-------Original Message-------
 
From: Kenny H
Date: 02/22/05 01:42:45
To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Subject: [Supercalifragilistic] Malcolm X remembered...Assassinated Feb 21
1965
 

Preserving the legacy of Malcolm X
Sunday, February 20, 2005 Posted: 8:49 PM EST (0149 GMT) 

NEW YORK (AP) -- He was one of the most charismatic figures in the civil
rights movement and also one of its most feared, a former convict who
abandoned his "slavemaster name," energized the Nation of Islam and met a
violent end at 39.

Four decades after his death, Malcolm X has inspired another movement -- one
aimed at re-examining and preserving his legacy.

Leading the way are Malcolm X's daughters, who want to convince people he
was a champion of human rights and are converting the Audubon Ballroom in
upper Manhattan -- the scene of his assassination on February 21, 1965 --
into a history center that would catalogue his life and work.

"It's our responsibility to make sure that we do preserve and document our
history to empower future generations," said Ilyasah Shabazz, the third of
six daughters born to Malcolm X and wife Betty Shabazz.

On Monday, the Audubon will be the site of a commemorative event on the
anniversary of Malcolm X's death. The official opening of the Malcolm X and
Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center at the Audubon is slated for
May 19, on what would have been his 80th birthday.

His life has defied easy definition.

The son of a preacher who was killed after being threatened by the Ku Klux
Klan, Malcolm Little was arrested for robbery in 1946 and spent six years in
prison. He emerged as a fiery Nation of Islam minister with a new name and a
message that blacks should cast off white oppression "by any means necessary
"

He propelled the Nation of Islam from a 500-member sect into a political and
religious organization with 30,000 members by 1963. His messages of black
empowerment and self-sufficiency made him an icon to blacks and others
around the world.

In 1964, he split from the Nation of Islam, and after an Islamic pilgrimage
to Mecca where he worshipped alongside Muslims of all colors, he renounced
racial separatism. 

His new direction angered some Black Muslims -- and led to his murder during
a speech at the Audubon Ballroom.

The ballroom's new center will house a multimedia environment containing
documents about Malcolm X's life, including memoirs, notes, speeches and
other personal items rescued by his family and now held by the Schomburg
Center for Research in Black Culture.

"There has been a lot of paraphrasing. Now there will be a lot of clarity,"
said another daughter, Malaak Shabazz, who hadn't been born yet when Malcolm
X was slain. "This collection really is going to enlighten a lot of people."

In his autobiography, Malcolm X said the media, the government, and even
other black leaders characterized him as a demagogue. But his family said
the presentations will dispel that portrayal.

At the time, said Malaak Shabazz, "there weren't that many people of color
at the forefront, speaking not just for black and white issues but human
rights issues. But before he was assassinated he was going to speak at the
United Nations to speak on the human rights issues that faced indigenous
people and people of color."

The collection will also reveal a different side of Malcolm X, his family
said.

"Looking at these letters, the vulnerabilities, the determination, the
commitment and the humanity was really touching," said Ilyasah. "You get to
see that he was a young man, he was a father, a husband, he was someone's
child."

Setting the record straight
Other projects also are aimed at setting the record straight on Malcolm X.

Manning Marable, a professor of history and political science at Columbia
University, is working on a biography he says will dispel errors in other
literature.

"Many of the books that document Malcolm have major inaccuracies," said
Marable. "Many are poorly edited and don't encompass the entirety of his
speeches."

Next year, Percy Sutton, Malcolm X's personal lawyer who later served as
Manhattan borough president, is launching his own project, the Malcolm X and
Dr. Betty Shabazz Living History Foundation. Its purpose, Sutton said, will
be "for people to learn about Minister Malcolm and Dr. Shabazz and what
their contributions were."

The family welcomes renewed interest in Malcolm X.

"They say that our father changed, that there was this transformation," said
Ilyasah Shabazz. "I don't think it was a transformation -- he evolved."



Malcolm remembered

We still ponder what he did and what he might yet have achieved. 

Sun reporter Michael Hill on the legacy of Malcolm X 

It has been 40 years since gunmen killed Malcolm X as he was about to
address supporters in a Harlem ballroom.

His assassination on Feb. 21, 1965 - just before his 40th birthday -
was part of a season of violence that sent many national leaders and
civil rights workers to early graves, and also a murder with a
peculiar set of circumstances.

When he died, few knew much about Malcolm beyond the fact that he
could deliver a speech and stir up controversy.

Malcolm would become more important in death than he was during his
life, both as a commodified pop culture symbol of defiance - the black
counterpart to Che Guevara - and as someone who saw the limitations of
the civil rights movement and called for an approach that would demand
more fundamental changes.

For most on both sides of the racial divide, Malcolm was, in life, a
symbol - of identity and pride, of violence and hatred. Whatever the
vision, an early death by gunfire seemed poignant and fitting - either
the inevitable silencing of a threatening voice, or just desserts.

In fact, it was neither. Malcolm was killed because he dared to defy
Elijah Muhammad, who ran the Nation of Islam as a cross between a
Mafia-style gang and a despotic Third World country.

But that violent death is an inseparable part of the image that lives
on - the staid glasses, the piercing eyes, the strong words "By any
means necessary."

Malcolm's time on the national stage was short. A 1959 CBS
documentary, The Hate that Hate Produced, with Mike Wallace,
introduced Malcolm and the Black Muslim movement to a wider audience.

But it was only in the last two years of his life - much of which he
spent overseas - that he captured the spotlight. What is amazing is
that, four decades later, we are still talking about what happened in
that brief moment.

"When you get talking to students about what people actually did, they
always want Malcolm X to have done more than he did," says Renee
Romano, a historian at Wesleyan University. "He was really a master
rhetorician, an incredible orator. Had he lived longer, who knows what
he would have done?"

The Malcolm who died was very much a work in progress, just beginning
to learn how to use his spiritual underpinnings, his political
insights and his powerful charisma to reach his goals.

"He was a man in transition as the times were in transition," says
Ronald Walters, director of the African-American Leadership Institute
at the University of Maryland. "The bottom line on Malcolm X's legacy
was that he was representative of something black people needed - an
uncompromising, unflinching look at where we were in American
society."

"Many people now see Malcolm X as much more prophetic than he was
given credit for," says James Turner, founder of the Africana Studies
and Research Center at Cornell University. "He said integration alone
was insufficient, that it would run into its limitations and not be
able to deliver us full equality."

Turner and others note that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. realized
this in the three years he lived after Malcolm's assassination.

Floyd Hayes of the Center for Africana Studies at the Johns Hopkins
University, says that Malcolm was his model when Hayes led a black
power movement as a graduate student at UCLA in 1968.

"For me, Malcolm was central, in terms of being a leader, being
outspoken and assertive," Hayes says. "What was important for my
generation was his self-assertiveness, his self-determination, the
ability to stand up before anyone and not be afraid."

Though Malcolm is viewed as one of the most important African-American
leaders that the country has produced, that was not the case 40 years
ago.

"Polls showed that he was a relatively minor figure," says Taylor
Branch, who is at work on the third volume of his biography of King.
"His approval numbers in Jet magazine were down near the single
digits. Roy Wilkens would be up there with 60 percent, King with 80 or
90, and Malcolm had 11."

He was perhaps best known as a black bogeyman, the evil side of the
revolution that was sweeping the country.

"Malcolm would only pop up on the white radar screen when he would say
something that would scare them," Branch says. "I don't think people
knew very much about what was going on in his life."

Malcolm paid his only visit to the established civil rights movement a
few weeks before his death, going to Selma, Ala., where a voting
rights campaign was under way. King was in jail and, Branch says,
Malcolm's sudden appearance caused turmoil among King's compatriots,
who reluctantly let Malcolm address a rally in a church.

"What drove Malcolm down to Selma was that he realized he had been all
talk" and no action, says Branch. It was in part Elijah Mohammed's
orders to remain apolitical that drove Malcolm to leave the Nation of
Islam.

During that visit, Malcolm told Coretta Scott King that he thought the
fear he stirred up among whites helped her husband achieve his goals.

"There is something called the radical flank effect," says Christian
Davenport, a political scientist who directs the Radical Information
Project at the University of Maryland. "By having an extremely
militant radical organization in the public domain and having a social
movement making similar claims and similar efforts, the radicals make
the reformers look better, with a higher likelihood that they will
achieve their goals. Malcolm was playing that role to the civil rights
movement."

It was the posthumous publication of his autobiography that insured
Malcolm would live on. Skillfully written by Alex Haley, who would go
on to write Roots, The Autobiography of Malcolm X - the basis for
Spike Lee's 1992 biographical movie - told a story that captivated
audiences of all races and many nations.

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in 1925 in Omaha, Neb., to parents
who were followers of black nationalist Marcus Garvey. After his
father's death and his mother's breakdown, Malcolm ended up in Boston,
taking drugs and involved in petty crimes.

Imprisoned at 21, he began to read the teachings of Elijah Muhammad
and became a serious scholar. Shedding his last name and substituting
the X - something many of his followers did - asserted that the
Christian name given to his slave forebears did not represent his
black history.

"Black identity needed rehabilitation," says Walters. "He was the one
who first made people ask the questions of who they were. You don't
have an African name, that's why this X is here.

"He pulled away these scabs and made people look at their identity,"
he says. "The rehabilitation process, from Negro to blackness, had a
long-range impact on black people, probably more than anything else in
the movement."

Released in 1952, Malcolm rose in the Nation of Islam and became its
most prominent spokesman, drawing so much attention that Elijah
Mohammed grew jealous.

Though Elijah held that white people were "devils," he forbade
political activity among his followers and issued an edict of silence
when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Malcolm defied this,
making a speech in which he said the president's killing was a case of
"the chickens coming home to roost," saying that a society based on
violence should not be surprised when violence was visited upon it.

Elijah ordered Malcolm silenced, but he continued his defiance,
drawing large crowds. Afraid for his life, he was on the run for the
remaining 14 months that he had to live, giving his most famous and
remembered speeches. During this time, he denounced Elijah, in part
because of his many illegitimate children fathered with secretaries.

Part of Malcolm's flight was a hajj to Mecca, where he says he saw the
potential of Islam to unify people of all races. Malcolm returned
still committed to black nationalism - and more committed to a
pan-African vision after visiting that continent - but willing to work
with white groups.

"I think people are fascinated by the trajectory of his thought and
activities," says Davenport, "moving from a very strident race hater
to a staunch black nationalist to a more universal advocate of human
rights."

In Pillar of Fire, the second volume of his three-part work on King,
Branch wrote the most extensive account of Malcolm's last desperate
months and the
palace warfare within the Nation of Islam that killed
him. Malcolm went so far as to go to Chicago and offer to testify that
the Nation of Islam was not a genuine religion, backing prison
officials who were trying to deny Nation of Islam literature to an
inmate.

"He offered to give them what they wanted if they would protect him,"
Branch says. "He was that desperate."

For Branch, the battle with Elijah Mohammed - missing from the
autobiography, and thus from the story most tell of Malcolm today -
will be Malcolm's most lasting legacy.

In breaking with Elijah Mohammed, Branch notes, he paved the way for
Elijah's son Wallace to steer the movement toward orthodox Islam when
Elijah died in 1975.

"If Malcolm and Wallace had not had this impact, if they had kept the
sectarian view - that white people are devils and that death is
nothing if it helps to establish Islam - if they had not made it more
orthodox, a religion of peace among its black and immigrant adherents,
then you could have 3 million suicide bombers in this country," Branch
says.

"My greatest sadness," Branch notes, "is that we don't really know how
much he could have done if had kept going. He had a truly amazing
mind."


-- 
Zip a dee doo dah Zip a dee hey..My Oh My what a wonderful day.



A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.
 
 
Alex M.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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