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May 19, 1925 to February 21, 1965
Who is Malcolm X
Who is Malcolm X and why did the Malcolm X assassination take place are legitimate questions examined in this article. These questions are asked by many young people curious about the history of the African American freedom struggle.
February 21st, 2015, marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Malcolm X assassination. Had he lived, Malcolm X would have turned 90 years old on May 19 2015. To focus on this occasion, Black Politics featured this first-hand account of who is Malcolm X, his significance, and the events leading up to the Malcolm X assassination from a man whom the notorious former head of the FBI, J Edgar Hoover, in 1967, called, “the most dangerous man in America”. Dr. Muhammad Ahmad, formerly known as Max Stanford, was the founder and national field chairman of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a clandestine organization whose international spokesman was Malcolm X. Stanford is uniquely qualified to educate us on Who is Malcolm X and the Malcolm X assassination impact.
Stanford was very close to Malcolm in the final years of his life and held close one on one meetings with Malcolm in the months leading up to the February 21st, 1965, Malcolm X assassination at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom.
Stanford was a keynote speaker at the Audubon Ballroom on February 21st, 1978, thirteen years after the Malcolm X assassination. This event, organized by the African People’s Party (APP) and the Provisional Government for the Republic of New Africa (RNA), marked the first time since the assassination of Malcolm X that the Black liberation Movement returned to the Audubon Ballroom to honor its fallen leader.
In this excerpt from his writings, Dr. Ahmad details Malcolm’s role in the African American Liberation struggle, his transformation from the national spokesman of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam to an internationally known and respected leader of the African American struggle.
As a key Malcolm X insider, Muhammad Ahmad outlines some of the important Malcolm X assassination facts as they unfolded. He tells us about the US government’s covert activities against Malcolm, the Malcolm X assassination set-up, and the reasons why Malcolm was killed. He summarizes the Malcolm X assassination impact as he explores both the lessons learned from Malcolm’s leadership and from his assassination.
Through his work in the Black Liberation Movement and his writings, Muhammad Ahmad offers historical continuity and clear guidance on the question of who is Malcolm X to new and emerging generations of African American youth and leadership, such as #BlackLivesMatter.
Given his close working relationship with Malcolm X and his significant contributions to the African American Liberation Movement after Malcolm’s death, Stanford is among a very few uniquely qualified to answer the questions, Who is Malcolm X and why did the Malcolm X assassination occur. Stanford is no academic observer writing about these events. He has devoted his life to carrying out the mission of Malcolm X.
After the Malcolm X assassination, Stanford went on to play a critical role in the African American struggle. He has had many accomplishments in the African American Liberation Movement. He founded the African People’s Party. He was also very instrumental in the emergence of the Black Power Movement, the formation of the Black Panther Party, the Congress of African People, the African Liberation Support Committee and African Liberation Day.
While Stanford’s name is not a household word like some of the other Movement leaders of the 1960’s, his impact should not be underestimated. The organizations built by Stanford and his associates have touched and influenced all aspects of the modern Black Liberation Movement.
One of the lessons they learned and implemented followingthe Malcolm X assassination is the concept of building from below, in direct contrast to the notion of promoting a single mass leader or cult of personality. This technique, known as cadre development, focuses on the building of closely knit cells of highly trained operatives who influence the movement by boring into, or forming, mass public entities (working from below) to carry out specific objectives. While these public fronts or coalitions and other formations become well know, the cadre, or operatives, are generally invisible to the public eye. The impact of highly trained revolutionary black nationalist cadre impacting the growth, development, and direction of the Black Liberation Movement in the USA is the lasting legacy of the impact of Max Stanford.
Who is Malcolm X?
A Gifted Leader of our People cut down in his Prime
by Dr. Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford)
My First Meeting with Malcolm X
My interaction with Malcolm X was political and one which evolved in a short span of time. I first met Malcolm on Thanksgiving Day of November in 1962 at Shabazz No. 7 Restaurant in Harlem. I was accompanied by Sister Wanda Marshall, a close friend and co-worker.
How I Met Malcolm X
We had called the restaurant and asked how we could reach Minister Malcolm. They told us we could meet him that afternoon/early evening in the restaurant (about 4 p.m.). Malcolm and minister 2X Goodman came into the restaurant after a speaking engagement in Buffalo, New York. One of the sisters, or either an F.O.I. person, (I don’t know which) told Malcolm we were students and wanted to talk to him.
Malcolm came over to our booth, and we introduced ourselves. Malcolm was hoarse from speaking and apologized for being with a sore voice. I told Malcolm I had just dropped out of Central State College to work in the movement in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to create a black radical alternative but was uncertain as to whether I should join the Nation of Islam or organize independent of it.
Who is Malcolm X? A Student of African American History
Malcolm began lecturing Wanda and me on African American history. He talked for about 45 minutes, or at least it seemed that long to me. Personally, I was stunned. I had studied under PhD’s, both African-American and white, but Malcolm displayed a profound knowledge of African American history. In fact, it was more history than I had ever heard any one person articulate at one time in life.
Organize Outside of the Nation of Islam
When he ended his speech, I asked him should I join the Nation of Islam. To my surprise he said, “No, you can do more for the honorable Elijah Muhammad by organizing outside of the Nation.” Malcolm excused himself because he was hoarse and was losing his voice.
Minister Benjamin 2X and Mathematics
He asked minister Benjamin 2X to teach us about mathematics. Malcolm explained that Benjamin had excelled in mathematics in grade school before dropping out and that Elijah Muhammad had motivated him to bring this talent out….. Minister Benjamin began to expound on the science of mathematics from a black perspective for another twenty minutes.
Formation of Revolutionary Action Movement
From that first meeting with Malcolm, I left and returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the determination to organize outside of the Nation of Islam; that is, to the left of the Nation. Within the next two months Wanda, along with a few friends and myself, formed the Revolutionary Action Movement collective in Philadelphia. I would meet with Malcolm periodically after he would speak at the local mosque in Philadelphia or as a guest speaker or at African bazaars held in New York. These conversations would be brief chitchat sessions on some aspect of the movement.
Going South to Work with SNCC
Around this time I would travel South on weekends working closely with African-American radicals in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Who is Malcolm X and what is his Significance as an African American Leader?
Who is Malcolm X? El Hajj Malik El Shabbaz, Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska and assassinated February 21, 1965, was a mass African-American leader. Malcolm X probably had more impact on the thinking of African-Americans and progressive peoples of the world second only to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Standing among the great giants of the African-American national liberation struggle, leaders like Frederick Douglas, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey, Malcolm dared to internationalize the African-American struggle, challenge U.S. imperialism and attempted to chart a new course for the African-American movement for human rights. But more importantly to understand is the political philosophy of Malcolm X in his last year of being. Dialectical (flexible) in thinking, or adhering to critical analysis of the contradictions he faced, is what made Malcolm a threat to the United States government, a target of assassination, and why he was so instrumental to the African-American liberation struggle.
Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Malcolm X and Dr. King: Principled Leaders
First, we must understand that what made Malcolm so dangerous, just as the late Dr. King, was that he was a man of principle. Malcolm X did not compromise his principles. Malcolm did not compromise his principles for money, prestige, women, or power – all of which were offered to him.
Who is Malcolm X? A Role Model for African American Youth
What makes Malcolm vital to African-American liberation: he was a reformed man, a disciplined man with little or no vices. I say this because there is room for improvement always in everyone’s character. So, I will not attempt to build Malcolm into super human. But he was a role model which every African-American youth can emulate.
Who is Malcolm X: A Reformed Street Hustler
Malcolm X lived the life of a hustler like many of our African-American youth who are faced with the temptation of using or selling crack and other drugs every day. But Malcolm, when he was doing six years time in prison, began to study and reform.
Who is Malcolm X: A Student of History
Malcolm X was a student of history, and that’s what made him one of the most dynamic political philosophers and leaders African-Americans ever produced. For some 16 years or more, Malcolm X studied history, philosophy, religion and politics. Malcolm became a minister for the Nation of Islam led by Elijah Muhammad from 1952 to 1964. During that time, as a spokesman, agitator and organizer, he stimulated, recruited for, and helped build the Nation of Islam into a powerful organization of some 50,000 members….
Three Phases of Malcolm X Political Development
We can identify three periods in the development of the political thought of Malcolm X. The first period, from 1952 through most of 1962, was characterized by the theology of the Nation of Islam. Black nationalism’s renewed popularity owed much to the Nation of Islam, which offered a scathing critique of white America.
Phase 1: The Nation of Islam
It was in the Nation of Islam that Malcolm X returned to aspects of the black nationalism of his childhood. Young Malcolm was profoundly influenced by his father’s (Earl Little) tragic death and the cause, rumored to be the work of a white hate group, traumatized young Malcolm. Though not in his autobiography, Malcolm said he was awakened by a dream-like vision soon after his father’s death and saw himself being assassinated while speaking before a group of people similar to that of his father…..
The Fruit of Islam (FOI)
In 1957, Malcolm emerged as a national organizer when a Muslim was being beaten by the police in Harlem. Malcolm and the Fruit of Islam (FOI) demonstrated in silent disciplined military order, consisting only of Malcolm’s command of a hand signal; Malcolm dispersed the FOI only after securing medical treatment for the injured Muslim. Watching Malcolm’s dynamics with the people of Harlem, the precinct police captain said “No man should have that much power.”…..
Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary
Malcolm X taught that African-Americans were oppressed because African-Americans’ oppression serves the interest of the capitalist ruling class. He said liberation “freedom” could not be achieved through the capitalist system. Malcolm taught that it is foolish to limit yourself to one tactic when fighting for liberation. One should not just limit oneself to violent or non-violent tactics. You use whatever tactics are best for the situation you are in; you use any means.
Malcolm X Advocated Community Self Defense
Malcolm taught that the way to stop racial abuse was for the entire African-American community to arm for collective self defense. Malcolm said every African-American household should have a shotgun. But, he also said that African-Americans shouldn’t use these guns against one another. They should be used mainly for stopping racial abuse, defending themselves.
Malcolm Advocated Brotherly and Sisterly Love
Malcolm said African-Americans should love one another as brothers and sisters and never do to your brother or sister what you would not want done to yourself. But if a brother or sister did harm to the community, then it was up to the community to correct them…..
Malcolm was forced at 38 years of age to start his life anew and to renounce much of what he believed to be the truth for much of his adult life (18 years) and at the same time being thrust into national and international leadership. Malcolm had to build an organization foundation from scratch. In less than a year, Malcolm laid the foundation to the Muslim Mosque, Inc. (M.M.I.) and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (O.A.A.U.)…..
Phase 2: Political Internationalist
In 1964, Malcolm X changed from viewing white people as devils to attacking the international capitalist system as the principal enemy of persons of African descent. Malcolm stated that the United States Federal Government was the cause and root of oppression being the government that is controlled by the U.S. monopoly capitalist class. Malcolm changed from being a racial religious nationalist to a political internationalist.
Eight points of Malcolm
Malcolm said that persons of African descent couldn’t get freedom under the capitalist system and had to struggle for “freedom by any means necessary“.
He said persons of African descent should arm for self-defense.
While he believed that persons of African descent constituted a nation and that African-Americans would have to struggle for self-determination, he believed the majority of the African-American people hadn’t developed a national consciousness yet to do this. In this regard, he advocated revolutionaries to become involved in struggles which the people were concerned about in order to raise their consciousness. Before his death he said he no longer felt African-Americans constituted “a nation within a nation”.
Malcolm advocated revolutionary internationalism, an internationalism that would change and overturn the system.
Malcolm wanted to form a revolutionary political party independent of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Malcolm constantly spoke out against U.S. imperialism, taking a revolutionary internationalist position. He condemned the war in Vietnam and U.S. imperialist aggression in the Congo.
He appealed to African leaders to break off ties with the U.S.; Nassar of Egypt supported the move.
His move to bring the U.S. before the UN would have isolated the U.S. in the world and would have affected billions of dollars in international trade.
Working with Malcolm X
By the spring of 1963, RAM had become known in the Philadelphia area of being a direct action oriented black nationalist organization. Without RAM realizing it, Malcolm was closely watching our development. RAM worked in unity with Cecil B. Moore and the Philadelphia NAACP, at the time.
Philadelphia Demonstrations Against Racism in Building Trades
RAM, along with the Philadelphia NAACP, organized a week long series of demonstrations against union discrimination in the building trades at a construction site in North Philadelphia in May of 1963. Thousands of African-Americans came into the streets to demonstrate. The demonstrations often became violent when demonstrators fought back when pushed, jostled, clubbed or attacked by police.
I Called Malcolm from Police Station
Such was the case on May 27, 1963 when Stan Daniels and I were beaten and arrested. Once inside the police station, I asked the police if I could make a phone call. They said yes I could. Because we were demonstrators they weren’t watching us too closely. I opened my phone book and called Mosque No. 7 in New York and asked to speak to Minister Malcolm. When Malcolm took the phone, I began telling him how the police had attacked us on the picket lines. Malcolm said “Brother my hands are tied, but I will do everything I can do.”
Malcolm Came to Philadelphia
That evening, during his weekly lecture, he announced what had taken place in Philadelphia at Mosque No. 7 in New York. He called for support of the demonstrators in Philadelphia. Before the week was out, Malcolm came to Philadelphia and spoke on radio about the incident and also spoke at the Philadelphia Mosque.
Message to the Grassroots
By the summer of 1963, RAM had joined a national network of local groups in the north which called themselves the Black Liberation Front of the U.S.A. At the Grassroots Conference held in Detroit, Michigan, in the fall of 1963, Don Freeman from Cleveland, Ohio (representing the BLF/USA) spoke on the same platform with Malcolm just before the famous Grassroots speech. Freeman called for a black revolution; and for the first time, probably in his recent career, Malcolm was considered more conservative than the previous speaker.
Malcolm Breaks from the Nation of Islam
When Malcolm declared his independence from the Nation of Islam, Don Freeman from the BLF/USA was also there and spoke at Malcolm’s news conference. During this time I was traveling the northern cities attempting to raise funds for a National Afro‑American Student Conference that the BLF/USA was proposing to have in the South in May of 1964.
National Afro‑American Student Conference
I wrote Malcolm on several occasions telling him of our plans to have the conference. The conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee, May 1st to 4th in 1964. From Nashville, Tennessee, Rolland Snellings and I met with John Lewis and others of the SNCC staff in Atlanta and went into Greenwood, Mississippi, to build a southern black nationalist self-defense base. After traveling the state of Mississippi and experiencing the need for an independent resource fund, I traveled to Detroit, Michigan to raise funds for SNCC’s new projects. In Greenwood, and again from Detroit, I wrote Malcolm of the new developments in the Southern movement.
RAM organized as a National Organization
At a national meeting convened in Detroit, the Revolutionary Action Movement/Black Liberation Front U.S.A. was formally organized as a national organization. From the tentative structure that RAM had drafted, Malcolm X was proposed to be the international spokesman of RAM.
From Detroit, Michigan, See Bass, Willie Peacock (both from Mississippi), and I traveled to New York to meet with Malcolm. Once in New York, I called Malcolm at the Hotel Theresa and went to see him in his office. There (in his office) I told him of developments of RAM, the student conference, and the shift to self-defense in the Southern movement. Malcolm said, “let’s go somewhere else to talk.” We went to 22 West Restaurant off of 135th & Lenox. Malcolm mentioned he had read the Monthly Review article May-June, 1964 article, “The Colonial War at Home.” http://www.academia.edu/5193708/From_One_Generation_to_the_Next_Armed_Self-defense_Revolutionary_Nationalism_and_the_Southern_Black_Freedom_Movement He said that he agreed with the editorial. Malcolm said, “Brother, what do you want me to do?”
Malcolm Becomes Secret RAM Spokesman
I gave him an organizational plan to be an international spokesman of RAM. Malcolm reviewed the plan. Then he said, “I see you have studied the Nation of Islam’s structure.” I said, “Yes, I have.” Then he (Malcolm) said that he would become the RAM spokesman; but, that it would have to be secretive because the RAM International Chairman, Robert F. Williams, was a fugitive from “justice” and his association organizationally with Williams could make him indictable.
Robert F Williams
I told Malcolm that RAM wanted him to study our documents, that we wanted to have one-on-one ideological sessions with him and that RAM wanted Malcolm to articulate RAM’s mass line. Malcolm agreed to do this. He also agreed that as part of this agreement Malcolm was not to attack Elijah Muhammad publicly.
For most of the month of June, and, I think, part of July, I would meet with Malcolm in the morning either at 22nd West Restaurant or at his office at the Hotel Theresa. We would either ride or sometimes walk and talk. On one occasion, he took me to meet Louis Michaux at the black nationalist book store at 125th Street and Lenox Avenue. Malcolm told me that Louis Michaux had taught him a lot. Malcolm showed me books written by abolitionists. He said they were not considered academic because the books were too emotional about slavery (subjective); but, he said that’s how a person could get a good picture of the way slavery actually was by the showing of its brutal accounts. Michaux took us in the back room of the store filled with select books and a wall of pictures. Michaux and Malcolm said they had a study group together in which they analyzed certain books.
Almost each day, Malcolm would meet with a different community leader or speak with a community group (usually in the evening). I would meet him around 9 am., we would travel, and we would go to lunch about 1:00 p.m. where Helen Latimere would wait on us. Malcolm would usually have a banana split for lunch, and then we would ride around discussing politics. He would break (I would assume to go home to spend time with his family), and, sometimes, we would meet at a designated place later in the evening. During this time, Malcolm was forming the OAAU (Organization of African-American Unity). I would go to the pre-OAAU meetings and also to the Sunday mass meetings Malcolm was holding. Malcolm gave me his home phone number and assigned me to call sister Betty to describe to her what he had said at the Sunday meetings.
Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford)
During this time, I was approached by Bill Worthy, an African-American news journalist, to see if I could get Malcolm to come to a meeting with an African leader named Dr. Gay from French West Africa. I told Malcolm about the proposed meeting and he contacted Bill Worthy. If my memory is correct, I think in attendance were Bill Worthy, Dr. Gay, a white female French interpreter from SWP, Barbara Weeks of Brooklyn CORE, Charles 67X Kenyatta, (who was Malcolm’s bodyguard), Malcolm and myself. As the conversation progressed, Barbara Weeks asked Dr. Gay if she would receive asylum if she went to the Guinea Embassy. Mrs. Weeks was facing multiple charges stemming from her participation in the Stall-in Core demonstration in ’64. Mrs. Weeks said she was seeking asylum because this wasn’t African-American’s country anyway. I interrupted her and said that America (the United States) was more of the African-American’s country than Euro-American’s, so called white people and ran down some African-American history in a very emotional “charged up” manner. Malcolm stood up and pointed to me and said “you…you’re the one who should be speaking to black youth in America instead of me.”
Either on that occasion or another, Malcolm asked if he, Charles 67X (Kenyatta) and myself could use a back room where the three of us met. Malcolm introduced me to brother Charles 67X (Kenyatta) and said that he trusted Charles more than any of his men. Malcolm ended the conversation by saying the three of us would meet again when he came back from his trip to Africa. Malcolm then instructed me to contact him the next day.
Probably the next day or sometime thereafter, Malcolm and I were riding around in his car talking. I would ask Malcolm questions like “Why do you have a 1964 Ninety-Eight Oldsmobile.” He said he would have a hog (Cadillac) except for the fact that pimps and preachers had hogs and that’s why he didn’t get one. He said he had an Olds because African-Americans would follow those of us who they felt were successful. Malcolm said “Money breeds money and if you looked successful you were more prone to attract money to you.” Malcolm said this was one of the reasons Mr. Muhammad had Muslims wear a suit and tie.
Preparing for Succession of Leadership
One day as Malcolm pulled up to double-park outside of 22nd West Restaurant, a long period of time occurred with Malcolm not talking. With my vivid imagination in the bright of sunlight, I envisioned that I saw Malcolm being assassinated. As I turned to look at him looking at me and without saying anything else, I said “Isn’t there anything you can do to stop it?” He said, “No, it is fixed.” Malcolm went on to explain he had a vision as a child that he would be killed while speaking to an audience of people similar to the circumstances of his father’s death.
Malcolm said he had gone as far as he could go for his generation and felt much rested on the younger generation. Malcolm said that he would do for me what he had done for Elijah Muhammad.
I asked him what he meant by that and he said he would introduce me as the next leader at his Sunday mass meetings. I told him I didn’t know what to say after he finished speaking. I just couldn’t imagine myself being introduced by Malcolm. I didn’t think I would know what to do or say. I was not prepared to accept all that responsibility at that time. Malcolm was strongly opinionated about it; but I interjected that it was premature and he finally agreed that I was probably right. But in the forthcoming days he gave me an intense one on one training through conversation providing lessons into his life. Malcolm said he didn’t know who he could trust inside both of his organizations because he was so infiltrated. I said RAM would send in brothers and sisters into the OAAU and the Muslim Mosque, Inc., to develop an internal security wing to help protect him, but we both knew we were working against time. I sent in Khalid Said to form an inner security wing to protect Malcolm inside the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and Larry Neal, Helen Brans and Elaine Freeman into the OAAU while Herman Ferguson and Merle Stewart were already inside Malcolm’s organization.
Walter Bowie and I were inside some of the founding meetings of the OAAU, but we were more in the background. There was some talk of me heading up the self defense committee of the OAAU, but I preferred being in the background.
One day, Malcolm took me to meet Jessie Gray, Harlem rent strike leader. (After the Malcolm X assassination, I would later work with Jessie Gray.) Malcolm told Jessie Gray that I had just come up north from Mississippi. Jessie Gray and Malcolm talked about genocide and taking the U.S. government to the United Nations in violation of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.
SNCC and Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
On another occasion I introduced Willie Peacock and See Bass of the Mississippi SNCC field staff to Malcolm. They and others made plans for Malcolm to go to Mississippi and eventually along with sister Sharon helped develop the SNCC, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, OAAU link. When riding with Malcolm one day, I mentioned that he shouldn’t go to Mississippi talking the way he did in Harlem. Malcolm asked me “Why not?” I said because the brothers and sisters there will go off. Malcolm said, “That’s the problem, they need to go off!”
The only time I found Malcolm irrational and totally subjective was over the question of his attacking Elijah Muhammad. One morning, Malcolm had attacked Elijah Muhammad about his morals while fighting over the rights to retain his house. At lunch at 22nd West restaurant that afternoon, I asked Malcolm why he had attacked Elijah Muhammad. He said “I just had to do it, brother, I had to do it.”
A Bitter Pill to Swallow
He then went on to explain that he felt like a fool for having gone around the country teaching about the divinity of Elijah Muhammad, having the brothers beaten and kicked out of NOI for infidelity and that he had maintained moral discipline for years turning down the natural attraction of many women only to find out that Elijah Muhammad had been having sex with quite a few women outside of his marriage. That was quite a bitter pill to swallow. Malcolm said that he had believed that Elijah Muhammad was divinely chosen by God. He also said that the NOI had gone off track.
A Black Mafia Inside The Nation of Islam
He said that a mafia had taken over the Nation of Islam. Though he felt this had happened, he said he still didn’t want to see the Nation of Islam destroyed.
An example of the level of street hustler support Malcolm had, displayed itself one day while riding in his car. Malcolm was cruising around the Sugar Hill area of Harlem, pointing out landmarks of the 40s and 50s (when a hustler came across the street hollering “Red”). Malcolm pulled his car to a stop. The brother was running toward the car with two objects, holding one in each hand. I sat on guard, in apprehension; but Malcolm was relaxed, so I relaxed a little.
As the brother came closer to the car I could see that the two objects in his hands were bundles of dollar bills. Malcolm smiled and the brother (in his late 30s or early 40s) said “Red, you gave them hell last night!” (Malcolm had been on a radio program.) “I loved it!” He hugged Malcolm and ran back across the street.
Duke Ellington and Lena Horne
Malcolm went on to explain that he used to hustle with the brother in the 40’s. He said the bar where the brother had been hanging at was a big spot in the 40’s where Duke Wellington and Lena Horne would perform. Malcolm said he knew Duke and Lena, but it was not like it is now. “Back in the 40s, you could easily mingle and associate with them then; but not now, they are like big shots.”
Malcolm would speak at neighborhood PTA meetings, which surprised me. African-American teachers, on a couple of occasions, invited him to speak.
I think the time I recall the most of witnessing Malcolm’s organizational ability would have been in the pre-planning of the OAAU meetings. On one occasion, Malcolm proposed that the organization be called the NLF (National Liberation Front). When people reacted that the name National Liberation Front would be premature he quietly pocketed the proposal and asked the group to come up with suggestions of a name the following week.
On another occasion, Malcolm would throw out a discussion lead and after maybe a half-hour of debate among members of the group on it he would show each of the seemingly opposing sides how and where each one was in agreement. I later learned that that was called synthesis or summing up.
What Malcolm Taught Me
He taught me the importance of Time. He left me the first time we were supposed to have a political strategy session. He said, “A revolution is run on time, brother, you can’t be late for a revolution.” I was not late for any other meeting.
I learned from Malcolm the necessity to have a multi-tiered level of organization. Everyone is not the same or have the same skills or temperament. But we must respect what each and every one of us brings to the table. I learned that a successful organization is always polite and courteous to all the people.
Self Discipline and Respect for Women
I learned that a successful organization should not take liberties with women and above all must be an example of self-discipline. Malcolm did not smoke, drink, or have extra marital affairs for twenty years. He also limited his diet and often fasted especially before major speaking engagements. Malcolm had a dilemma; he was a charismatic leader trying to build a collective.
So from practice and being around Malcolm what did we learn?
Queen Mother Moore
The Need for Collective Leadership
What the assassination of Malcolm X and the demise of the Black Panther Party showed is that we need a group-centered leadership. It is important we go back to the philosophy of Ella Baker and Queen Mother Audley Moore. We should develop free space within the movement once again for women leaders…..
Malcolm X: A Critical Thinker and An Evolving Leader
Malcolm was a serious, disciplined student of history and the science of political change in search of the truth. He was a critical thinker, an organic intellectual mass leader dialectically evolving, dealing with contradictions as they constantly arose in this race, class, and gender structured world society.
Malcolm X: Student, Historian and Political Analyst
Malcolm studied most of his adult life. He studied for approximately 20-21 years. Malcolm started studying while in prison for seven years and continued for the 11 to 12 years he served as organizer/spokesman for the Nation of Islam; a total of 19 years. Malcolm developed into a historian and a political scientist; that is, he was a political analyst. His political analysis was very sharp and clear. They were an intense race and class discussions synthesized in popular form. The average person could understand how and why he drew his rational conclusions.
In his last year, Malcolm gave lectures on his travels to Africa and the Middle East or Islamic countries and tried to broaden the consciousness of his audiences, trying to transform them from parochial black nationalist to become revolutionary internationalists. Malcolm was not an Islamic fundamentalist. He was an Islamic international modernist who believed in the equality of women.
Malcolm on the Significance of African History
In his January 24, 1965 lecture at an OAAU meeting, Malcolm talked about the great achievements of ancient Egypt, the great pyramid, Sphinx and writing of Egypt. Few at that time realized the level of mathematics achieved by the ancient Egyptians in order to determine when stars that appeared once in 50,000 years would appear. Very few, if any, ever thought about the level of chemistry perfected by the ancient Egyptians to make paintings that lasted and maintained their brilliance for 5,000 years.
Malcolm talked of the kingdoms of Ethiopia and Kush. He taught about the great kingdom of Carthage that produced the great military general Hannibal who colonized Sicily and took elephants over the Alps Mountains when he battled the young republic of Rome in the second Punic war.
Malcolm taught about the Moorish civilization of North Africa and its’ conquest of southwestern Europe (Portugal, Spain and southern France) for 700 years; from the years 711 a.d. to 1492.
Malcolm (Malik) discussed the historical achievements of the medieval/ancient African kingdoms of Ghana, which existed from 300 a.d. – 1076 ad. and was known for its abundance of.gold, the Mali empire which existed from 1200 a.d. to 1500 ad. and the Songhai Empire which existed from 1464 a.d. to 1591 a.d. and of their great cities.
Malcolm taught about the city of Timbuktu, which prospered through all three empires and was known for its great Mosques and Universities. It had 150 Islamic schools, a law school and the University of Sanokore was a prime educational center in the world at that time. The most fluent trade of Timbuktu was the selling and trading of books and it had many book dealers.
The city of Jenne, 300 miles southwest of Timbuktu, just off the Niger river, was known for its medical practices at the University of Jenne, which had four hundred faculty and taught courses, law, medicine, history, astronomy, algebra and higher mathematics. At the University of Jenne, the removal of cataracts on the eye was practiced long before this was achieved in Europe and America. Malcolm taught about the black civilizations of the Darvidians of ancient India and also of the Sumerians in the Middle East (West Asia).
Black Nationalist to Internationalist Freedom Fighter
The year of 1964 was one of great transformation for Malcolm X. Malcolm evolved from being a black nationalist into becoming an internationalist freedom fighter; an orthodox (Sunni) Muslim. Though still fighting for equality in the United States because he was an African American, on March 9, 1964 in an interview with the New York Times he said,
“I am prepared to cooperate in local Civil Rights actions in the South and elsewhere and shall do so because every campaign for specific objectives can only heighten the political consciousness of African Americans. There is no use deceiving ourselves, good education, housing and jobs, are imperatives for power
Nasser and Gaddafi
Malcolm Supported Palestinian Liberation
At the same time Malcolm said that he would be against oppression of anyone regardless of race, creed or religion. He was in firm support of Palestinian liberation against the Zionist state of Israel. He wrote two articles for Abdul Gamel Nasser’s Egyptian Gazette; one called “Zionist Logic”. He had transformed into a Muslim revolutionary who was in a stage of jihad (holy war of truth against falsehood).
Malcolm X believed that the education or reeducation of African Americans was necessary for the building of a new mass movement capable of fighting effectively for human rights. Malcolm taught that the cause of racism was due to an international power structure; we say today the international capitalist class, the 500 multi-national corporations that control the world economy. Victor Perlo in the Economics of Racism II; the Roots of Inequality, USA, says.
“I estimate the material losses of oppressed peoples in 1992 at $522 billion, with more than half of the total – $275 billion sustained by African Americans”.….
Malcolm Taught about The African Holocaust
Malcolm said the worst crime of genocide the capitalist system had committed was teaching Africans worldwide to hate themselves. Malcolm X taught the worst holocaust is the African holocaust. He said just think of the African slave trade alone. In his speech on April 8,1964, he said,
Slave ship diagram
“The Missing 75 million
One hundred million Africans were uprooted from the African continent – where are they today? One hundred million Africans were uprooted, 100 million Africans according to the book, Anti-Slavery, by the Professor Dwight Lowell Dumond – excuse me for raising my voice – were uprooted from the continent of Africa. At the end of slavery you didn’t have 25 million Africans in the Western Hemisphere. What happened to those 75 million? Their bodies are at the bottom of the ocean, or their blood and their bones have fertilized the soil of this country”
Malcolm X On Allies
Malcolm believed in allying with other ethnic groups. He believed in allying with anyone who was opposed to oppression of others anywhere, where you may find it on the planet earth. He believed the role of whites (Caucasians) were to work in the white community to fight against racism and reaction there. Malcolm told me he was very sorry about what he had told a young white woman who approached him after making a speech at a university, while in the Nation of Islam. She asked him what could she do to help, and he said “nothing”. Malcolm said, if he saw that young lady now (1964), he would tell her she had a role; everyone has a role in the struggle.
Malcolm’s International Impact
Internationally, Malcolm united Africans who previously would not speak to one another in Paris, France, and in London, U.K, and also united them with African-Americans who were living aboard in those countries. He formed OAAU chapters in Paris and London. He requested permission to make a trip to the People’s Republic of China, while in London. He united much of the Muslim communities in both countries with African and African-American communities. He impressed many whites in both countries and in countries such as Germany where those progressive communities saw Malcolm as the new international revolutionary leader.
Opposition to Vietnam War
Malcolm was a firm opponent of the U.S. war against the Vietnamese people. In Africa, he took a strong anti imperialist, anti colonialist, anti neo-colonialist stance charging that the United States was the new imperialist power; the 20th / 21st century ROME.
Malcolm Exposed US Hypocrisy in Africa
The U.S. State department in a report stated that Malcolm X had setback U.S. foreign policy in Africa, ten years in one year (1964). He called upon African leaders at the OAU summit not to accept “blood money” from the U.S. He asked the Saudis (Saudi Arabia), if they really supported the Palestine struggle and African American struggle then they should cut off the oil to Israel, the U.S. and Europe. A Saudi prince agreed with Malcolm and he was assassinated in 1974-75…..
Ahmad Ben Bellah of Algeria, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sekou Ture of Guinea, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Muhammad Babu of Zanzibar were in support of Malcolm’s efforts to bring a U.N. indictment of Genocide against the U.S. for it’s treatment of African-Americans…..
Black Nationalism: The Political Philosophy of Malcolm X
Malcolm X described the political philosophy of black nationalism to mean that African-Americans should control the politics and the politicians of their community. He also felt the African-American community had to be re-educated into the science of politics, so it will know what politics is suppose to bring them in return. Malcolm felt the economic philosophy of black nationalism meant that African-Americans should control the economy of the African-American community. Malcolm emphasized the social philosophy of black nationalism meant that African-Americans should come together to remove the evils, vices, alcoholism, drug addiction and other evils that were destroying the moral fiber of the African-American community.
Conservatism and Liberalism
In describing conservatism and liberalism, Malcolm said, conservatism in America’s politics means let’s keep the niggers in their place and liberalism means let’s keep the kneegrows’ in their place, but till then we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.
The Role of Sincere Whites
Malcolm said where sincere white people should be working to eliminate racism is inside the white community. Malcolm said he encouraged white people to work in conjunction with African-Americans but to work among other whites.
Let sincere white individuals find all other white people they can who feel as they do and let them form their own all-white groups to work trying to convert the other white people who are thinking and acting so racist. Let sincere whites go and teach non-violence to white people.
Malcolm said “the American capitalist system had socialized (brain-washed), African-Americans into only seeing their struggle as a domestic civil rights problem and that it would be a long period of time before African-Americans would see their struggle as part of the international struggle for human rights.“
The Purpose of the Organization of Afro-American Unity
Malcolm said the purpose of the OAAU was to bring independence of people of African descent in the western hemisphere; first in the United States fighting against enemies in every means necessary. He said the motto of the OAAU was freedom, justice and equality by any means necessary. He said the purpose of the OAAU was to unite all persons of African descent into one united force and when this is done in the western hemisphere to unite with Africans on the motherland on the continent of Africa.
Malcolm said he didn’t want to organize African-Americans to the democrats or republicans because both had betrayed African-Americans in the past and present. He proposed to support and organize political clubs to run independent candidates for office and to support any African-American candidate who is not controlled by the white power structure. He said he would start voter registration drives but with voter education drives to help. He believed that African-Americans have to have an understanding of the science of politics so they will be able to understand when a politician is doing his/her job and when they are not. The purpose would be to remove any politician who is not serving the interests of the community regardless of his/her color.
On Colonialism and Imperialism
If you are seriously trying to understand, who is Malcolm X, then you should know what Malcolm believed. Malcolm believed that colonialism or imperialism is the slave system of the West that is not confined to England or France or the United States. He felt the interests of the United States are in cohorts with the interests in France and the interests in Britain. He felt monopoly capital is one huge complex or combine and it creates not just an American or French power structure, but it is an international capitalist power structure. This international capitalist power structure is used to suppress the masses of dark-skinned people all over the world which exploits them of their natural resources.
The Potential of Persons of African Descent in the Western Hemisphere
Who is Malcolm X? Like Marcus Garvey before him, Malcolm X felt there was great revolutionary potential in unifying persons of African descent, or what he called, dark-skinned people in the Western Hemisphere. He believed that the two-thirds non-white of Brazil and Venezuela, Honduras and other Central American countries, Cuba, Jamaica, Canada and the United States when counted they numbered over 100 million people. Malcolm saw that through revolutionary Pan Africanism this force could be galvanized into revolutionary action in the western hemisphere.
On the U.S. Bombing Africans in the Congo
Who is Malcolm X? Malcolm X was the only African-American leader to criticize the United States for bombing the Simba’s (supporters of slain Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba) who were in rebellion against western colonial rule. He said the American left did not make an outcry while the U.S. dropped bombs on civilian women, children, babies and men destroying entire African Villages.
The Purpose of the OAAU: to Internationalize the Struggle
Malcolm built the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) to isolate U.S. imperialism. Through the OAAU, he appealed to the African heads of state to bring the United States government before the United Nations and charge it with the crime of genocide in violation of the U.N. Human Rights Charter. The State Department became alarmed over Malcolm’s efforts because such an indictment would expose the true nature of U.S. imperialism.
Malcolm felt that there was a racist element within the State department that realized that if any revolutionary African-American was ever permitted to come before the United Nations to testify on behalf of 22 million African-Americans then representatives of the Third World would equate America with the colonial powers of Europe and South Africa.
This racist element within the State department realized that if any intelligent, truly militant African-American was ever permitted to come before the United Nations to testify on behalf of 22 million mistreated Afro-Americans, our dark-skinned brothers and sisters would then see America as a “brute beast,” even more cruel than the colonial powers of Europe and South Africa combined.
In this sense, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) was to serve like the Committees of Correspondence of the American Revolution of 1776; these committees won similar support for the thirteen colonies. The OAAU was to serve as the broad African-American National Liberation Front that would set up offices in every country, giving African-Americans in exile an organizational vehicle and a political purpose. The OAAU would act as a united people’s front against the U.S. racism and imperialism.
Who is Malcolm X? An Anti Imperialist
Malcolm thought it would take the active support of the majority of the world’s democratic forces to help African-Americans achieve self-determination for the African-American struggle to succeed against U.S. imperialism. Malcolm was a staunch anti-imperialist, and he made important statements against U.S. foreign policy. He condemned U.S. counter-revolutionary murder, bombing, killing and maiming of African women and children in the Congo while U.S. mercenaries crushed the people’s revolution of the Congo.
At his mass rallies, he would announce and encourage people to attend demonstrations concerning the Congo which were then taking place in New York City. Malcolm also denounced the initial U.S. invasion of Vietnam and was the first African-American leader to condemn the Vietnam war. Unity with Africa, in particular, and the Third World, in general, and developing a spiritual, cultural and philosophical return to Africa was a central part of Malcolm’s theme.
Transform Civil Rights Movement into A Movement for Liberation
Malcolm X did not see this internationalization in isolation from a national and regional strategy for African-American liberation. Malcolm’s main theoretical problem was how to transform the civil rights movement into a progressive, scientific movement to secure national democratic human rights through mass action, while guiding this forward motion toward a socialist revolution. While Malcolm had a rough outline for liberation, like others at the time, he had not worked a strategy out in detail by the time of his death.
Malcolm broadened the civil rights movement when he said the African-American struggle was a movement for securing human rights. In essence, Malcolm knew he was aligning the black liberation movement with broad anti-imperialistic democratic forces of the world.
Who is Malcolm X? An Advocate of Black Electoral Power
Malcolm was not only a dialectical thinker, but he had a long range perspective. Part of Malcolm’s thinking focused on how African-Americans could achieve political empowerment prior to a socialist revolution and this was particularly focused on the black belt south.
“There are 915,743 of our people in the state of Mississippi, they’re in the majority. That’s almost one million. In 125 counties of Mississippi, they’re in the majority. Ninety other counties, they constitute more than 40 percent of the population. Any time you have that number of Black people who are of that numerical majority in that many counties, if they were given the vote, Eastland wouldn’t be representing them. The state of Mississippi would be in the hands of the Black man, and it must be in his hands by the ballot or the bullet. It must be one or the other. This is why the campaign they have in Mississippi for voter registration is a good campaign. They’re not trying to integrate, they’re trying to get our people registered to vote, which is good because it puts them in a position to strike right at the base of all their misery.”
By Any Means Necessary
Malcolm saw the importance of voter registration and the securing of a national democratic revolution that was set back after the overthrow of Reconstruction. Malcolm saw that’ through voting, African-Americans and progressive whites could secure control of the southern region of the United States through the ballot. If this process was halted, he advocated alternative means of completing the national democratic process or the battle for democracy. By raising the slogan “by any means necessary,” Malcolm X could not be accused of opposing non-violence in peaceful confrontations. Nor, logically, could he be accused of instigating violence in situations requiring self-defense.
But Malcolm did not limit this battle for democracy only to the south.
“Since our people are making such a sacrifice to become registered voters in Mississippi, it’s a sin for you and me not to be registered so we can vote in New York City and in New York State, or throughout the North.”
17 Point Program of the OAAU
A substance (drug) abuse clinic.
A place (halfway house) for unwed mothers.
A home for the aged in Harlem.
A guardian system for youth who get in trouble.
A cultural center in Harlem.
Non-partisan voter registration drives.
Independent political clubs.
Housing and self-improvement programs.
Ten percent of the schools not included.
African American principals and teachers for these schools.
Textbooks written by African-Americans.
OAAU run people for local school boards.
School strikes when necessary.
African-American primary schools.
African-American cultural revolution based on African-American history and pride.
Adult education and job retraining program.
Mobilize African American Masses for Reparations
On the question of self-determination, Malcolm left it open-ended as to how that was to happen. Malcolm felt that African-Americans were entitled to reparations, and this was the main underpinning to his maneuvering. Malcolm advocated the mass mobilization of the grass roots. He felt the grass roots would develop a consensus on how to proceed to self-determination and struggle. One thing that is clear is that Malcolm felt processes had to exhaust themselves before the masses could proceed to further levels of consciousness.
Malcolm advocated the formation of independent political clubs to begin the process toward African-American political empowerment.
“…Once you get the ballot, you know what this means? You don’t have to get out in the street anymore and risk your health and your life and your limb demonstrating. All you have to do is organize that political power and direct it against anyone who’s against you, or behind anyone who is for you. And in this way, you and I will find that we’re always taking constructive, positive action and getting some kind of result.”
In the process of building the OAAU, Malcolm developed a 17-point program for New York and particularly for Harlem. Malcolm had in mind building a base in New York first and then expanding the OAAU into a national organization.
High Moral Fiber Essential for Revolutionaries
Malcolm was clear that revolutionaries must embody a stronger spiritual (humane) morality than that of contemporary western capitalist civilization. He realized that it was the superior fiber among revolutionaries that enabled the “wretched of the earth” to overcome insurmountable obstacles.
In the fight for human rights and self-determination, progressives have often underestimated the social question or moral fiber of the movement, which is often neglected or relegated to the realm of culture. This suppressed issue needs serious attention in this period as drugs threaten to overtake all sectors of American society, and may exterminate the majority of the present and forthcoming generations of African-Americans. Many need to take Malcolm’s lead and focus on “scientific revolutionary morality” as an issue central to human rights and self-determination.
“Since the police can’t eliminate organized prostitution and all of the evils that are destroying the moral fiber of our community, it is up to you and me to eliminate these evils ourselves. But in many circumstances, when you unite in this country or in this city to fight organized crime, you’ll find yourselves fighting the police department itself because they are involved in the organized crime. Wherever you have organized crime, that type of crime cannot exist other than with the consent of the police, the knowledge of the police, the cooperation of the police…. The police are all right. I say there are some good ones and some bad ones….1 tell you brothers and sisters, it is time for you and me to organize and eliminate these evils ourselves, or we’ll be out of the world backward before we even know where the world was.”
Equal Political Treatment for Women
These words ring more true today as African-American communities disintegrate before our eyes, and young African-Americans engage in “self-destruct” genocide using crack, and dying from AIDS transmitted through dirty needles and illicit [unsafe—eg.] sex. Malcolm also tried to address the woman question: the equality of the sexes. Malcolm felt women should be treated equally to men, and politically educated just like men, even though he was not clear on this question, just like many of us today.
The Equality of Black Women
Before his untimely death, Malcolm, realized that non-equality of African women in African organizations hindered the liberation movement. He was practicing equality and consciously giving African- American women more responsibility and leadership in the OAAU.
Since that time, African-American women revolutionaries have fought the male chauvinist positions and actions of men in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Revolutionary Action Movement, Black Panther Party, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, African Liberation Support Committee and many other formations. Having been educated by the women’s movement, all male revolutionaries should, by this time, uphold and fight for women’s social, economic and political equality and the right to reproductive choice.
Travel broadens one’s horizon was Malcolm’s theme to explain his new understanding of the actual or real basis of race, class, and gender oppression worldwide. Through travels in the Middle East, the Hajj (Muslim spiritual pilgrimage) and conversations with Algerian revolutionaries, Malcolm changed his views on race. He said he would never again judge a person on the basis of race but rather upon what they did in practice.
Malcolm learned from his travels in Africa that in whatever country where the women were liberated, that country’s liberation movement was strong. He, therefore, began to practice equality between men and women in the Organization of Afro-American Unity and received resistance to his equalitarian gender policies from many of the men who had previously been members of the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm Influenced by Robert F. Williams
On the national level, Malcolm began to work with the more militant grassroots leaders of the civil rights movement like Gloria Richardson, Reverend Jamison, Dick Gregory, Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Jessie Gray and Lawrence Laundry who constituted an organization called ACT. Probably the one person who influenced Malcolm more than anyone during this period of his life was Robert F. Williams, ex-president, Monroe, North Carolina NAACP. Rob had recently become international chairman in exile of the Revolutionary Action Movement and was living in Cuba in 1964.
Malcolm Spent 18 Months in Africa and Middle East
Internationally, Malcolm spent 18 months in Africa and the Middle East. Among the many dignitaries he met with, he was most impressed with Aziewkee of Nigeria, Sekou Toure of Guinea, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Muhammad Babu, representatives of Ahmed Ben Bella of Algeria and Ahmed Gamal Nasser of Egypt. Malcolm wrote an article on “Zionist Logic” at the request of Nassar for the Egyptian Gazette, published September 17, 1964.
Clear Understanding of Israeli/Palestinian Conflict
The number one weapon of 20th century imperialism is zionist-Dollarism, and one of the main basis for this weapon is Zionist Israel. The ever-scheming European imperialists wisely place Israel where she could geographically divide the Arab world, infiltrate and sow the seed of dissension among African leaders and also divide the Africans against the Asians.
Zionist Israel’s occupation of Arab Palestine has forced the Arab to waste billions of precious dollars on armaments making it impossible for these newly independent Arab Nations to concentrate on strengthening the economic standards of their country and elevate the living standard of their people.
And the continued low standard of living in the Arab world has been skillfully used by the Zionist propagandists to make it appear to the Africans that the Arab leaders are not qualified to lift the living standard of their people…thus, indirectly “inducing” Africans to turn away from the Arabs and toward the Israelis for teachers and technical assistance.
“They cripple the bird’s wing, and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they.”
The imperialists always make themselves look good, but it is only because they are competing against economic cripples – newly independent countries whose economics are actually crippled by the zionist-capitalist conspiracy. They can’t stand against fair competition, thus they dread Gamal Abdul Nasser’s call for African-Arab Unity under Socialism.
This article probably put Malcolm on the “hit list” for Masad, the Israeli’s intelligence forces.
Malcolm: A Magnet of Unity for Africans
In France, Malcolm united Africans from all over the African continent who were previously at odds with one another along with persons of African descent from the Caribbean, and Latin America as well with those from the United States then living in France in exile. He gave them all a purpose; to serve as a propaganda unit for the African-American liberation struggle by forming a branch of the OAAU in France. He also created similar developments in England, Ghana and the UAR.
Charge US with Violating Human Rights of African Americans
Malcolm, in less than a year, became one of black America’s most progressive spokesmen. Beginning to support the mass civil rights demonstrations taking place in the South, he called for taking the U.S. government before the United Nations for it’s violation of human rights; the crime of genocide – which Dr. King supported.
Malcolm re-introduced the tactics of armed self-defense, previously practiced by Robert F. Williams, by calling for African-Americans to form rifle clubs for protection against racists and “using any means necessary” as a tactical philosophy. Malcolm was in contact with Che Guevera (a leader of the Cuban Revolution) and had invited Che to speak at one of his weekly rallies. Guevera had to turn the invitation down after discovering anti-Castro Cubans planned to either disrupt the rally or murder him while in attendance.
Community Control of Politics and Economics
Malcolm’s philosophy was that African-Americans should control the economics and politics of the African-American community. Malcolm called for organizing independent political clubs. This was the essence of his “ballot or bullet” message. Malcolm called on all African people wherever they may be to build political “bridges,” networks and organizations world-wide. Malcolm was about to introduce the OAAU program when he was assassinated.
Malcolm X Assasination Background
Malcolm’s turn toward revolutionary activism was studied and discussed at the highest levels of the ruling class.
Can’t be Bought by FBI
Malcolm told me that when he attended the March on Washington in August, 1963, the FBI came and picked him up from a group of Muslims he was with and took him to a building and asked him “Mr. X. what do you want? Do you want a million dollars, we will give you whatever you want.” Malcolm said he responded by saying “Give me New York.” Malcolm said Mr. Pedo, the Fed agent, said “Mr. X, we can’t talk with you” and took him back to where he had been standing observing the march. Malcolm’s uncompromising stand probably marked him as a threat to the “invisible government” as early as that date August 27, 1963.
Malcolm Under Daily US Intelligence Surveillance Since 1950s
From the recent release of FBI counter-intelligence documents and New York City Police Department Bureau of Special Services (BOSS) surveillance files, Malcolm was under daily watch by at least one intelligence agency since the early 1950s.
J. Edgar Hoover sent several letters to the Attorney General requesting legal action be taken against the Nation of Islam. Leaders of the NOI were put on the FBI Security Index.
Malcolm Break from Nation of Islam Alarmed US Intelligence
Malcolm X’s break from the Nation of Islam caused great alarm in the “invisible government” which was part of the intelligence community. Malcolm’s organizations: the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) were infiltrated by various intelligence and police agencies.
New York Bureau of Special Services (BOSS)
The infamous, highly secretive New York Bureau of Special Services (BOSS), which was responsible for the Statue of Liberty bomb plot (1965), the Roy Wilkins/Whitney Young assassination plot (1967), and the Panther 21 plot (1969), had infiltrated Malcolm’s organizations.
Prelude to the Malcolm X Assassination Set Up
Malcolm had also been a victim of poison while in the Middle East, possibly at the hand of the CIA.The State Department issued a memo on Malcolm in 1965, stating that he was detrimental to U.S. foreign policy. Malcolm remembered a tall, thin, dark, olive-skinned man following him in his world travels. This man returned to the United States when Malcolm returned.
Massive Police Agent Infiltration
Gene Roberts, a body guard for Malcolm, later turned up in the Panther 21 case as a police agent. McKinley Welch, an African-Puerto Rican, a BOSS agent in the New York Black Panther Party, stated to Max Stanford in 1967 that he had infiltrated Mosque (NOI) Number 7 in New York and had become secretary. When Malcolm left the Nation of Islam., Welch was ordered by his superiors to infiltrate the OAAU. Welch confessed to Stanford because of his increased political awareness.
Agents from Every Agency Present at the Malcolm X Assassination
He said agents from every agency were in the OAAU. From recorded reports of accounts given to the Herald Tribune on February 23, several members of BOSS were present in the audience at the time of the Malcolm X assassination. Also, the second man caught by the audience, at the time of the Malcolm X assassination, outside of the Audubon Ballroom and turned over to police mysteriously disappeared.
How Could the Malcolm X Assassination Occur in the Presence of So Many Agents?
Malcolm’s home in Queens, New York, had been fire-bombed a couple of weeks before his assassination. Since he was under constant surveillance and was on the FBI Security Index, where were the New York police and the FBI?
Why did Malcolm X Feel He was Going to be Assassinated?
In June of 1964, I spent the majority of the day with Malcolm on a daily basis. As we would walk down the street, eat lunch at 22 West Restaurant, ride in his car or meet with friends and representatives from other countries or community leaders, I would repeatedly ask him questions. I wanted to learn more about the one African-American man who RAM felt could mobilize 22 million African-Americans.
One day Malcolm said, “Brother, I have to be assassinated.” I asked, “Why?” Malcolm replied, “As national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, I had secrets of the Nation, and they can’t afford to let me live.” Not knowing anything about the situation, I just listened.
Secrets of the Nation of Islam
Malcolm said, “Brother, you see, as national representative of the Nation, I met with H.L. Hunt (right wing Texas billionaire) and George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party. It was just the Messenger (Elijah Muhammad) and myself. I was his national representative. We discussed helping the Nation. It was discussed that Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam would be given the state of Mississippi when fascism came into power in the country. I asked the Messenger why he negotiated with them. He said, “Sometimes you have to deal with the Devil.“
The Nation of Islam and The Black Mafia
Malcolm believed that Elijah Muhammad was being used and that a mafia was forming around the Nation of Islam. He felt this mafia was being set up to stop the real black revolution. This, coupled with the signed statements Malcolm had concerning Elijah Muhammad having impregnated three of his personal secretaries, Malcolm felt was the reason for the NOI leadership to be after him. As time went on, the Malcolm X assassination plot to became broader.
Why the Malcolm X Assassination
Malcolm X became a threat to the United States government when he broke from the Nation of Islam because of his statements, which expressed the sentiment of Africa-America, and his attempt to organize a revolutionary black nationalist movement.
Armed Black Self Defense: A Threat to the US
He, immediately, put himself in danger by attempting to organize the African-American community for armed self-defense. He knew that African-Americans had to be exposed to the nature of their condition and attempted to mobilize them for liberation. It’s significant that the only other black man who attempted to organize black America for self-defense (Robert F. Williams) was run into exile.
The Fusion of Malcolm X and Young Black Revolutionaries – Also A Threat
Malcolm’s friendliness to young African-American revolutionaries of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and SNCC frightened the power structure. It feared that this link-up would lead to a black revolution. Also, Malcolm called for the help of all sections of the African-American community to formulate a solution for the African-American liberation struggle. Out of this coalition of various elements in the African-American community came the Organization of African-American Unity. The name was designed after the Organization of African Unity and proved to be very significant in Malcolm’s attempt to re-establish revolutionary Pan-Africanism.
Who was Malcolm X: A Major Threat to US Foreign Policy
Malcolm’s first trip to Africa was very significant because it took the struggle out of the confines of the continental U.S.A. and linked it with the Third (non-white) World, making the African-American struggle international—the first time since the Garvey movement. It destroyed the myth that African-Americans are citizens denied their rights, and that African-American liberation was a domestic problem. Through his slogans of “Human Rights,” Malcolm raised the concept that African-Americans were an African captive nationality denied the right to self-determination. His trip exposed the U. S.I.A.’s “Uncle” Carl T. Rowan and other “Tom” leaders who have gone to Africa to whitewash the African-American struggle. During his trip, Malcolm exposed the Johnson administration in its attempt to rape Africa and showed, by example of the African-American struggle, how Pan-Africanism could not be a meaningful force for African liberation, unless it became a living example of Garvey’s original thesis that “no black person is free until all black people are free.” In this way he also showed that DuBois was correct in his original thesis that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”
When Malcolm returned from Africa, he destroyed the myth that Africa-America was alone in its struggle against U.S. imperialism. He also destroyed the taboos of the African-Americans not uniting with any people that U.S. imperialism said wasn’t “cool.” He emphasized how he had received whole hearted support from the Chinese ambassadors in countries he visited.
His Attempt to Turn the Civil Rights Movement into A Black Revolution – Also A Threat
Malcolm, through continuous efforts, attempted to relate the OAAU to the southern struggle and attempted to unify the civil rights leaders with revolutionary nationalist leaders. On March 9, 1964 in an interview with the New York Times, Malcolm announced his break with the Nation of Islam and his future plans:
I am prepared to cooperate in local civil rights actions in the South and elsewhere and shall do so because every campaign for specific objectives can only heighten the political consciousness of Blacks and to intensify their identification against white society.
Also, Malcolm’s main emphasis was to internationalize the African-American struggle; therefore he decided that a second trip to Africa was necessary to further consolidate the ties with African-African-American unity.
When Malcolm returned to Africa, he was recognized at the Cairo Conference which was the second convening of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). This recognition of Malcolm, by the African nations meant, essentially, that (Malcolm) represented an African-American government in exile.
In his speech at the Cairo Conference, he exposed the nature of U.S. imperialism and forced African countries to reconsider their position of nonalignment against U.S. imperialism. His speech brought out the true role of the United States in Africa and, in what he termed “U.S. dollarism,” which exposed Johnson and the rest of the racist cowboys as white supremacists.
This speech, and the rest of Malcolm’s trip destroyed, in essence, the concept of the “Peace Corps,” the image of every “Uncle Tom” leader who ever visited Africa, and forced African-Americans living in Africa to take a position on the African-American struggle, or be left in an isolated atmosphere.
Malcolm created such an atmosphere in Africa that SNCC, when visiting there, had to reevaluate itself, the struggle, and had to take stands that it had refused to take before, i.e., Cuba, Congo, China, Vietnam, etc.
Malcolm made a qualitative change in the African-American struggle when he went to Selma, Alabama. Internationally, he made such a tremendous impact through his exposure to the nature of imperialism that the French government denied him the right to speak before a congress of African students in France.
The Malcolm X Assassination Set Up
The events that were stated here led to what RAM called the “set-up.” The set-up was the bombing of Malcolm’s house which, from reliable sources, implies that the capitalist power structure helped in the bombing of Malcolm’s house (there were undercover agents everywhere), blamed it on the Nation of Islam, and set the atmosphere for their old colonial trick—divide and conquer. Editor’s Note: It was set up to look like a feud between the Nation of Islam and Malcolm’s new organizations. Thus, onlookers would blame the Nation.
Who is Malcolm X and What was his Political Significance?
Malcolm was the first African-American leader to attack the U.S. government in the 1960’s as the cause of racism and the enslavement of the African captive nationality. Through his existence he formed a bridge connecting the 1940’s, 1950’s generation and the 1960’s. He articulated the views of both generations and was going in the direction of developing a program that would have consolidated both generations towards African-American liberation.
It should be noted that Malcolm was really becoming a threat to the U.S. government’s capitalist power structure because of his growing influence on African and Asiatic students in this country and throughout the world. Malcolm’s trip to Africa had much to do with Nasser’s repudiation of U.S. “dollarism” when Nasser told the U.S. to “go to hell” with regard to U.S. aid and also concerning its blatant, brutal, racist activities in the Congo. Malcolm’s constant attacks on the U.S. government, particularly the CIA, threatened U.S. foreign policy; particularly in Africa, and just about finished the “Peace Corps.”
His influence in Africa was so strong that African leaders were not going to let James Farmer enter Africa unless Malcolm okayed it. Due to the efforts of Malcolm in Africa, coupled with those of Robert F. Williams in Asia and Latin America, the racist U.S. government was truly pictured as the citadel of world imperialism. This alone would give the CIA reason to orchestrate the Malcolm X assassination.
Through his telegrams and speeches warning about the far right, he helped to expose the plan the far right had, and is using, to take over America. He interpreted the far right’s (fascist’s) plan and what it meant to African-Americans.
Garvey UNIA Parade in Harlem
His effort to organize the Organization of Afro-American Unity was very significant, for this was the first organization officially recognized by an African government since the UNIA of Marcus Garvey. It had the potential of becoming a national African-American liberation front with a government in exile.
The Significance of Malcolm’s Trip to Selma
Malcolm’s trip to Selma, Alabama, was the first time that an African-American nationalist leader had gone into the South to organize people and challenge the bourgeois reformists. This lead to the unification of the struggle, both North and South, and made Malcolm a threat to U.S. imperialism’s pacification program. In Selma, Malcolm destroyed the myth of peaceful accommodation. His theme of “ballots or bullets” led the youth to one conclusion.
Malcolm X Assassination Summary
Events Before the Malcolm X Assassination
The police authorities, along with the CIA, FBI, and others, attempted to close in on potential African-American revolutionary forces by creating an atmosphere of an internal threat to white America’s security, and presenting what was the Statue of Liberty frame-up. This was done by projecting that African-American youth attempted to sabotage America’s national shrines. What are the Malcolm X assassination facts?
Malcolm X Assassination Details
Internal Security Wing Framed
Malcolm X’s RAM internal security wing was framed in the Statue of Liberty Bomb Plot.
Of the three men framed, Robert Collier, Walter Bowie, and Khalil Said; Walter Bowie had been in the planning meetings of the OAAU and his wife Nan Bowie was a member of the OAAU. The other man, Khalil Said, a Sunni Muslim was a member of the Muslim Mosque, Inc., OAAU, a previous member of RAM and a part of Malcolm’s internal security which had been co-planned by Malcolm and Stanford.
The second reason the media ran stories (New York Daily News) that claimed that Robert Williams (The RAM International Chairman in exile) was in Canada and had planned the whole conspiracy.
The Malcolm X Assassination “Set-Up”
The “set-up” was the bombing of Malcolm’s house. The white capitalist power structure estimated that if one of the black power organizations would accuse the other, then the “capitalists” would have created a motive for Malcolm’s assassination. It was in this environment, which the “capitalists” prepared for a week, that created an atmosphere for the Malcolm X assassination.
Also, they set it up so that Muhammad could be assassinated and it would look like Malcolm’s forces were pitched against Muhammad’s. In this way, the “capitalists” figured they could use the age-old colonial strategy of “divide and conquer” and “nigger against nigger.” With this, “the capitalists” had planned to either annihilate or discredit nationalist leadership in black America, which would leave only “peaceful accommodationists.” Consequently, who would know when their turn would come?
The Malcolm X Assassination
The assassination was well planned and was obviously (by recent revelations) a conspiracy involving government agencies, the New York Police Department and elements of the Nation of Islam. From reliable sources, there are indications that there were Negro agents hired killers in the audience.
The Malcolm X assassination meant that any African-American who attacks the capitalist power structure directly, or attempts to organize the African-American people around the “truth,” is either assassinated, jailed or forced into exile, even if they receive Nobel Prizes for Peace. The Malcolm X assassination showed that the white capitalist American government is racist.
This brutal, unjust, evil assassination shows that the U.S. government will stop at nothing to keep dehumanized African-Americans enslaved. The Malcolm X assassination was a part of the FBI’s and CIA’s counter insurgency program of destruction of the militant fighting wing of the African-American liberation struggle.
What I learned From Studying Under Malcolm
I saw that Malcolm was a national leader. I also saw that it was almost impossible for him to build a powerful organization because he was under constant surveillance, harassment and other forms of opposition from the white power structure right from the start. Every time someone would come and take a picture of Malcolm, I would step out of the picture. Some people said that I/we (RAM) were paranoid; but, from examining our COINTELPRO documents these tactics and others often worked, throwing the intelligence forces off track.
Lessons Learned from Malcolm X
At times, it was hard for the intelligence forces to identify me because they didn’t have an updated picture of me. So, the first thing the young organizers need to do is avoid pre-mature exposure or publicity before starting their organizing project. Eventually, if you are doing something, you are going to get exposed (publicized).
Build A Disciplined, Multi-Level Organization Before Seeking to Mobilize the Masses
The second is that you can’t mobilize and build a strong foundation for a cadre at the same time. Either the cadre is already there when you begin to mobilize or you have to take time preparing a solid well-grounded cadre with second, third and (if you can) fourth line leadership. We, failed to this in the 60s, and when things got thick we fell apart. Often organizations can be built from militant action, but sustaining the growth process in America has been difficult.
Build A Local Base of Support Before National Expansion
One thing RAM learned too late from Malcolm was to concentrate on forming a strong local base before expanding nationally. Malcolm wanted to build the OAAU in New York first and then expand nationally. RAM/SNCC formed national organizations without having solid bases of prolonged mass support first. Having a solid local base of mass support is worth more than being scattered out all over the place with no support. The 1960’s generation learned that mistake the hard way.
Develop a Way to Finance The Organization
The other question that Malcolm was responding to after he left the Nation of Islam was having independent finances. Besides building organizations, economic self-reliance must be part of activists thinking, organizing plans and styles.
Build A Black United Front
Malcolm was clear that no one group/organization had the strength or ability to liberate the African-American people. He saw the need for operational unity; the building of united and liberation fronts.
Build an Alliance with other People of Color Movements and White Progressives
Malcolm also saw the need to have and work with allies. Many young African-American activists didn’t like Malcolm working so close with SWP (Socialist Workers Party); but they were among the few white Americans who would fairly support him. The organizational form has yet to be worked out for working with allies from all communities; but, this is a priority question in the forth coming period.
The Organization Must Be Relevant to The People’s Needs
What RAM did learn from Malcolm was that the broad mass line and tactics must be in conjunction with the objective needs of the people. That is, while you may create a revolutionary organization, you need a transitional program that African-Americans can relate to in their day-by-day struggles.
Build A Multi-Level Organization Structure
The other thing that was learned from Malcolm is that there should always be more than one level of organization; organize horizontally and vertically and operate on the basis of needing to know only what you need to know; to do your organizing correctly (only on a need to know basis); or as Malcolm would say “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” and “those who say don’t know and those who know don’t say.”
Who is Malcolm X: Conclusion
Malcolm X’s example of attempting to build an all African-American coalition laid the basis for the direction that the African-American movement for empowerment took from his assassination until 1975 and created a pace of development for African-American radical organizations.
Malcolm X Playlist
 William Sales, Jr., From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity [Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1994] pp. 60-61.
 Karl Evanz, The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm [New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1992] pp. 15-16.
 Spike Lee (Movie), also Malcolm X: New York Police Files
 “30 Years Since the Assassination: How the System Killed Malcolm X,” Revolutionary Worker Number 794 (Volume 16, Number 41, February 19, 1995, p. 7
 Op. Cit, (Sales, From Civil Rights to Black Liberation), p. 75
 William S. Sales, Jr., From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity [Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press, 1994] p. 62
 George Brietman (ed) Malcolm X Speaks [New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1965] pp. 38-41
 Interview with Donald Freeman, Cleveland, Ohio 1994
 Malcolm X, February 1965: “The Final Speeches” [New York, Pathfinder Press, 1992], page 48.
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