“The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X
Today, May 19th, 2014 we say Happy Birthday to Brother Malcolm X, one of the world’s “brightest hopes” as he is “extinguished now, and gone from us forever…unconquered still. (Ossie Davis–Malcolm X’s Eulogy).”
As is the case with hindsight, we never really understand the blessing of a treasure until it has seeped from within our grasp, been moved from within our reach, or taken away from us too soon. We often refer to this as missed opportunity. In regards to man, we really only know of their value in death. Such is the case with Malcolm X.
So much of Malcolm X, “our living Black manhood” was lost in the media’s coverage of him as a controversial figure. In the media, Malcolm X is militant, angry, and violent. And, he is never a man.
In the media he is also an agitator rather than a self-help guru–today I suppose even Oprah Winfrey and OWN TV would be doing a Master Class on him because of his ability to help each of us to live our best lives. He is the soul of our Sundays as we reflect on the true meaning of life, but he is also the weekend fever that makes us active, involved and responsive.
In the media, soundbites are used to express the totality of his life, but beyond the camera lens, Malcolm’s total life is an example of transformation, introspection, resilience and the full human experience.
Malcolm X is a mountain.
The media has hijacked his image and taken his words to create him as polarizing to the success of human excellence. But we must know and project him differently. We must know that although Malcolm X did not have the formal education that we revere in our leaders, the invaluable education of accountability and service he taught is as priceless as his precious life.
Today on his birth, Google chose to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Rubic’s Cube–a three-dimensional combination puzzle by its Hungarian namesake used to challenge our brains on the myriad ways in which to get all of the same colors on one side of this movable block.
The most puzzling thing to me, however, is how we can continue to deny Malcolm X–this “black shining prince” Ossie Davis described as a man “who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”
As long as we have access to smartphones and social media and pens and paper, we are the media. We have the power to shape our heroes in the ways in which they should be viewed–we have the ability to tell their truths; and, we also have the power to write them back into places in which they have been erased. After all, it was Malcolm X who said:
“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
If we choose to hate Malcolm X, we choose to hate an everyday man with the extraordinary courage to stand up to white supremacy, institutional racism and maintain / assert his manhood with the best of integrity–something that each of us is equipped to do.
I choose to celebrate this sphinx of a man.
He is love.
He is light.
And, I love him so.
Read Ossie Davis’ full eulogy below:
“Here–at this final hour, in this quiet place–Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes–extinguished now, and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought–his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are–and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again–in Harlem–to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought for her, and have defended her honor even to the death.
There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain–and we will smile. Many will say turn away from this man, for he is a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the Black man–and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate–a fanatic, a racist–who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us–unconquered still. Afro-American Malcolm was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a “Negro” years ago. It had become too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted–so desperately–that all his people would become Afro-Americans too.
Malcolm was our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: “My journey,” he says, “is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.” However we may have differed with him–or with each other about him–let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now.
Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man–but a seed–which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is, our own black shining Prince!–who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.” ~Mr. Ossie Davis, February 27th, 1965 delivered at the Faith Temple Church of God.
For more information on Ossie Davis feelings toward Malcolm X, go to: Ossie Davis and Democracy Now
“sphinx of a man”….indeed. awesome piece sis
Thank you VERY much for reading and sharing!!!
Thank you Zykiyyah. Especially thank you for sharing Ossie Davis’ words. Our young people need to get to know Malcolm X for themselves. In every fight for justice we can hear the words of Malcolm X. Every time I tell a young person who they are and how powerful they can be my thoughts come from Malcolm X. He is the foundation for the modern day revolution of resistance against oppression.
Thank you Julie for responding to this post. I always look forward to your input. 😉
well I’m learning about Malcolm X for a project that me and my class are doing , all this information is great . It helps a lot and it gives me a lot of the answer needed in the project . Malcolm X is great . But knowing that he died is really sad cause he knew all the stuff he did was rite . The more information about Malcolm x is exciting !
Thank you for reading this post and for your response! Good luck on your project and continue to read and study! Malcolm X’s life is indeed exciting and testament to the strength of the human will.