat Jesus was a black revolutionary who sought to lead a “Black Nation” to freedom.Agyeman believed the emergence of nationalist movements of the world’s coloredmajority would reveal the historic truth that Jesus was the “non-white leader of a non-white people struggling for national liberation against the rule of a white nation, Rome.”Agyeman understood the power of the church within the black community and thoughtthe re-orientation from a “white” Jesus to a “black” Jesus would be a necessary step inthe spiritual liberation of black America. Some believe the basis of Agyeman’s spiritualteachings was based on the theology rooted in Robert Young’s Ethiopian Manifesto(1829).In 1967 Agyeman unveiled the portrait of the Black Madonna. He went on to found andlead the Pan African Orthodox Church, which was part of the Black Christian NationalistMovement. This nationalist movement had 50,000 members nationwide. Back to Top Page 3
  4. 4. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Sources:“Albert Cleage,” in African American Encyclopedia, Michael Williams, ed., (New York:1989); “Albert Cleage,” in Encyclopedia of American Culture and History, Colin Palmer,ed., (New York: 2006);, Major Martin Robison (1812-1885)Martin Robison Delany was an African Americanabolitionist, the first African American Field Officer inthe U.S Army, and one of the earliest AfricanAmericans to encourage a return to Africa.Delany was born in Charleston, Virginia (now WestVirginia) to a slave father and a free mother.Delany’s mother took her children to Pennsylvaniain 1822 to avoid their enslavement and persecutionbrought on by attempting to teach her children toread and write, which was illegal in the state at thattime. In 1833 Martin Delany began an apprenticeship with a Pittsburgh physician andsoon opened a successful medical practice in cupping and leeching (it was notnecessary to be certified to practice medicine prior to 1850). In 1843 he beganpublishing a newspaper in Pittsburgh called The Mystery, Later Delany joined FrederickDouglass to produce and promote The North Star in Rochester, New York.Martin R. Delany entered Harvard Medical School in 1850 to finish his formal medicaleducation (along with two other black students) but was dismissed from the institutionafter only three weeks as a result of petitions to the school from white students. Twoyears later he published The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of theColored People of the United States, Politically Considered claiming that evenabolitionists would never accept blacks as equals and thus the solution to the blackcondition lay in the emigration of all African Americans back to Africa. In 1859 Delanyled an emigration commission to West Africa to explore possible sites for a new blacknation along the Niger River, “We are a nation within a nation, we must go from ouroppressors” he wrote.When the Civil War began in 1861 Delany returned to the United States. Jettisoning fora time his emigrationist views, Delany recruited thousands of men for the Union Army.In February 1865, after meeting with President Abraham Lincoln to persuade the Back to Top Page 4
  5. 5. RBG Blakademics September, 2010administration to create an all-black Corps led by African American officers, Delaneywas commissioned a Major in the 52nd U.S. Colored Troops Regiment. With thatappointment he became the first line officer in U.S. Army history.When Reconstruction began Delany was assigned to the Freedman’s Bureau in SouthCarolina. There he called for black pride, the enforcement of black civil rights and landfor the freedpeople. Delany became active in local Republican politics, losing a closeelection for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina but later serving briefly as a judge inCharleston, South Carolina. As the Republicans lost power in the state Delany renewedhis calls for emigration, becoming in 1878 an official in the Liberian Exodus Joint StockSteamship Company. He also wrote in 1879 The Principia of Ethnology, a book thatargued for race pride and purity.In 1880 Delany withdrew from the Liberian Exodus Company and moved first to Bostonand then to Wilberforce College in Xenia, Ohio. Martin R. Delany, considered my manyas the “father of black nationalism,” died in Xenia, Ohio on January 12, 1885.Sources:Victor Ullman, Martin R. Delany: The Beginnings of Black Nationalism (Boston: BeaconPress, 1971); Jim Haskins, Black Stars: African American Military Heroes (John Wileyand Sons, Inc., New York, NewYork, 1998);, Wallace (ca. 1891-1934)Wallace Fard, also known as W. Farad Muhammad, theProphet, was founder the first Temple of Islam whichevolved into the Nation of Islam or the Black Muslims.Authentic, documented information about Fard is veryscarce and there is only a four year period (1930-1934) inwhich dependable information exists.According to Fard (although there is no documentation toprove or disprove his account) he was born in Mecca towealthy parents in the tribe of Koreish, the tribe of theProphet Mohammad. According to FBI records Fard wasborn in 1891 in New Zealand. He arrived in the United States in 1913 and briefly settledin Portland, Oregon. Fard was arrested in California in 1918 for possession of alcohol(against the state law of prohibition) and again in 1926 for the possession of narcotics. Back to Top Page 5
  6. 6. RBG Blakademics September, 2010After spending time in San Quentin Prison in California, Fard was released and movedto Detroit.Fard’s exact arrival date in Detroit is unknown, but once he arrived he made a meagerliving peddling umbrellas and silks door-to-door in Detroit’s African American communitycalled “Paradise Valley.” At some point Fard began promoting a new faith he believedwould liberate Detroit blacks spiritually, psychologically and financially. He began topreach that Christianity was a false religion. He particularly denounced “white devils” asexploiters of the black race and called on his followers to join his Temple of Islam andreplace their last names with “X” in order to renounce their slave ancestry.During this period Detroit’s burgeoning African American population was ravaged by theGreat Depression. Fard’s teachings became popular solace for many in the AfricanAmerican community. Fard’s First Temple of Islam included the Fruit of Islam, a military-like organization of black male converts, a Muslim Girls’ Training Corps Class and aUniversity of Islam which, despite its name, was mainly focused on elementary andhigh-school level education.Fard disappeared in 1934. One of his disciples, Elijah Poole, who became theHonorable Elijah Muhammad, succeeded Fard and by World War II had built theTemple of Islam into a network of mosques across the United States.Sources:Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American NegroBiography (New York: W.W. Norton, 1982); Back to Top Page 6
  7. 7. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Hampton, Fred (1948-1969)Fred Hampton, deputy chairman of the Illinoischapter of the Black Panther Party, was born onAugust 30, 1948 and raised in the Chicagosuburb of Maywood, Illinois. In high school heexcelled in academics and athletics. AfterHampton graduated from high school, heenrolled in a prelaw program at Triton JuniorCollege in River Grove, Illinois. Hampton alsobecame involved in the civil rights movement,joining his local branch of the NationalAssociation for the Advancement of ColoredPeople (NAACP). His dynamic leadership andorganizational skills in the branch enabled himto rise to the position of Youth CouncilPresident. There Hampton mobilized a racially integrated group of five hundred youngpeople who successfully lobbied city officials to create better academic services andrecreational facilities for African American children.In 1968, Hampton joined the Black Panther Party (BPP), headquartered in Oakland,California. Using his NAACP experience, he soon headed the Chicago chapter. Duringhis brief BPP tenure, Hampton formed a “Rainbow Coalition” which included Studentsfor a Democratic Society, the Blackstone Rangers, a street gang and the NationalYoung Lords, a Puerto Rican organization. Hampton was also successful in negotiatinga gang truce on local television.In an effort to neutralize the Chicago BPP, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) andthe Chicago Police Department placed the chapter under heavy surveillance andconducted several harassment campaigns. In 1969, several BPP members and policeofficers were either injured or killed in shootouts and over one hundred local membersof the BPP were arrested.During an early morning police raid of the BPP headquarters at 2337 W. Monroe Streeton December 4, 1969, twelve officers opened fire, killing the 21 year old Hampton andPeoria, Illinois Panther leader Mark Clark. Police also seriously wounded four otherPanther members. Many in the Chicago African American community were outragedover the raid and what they saw as the unnecessary deaths of Hampton and Clark.Over 5,000 people attended Hampton’s funeral where Reverends Ralph Abernathy and Page 7
  8. 8. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Jesse Jackson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference eulogized the slainactivist. Years later, law enforcement officials admitted wrongdoing in the killing ofHampton and Clark. In 1990 and later in 2004 the Chicago City Council passedresolutions commemorating December 4 as Fred Hampton Day.Sources:Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting ‟Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power inAmerica (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006); Huey P. Newton, War against thePanthers: A Study of Repression in America (New York: Harlem River Press, 1996);John Kifner, “Police in Chicago Slay 2 Panthers,” New York Times, December 5, 1969;John Kifner, “Panthers Say an Autopsy Shows Party Official was Murdered,” New YorkTimes, December 7, 1969. Back to TopKarenga, Maulana (c. 1943- )Maulana Karenga, born in Salisbury, Maryland the early 1940s asRonald Everett. He moved to California in the late 1950s, attendedLos Angeles City College and went on to UCLA where he receiveda Masters degree in political science and African studies. In theearly 1960s, he met Malcolm X and embraced black nationalism.After the Watts Revolt in 1965 he changed his name to “Maulana”(master teacher) Karenga, interrupted his doctorate studies andformed a nationalist organization called "Us," which became a partof the Black Power movement. When the Black Panther Partybegan organizing in Los Angeles in 1966, the two organizationsbecame political rivals. That rivalry led to a bloody confrontation on the UCLA campus in1969 which resulted in the deaths of two Panthers, Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and JohnHiggins and the wounding of Us member Larry Stiner.Three years before that confrontation with the Panthers, Karenga created “Kwanzaa”(first fruit) to provide an opportunity for blacks to celebrate their positive connection withAfrica. The celebration’s central themes are cooperation and sharing the good in theworld. Many symbols are involved in the Kwanzaa celebration which lasts fromDecember 26 through January 1. On September 17, 1971, Karenga was sentenced toone to ten years in prison relating to assault charges against members of the Usorganization. After his release from prison, Karenga returned to his studies, receivedgraduate degrees and is currently a professor at Cal State-Long Beach and the Chair ofthe Black Studies Department. Page 8
  9. 9. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Sources:Scot Brown, Fighting for US: Maulana Karenga, the US Organization, and BlackCultural Nationalism (New York: New York University Press, 2003) Peniel E. Joseph,Waiting Til The Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (NewYork: Henry Holt and Company, 2006) Back to TopNewton, Huey P. (1942–1989)Born in Monroe, Louisiana, the youngest andseventh son, Newton was named after the populistgovernor Huey Long. His parents moved toOakland during World War II seeking economicopportunities. Newton attended Merritt College,where he met Bobby Seale. At Merritt, Newtonfought to diversify the curriculum and hire moreblack instructors. He also was exposed to a risingtide of Black Nationalism and briefly joined the Afro-American Association. Within this group and on hisown, he studied a broad range of thinkers, includingFrantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, E.Franklin Frazier, and James Baldwin.Newton eventually developed a Marxist Leninist perspective, where he viewed the blackcommunity as an internal colony controlled by external forces such as whitebusinessmen, the police, and city hall. He believed the black working class needed toseize the control of the institutions that most affected their community and formed theBlack Panther Party for Self Defense with Bobby Seale in October of 1966 to pursuethat goal.Newton became the Minister of Defense and main leader of the Party. Writing in theTen-Point Program, the founding document of the Party, Newton demanded that blacksneed the “power to determine the destiny of our Black Community.” That power wouldallow blacks to gain “land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.”Taking advantage of a California law that allowed people to carry non-concealedweapons, the Panthers instituted armed patrols that monitored police activity in theblack community. These patrols led to increasingly tense relations with the police and Page 9
  10. 10. RBG Blakademics September, 2010in October of 1967 Newton was arrested following a Panther-police shootout thatresulted in the death of an Oakland police officer. Considered a political prisoner bymany on the left, the Panthers orchestrated a Free Huey campaign led by the Party’sMinister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver. Charles R. Geary, a well-known attorney,headed Newton’s legal defense and in July of 1968 Newton was convicted of the lessercharge of voluntary manslaughter. That conviction was overturned on appeal and in1970 Newton was freed from prison.Newton’s leadership of the Black Panther Party in the early 1970s helped contribute toits demise. He led a number of purges of Party members, most famously in 1971 whenhe expelled Eldridge Cleaver in what was called the Newton-Cleaver split. In 1974Newton was accused of assaulting a prostitute who later died. Instead of standing trial,he fled to Cuba. He returned to the U.S. in 1976, stood trial, but was acquitted. In 1978he enrolled in the History of Consciousness program at the University of California,Santa Cruz where he earned his doctorate in 1980. His dissertation, “War Against thePanthers: A Study of Repression in America,” was later published as a book. In Augustof 1989, Newton was killed in Oakland, allegedly when purchasing drugs.Sources:Huey P. Newton, To Die For The People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton (New York,Random House, 1972); Newton, War against the Panthers: A Study of Repression inAmerica (New York: Harlem River Press, 1996); and Peniel E. Joseph, Waiting „til theMidnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Henry Holtand Co., 2006). Page 10
  11. 11. RBG Blakademics September, 2010 Turner, Henry McNeal (1834-1915) Black Nationalist, repatriationist and minister, Henry M. Turner was 31 years old at the time of the Emancipation. Turner was born in 1834 in Newberry Courthouse, South Carolina to free black parents Sarah Greer and Hardy Turner. The self-taught Turner by the age of fifteen worked as a janitor at a law firm in Abbeville, South Carolina. The firm’s lawyers noted his abilities and helped with his education. However, Turner was attracted to the church and after being converted during a Methodist religious revival, decided to become a minister. He joined the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and became a licensed minister in 1853 at the age of 19. Turner soon became an itinerant evangelist traveling as far as New Orleans. By 1856 he married Eliza Peacher, the daughter of a wealthy African American house builder in Columbia, South Carolina. The couple had fourteen children but only four of them survived into adulthood.In 1858 Turner entered Trinity College in Baltimore where he studied Latin, Greek,Hebrew and theology. Two years later he became the pastor of the Union BethelChurch in Washington, D.C. Turner cultivated friendships with important RepublicanCongressional figures including Ohio Congressman Benjamin Wade, PennsylvaniaCongressman Thaddeus Stevens, and Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner. Turnerhad already become a national figure when in 1863 at the age of 29 he was appointedby President Lincoln to the position of Chaplin in the Union Army. Turner was attachedto 1st Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, making him the first African American chaplain inthe history of the United States Army.After the Civil War Turner returned to Georgia and quickly became active inReconstruction-era politics. In 1867 he organized for the Republican Party in Georgiaand the following year was elected a delegate to the Georgia State ConstitutionalConvention. In the same year he was also elected to the Georgia State Legislature.Although 27 African Americans were elected to that body, a coalition of whiteDemocrats and Republicans declared the African American members disqualified andrefused to seat them. Back to Top Page 11
  12. 12. RBG Blakademics September, 2010President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Turner postmaster of Macon, Georgia. He wasforced to resign in a few weeks under pressure from local Democrats. The U.S.Congress intervened and allowed Turner to reclaim his legislative seat in 1870 but hewas not reelected in an election marred by fraud. Turner abandoned politics and movedto Savannah, Georgia where he served as pastor of St. Phillips AME Church. In 1876he was appointed President of Morris Brown College in Atlanta. Four years later he wasappointed a Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.Turner became the first AME Bishop to ordain a woman, Sarah Ann Hughes, to theoffice of deacon. He also wrote The Genius and Theory of Methodist Polity in 1885 as aguide to the policies and practices of the AME Church.By the late 1870s Turner became increasingly disillusioned with the inability of AfricanAmericans to achieve social justice in the United States. He proposed emigration backto African, an idea much discussed in the antebellum period but which all butdisappeared during the Civil War and Reconstruction. By 1880 Turner had become oneof the leading advocates of emigration, particularly to Liberia. He founded twonewspapers, The Voice of Missions (1893-1900) and the Voice of the People (1901-1904) to promote emigration. Between 1895 and 1896, Turner organized two shipvoyages to Liberia which carried over 500 emigrants to Liberia. Many of them returneddisillusioned and thus undermined Turner’s emigrationist work.Independently of his emigrationist efforts, Turner also promoted the AME Churchabroad. Between 1891 and 1898 he traveled to Africa four times to promote the churchin West and South Africa. He also sent AME missionaries to Cuba and Mexico.Although he never completely relinquished his emigrationist ideas and remained intouch with numerous African leaders, Turner increasingly devoted the remainder of hislife to church work. He died on May 8, 1915 in Windsor, Canada while traveling on AMEChurch business.Sources:Stephen Ward Angell, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and African American Religion inthe South (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992); Edwin S. Redkey, Black Page 12
  13. 13. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Exodus, Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements, 1890-1910 (New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 1969); The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, AfricanAmerican Desk Reference (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 1999); Kenneth Estall,ed., The African American Almanac 6th edition (Detroit: Gale Research, Inc. 1994).Walker, David (1785-1830)The fiery-militant David Walker was born on September 28,1785, in Wilmington, North Carolina. His father was anenslaved African who died a few months before his son’sbirth, and his mother was a free woman of African ancestry.Walker grew up to despise the system of slavery that theAmerican government allowed in America. He knew thecruelties of slavery were not for him and said, “As true asGod reigns, I will be avenged for the sorrow which mypeople have suffered.” He eventually moved to Bostonduring the 1820s and became very active within the freeblack community. Walker’s intense hatred for slaveryculminated in him publishing his Appeal to the ColoredCitizens of the World in September 1829. The Appeal wassmuggled into the southern states, and was considered subversive, seditious, andincendiary by most white men in both northern and southern states. It was, without adoubt, one of the most controversial documents published in the antebellum period.Walker was concerned about many social issues affecting free and enslaved Africans inAmerica during the time. He also expressed many beliefs that would becomecommonly promoted by later black nationalists such as: unified struggle for resistance ofoppression (slavery), land reparations, self-government for people of African descent inAmerica, racial pride, and a critique of American capitalism. His radical views promptedsouthern planters to offer a $3000 bounty for anyone who killed Walker and $10,000reward for anyone who returned him alive back to the South. Walker was mysteriouslyfound dead in the doorway of his Boston home in 1830, some people believed he waspoisoned and others believed that he died of tuberculosis.Sources:Thabiti Asukile, "The All-Embracing Black Nationalist Theories of David WalkersAppeal," Black Scholar, 29 (Winter 1999), 16–24. Back to Top Page 13
  14. 14. RBG Blakademics September, 2010 X, Malcolm (1925-1965) Malcolm X, one of the most influential African American leaders of the 20th Century, was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925 to Earl Little, a Georgia native and itinerant Baptist preacher, and Louise Norton Little who was born in the West Indian island of Grenada. Shortly after Malcolm was born the family moved to Lansing, Michigan. Earl Little joined Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) where he publicly advocated black nationalist beliefs, prompting the local white supremacist Black Legion to set fire to their home. Little was killed by a streetcar in 1931. Authorities ruled it a suicide but the family believed he was killed by white supremacists.Although an academically gifted student, Malcolm dropped out of high school after ateacher ridiculed his aspirations to become a lawyer. He then moved to Boston’sRoxbury district to live with an older half-sister, Ella Little Collins. Malcolm worked oddjobs in Boston and then moved to Harlem in 1943 where he drifted into a life of drugdealing, pimping, gambling and other forms of “hustling.” He avoided the draft in WorldWar II by declaring his intent to organize black soldiers to attack whites which led to hisclassification as “mentally disqualified for military service.”Malcolm was arrested for burglary in Boston in 1946 and received a ten year prisonsentence. There he joined the Nation of Islam (NOI). Upon his parole in 1952, Malcolmwas called to Chicago by NOI leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Like otherconverts, he changed his surname to “X,” symbolizing, he said, the rejection of “slavenames” and his inability to claim his ancestral African name.Recognizing his promise as a speaker and organizer for the Nation of Islam,Muhammad sent Malcolm to Boston to become the Minister of Temple Number Eleven.His proselytizing success earned a reassignment in 1954 to Temple Number Seven inHarlem. Although New York’s one million blacks comprised the largest African Americanurban population in the United States, Malcolm noted that “there werent enoughMuslims to fill a city bus. "Fishing" in Christian storefront churches and at competingblack nationalist meetings, Malcolm built up the membership of Temple Seven. He alsomet his future wife, Sister Betty X, a nursing student who joined the temple in 1956.They married and eventually had six daughters. Page 14
  15. 15. RBG Blakademics September, 2010Malcolm X quickly became a national public figure in July 1959 when CBS aired MikeWallace’s expose on the NOI, “The Hate That Hate Produced.” This documentaryrevealed the views of the NOI, of which Malcolm was the principal spokesperson andshowed those views to be in sharp contrast to those of most well-known AfricanAmerican leaders of the time. Soon, however, Malcolm was increasingly frustrated bythe NOI’s bureaucratic structure and refusal to participate in the Civil Rights Movement.His November 1963 speech in Detroit, “Message to the Grass Roots,” a bold attack onracism and a call for black unity, foreshadowed the split with his spiritual mentor, ElijahMuhammad. However, Malcolm on December 1, in response to a reporter’s questionabout the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, used the phrase "chickenscoming home to roost" which to Muslims meant that Allah was punishing white Americafor crimes against black people. Whatever the personal views of Muslims aboutKennedy’s death, Elijah Muhammad had given strict orders to his ministers not tocomment on the assassination. Malcolm defied the order and was suspended from theNOI for ninety days.Malcolm used the suspension to announce on March 8, 1964, his break with the NOIand his creation of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. Three months later he formed a strictlypolitical group (an action expressly banned by the NOI), called the Organization of AfroAmerican Unity.His dramatic political transformation was revealed when he spoke to the Militant LaborForum of the Socialist Worker’s Party. Malcolm placed the Black Revolution in thecontext of a worldwide anti-imperialist struggle taking place in Africa, Asia, and LatinAmerica, noting that “when I say black, I mean non-white—black, brown, red oryellow.” By April 1964, while speaking at a CORE rally in Cleveland, Ohio, Malcolmgave his famous “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech in which he described blackAmericans as “victims of democracy.”Malcolm traveled to Africa and the Middle East in late Spring 1964 and was receivedlike a visiting head of state in many countries. While there, Malcolm made his hajj toMecca and added El-Hajj to his official NOI name Malik El-Shabazz. The tour forcedMalcolm to realize that one’s political position as a revolutionary superseded “color.”The transformed Malcolm reiterated these views when he addressed an OAAU rally inNew York, declaring for a pan-African struggle “by any means necessary.” Malcolmspent six months in Africa in 1964 in an unsuccessful attempt to get internationalsupport for a United Nations investigation of human rights violations of Afro Americansin the United States. In February 1965, Malcolm flew to Paris to continue his efforts but Page 15
  16. 16. RBG Blakademics September, 2010 was denied entry amidst rumors that he was on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hit list. Upon his return to New York, his home was firebombed. Events continued to spiral downward and on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. Source: Robert L. Jenkins and Mafanya Donald Tryman, The Malcolm X Encyclopedia (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002); Eugene V. Wolfenstein, The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981); Karl Evanzz, The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X (New York: Thunder‟s Mouth Press, 1992); Malcolm X with Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Grove Press, 1965). Page 16 Back to Top