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Today many around the world are honoring the birth anniversary of Brother Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Even the government that hated and plotted on his life made commemorative stamps years ago and corporate America has even commercialized his legacy.

I first read a book about Malcolm X as a freshman in high school titled Malcolm X on Afro-American History. It is a collection of many of the speeches he had delivered.

 

 

I learned a lot from that book and it was one of the first times in my life that I had read about the true and rich history of Black people before we were made into slaves. This was something I was not being taught in my history classes. I was blown away and shared the book with many of my classmates! They read it gladly.

Then the movie Malcolm X came out in theatres and soon all of my friends started wearing ‘X’ shirts, hats, bracelets, handbags, etc. They felt they were ‘down with the cause’, ‘revolutionary’ and ‘conscious’ because they paid their money to see the movie.

Also many hip-hop artists started using his messages in their albums but my classmates were only moved by the beat and not by his words. Not like when Public Enemy or Poor Righteous Teachers used his words to move the masses to action….my friends used Malcolm X as the latest fad.

I then offered to them that Malcolm X is bigger than a t-shirt or any rap song that used his sound bites and challenged them to BE like him. They didn’t want to hear me.

Under the leadership of Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X successfully cleaned up his life in prison, lived an upright lifestyle, put down drugs, put down guns, read every book in the prison library, ate one meal a day, became a prolific speaker, did not smoke, fasted, prayed, defeated scholars in all debates, was a guest speaker at all Ivy league schools, challenge the powers of America, became an international figure, spoke out against injustice in the community, crisscrossed America weekly in his car to teach people about themselves and cleaned up people in the streets……and he only went to the 8th grade!

Malcolm became this type of man despite losing his father at the age of 13, having his mother committed to a mental hospital, drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, and overseeing prostitutes. He was an example of how any person can transform their lives and become a giant when given a chance. But how many organizations would have truly took in this ex-con and cleaned him up? How many today?

So if you think that you’re commemorating his life by making a rap song with excerpts of his speeches, writing a poem, wearing a medallion, rocking a t-shirt, busting shots in the air or even coordinating an intellectual panel discussion full of people who don’t do anything for the masses, you have his life confused.

If you want to celebrate the birth of Malcolm X let’s:

·        Go into the streets to teach our young people to stop killing one another so we won’t lose another 21-year-old like rapper Dolla

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