Fast forward to 2016. I have read everything I've ever seen produced on Malcolm X. Some of these works are pretty good. Oba Shaka's "The Political Legacy of Malcolm X" and "From Civil Rights to Black Liberation" by William Sales stand out for some reason, but my favorites are the books of Malcolm's speeches. Especially "The Final Speeches of Malcolm X (not to be confused with "The Last Speeches of Malcolm X)." The Final Speeches book is literally that. The last eleven speeches Malcolm made before his murder. Anyone can verify that these speeches do actually constitute the last speeches Malcolm made and if one does that, and studies those speeches, its clear that Malcolm's orientation at the time of death was not to return to the Nation of Islam. It was not to start another Black nationalist organization in the U.S. It was to become more firmly rooted in the worldwide Pan-African struggle with socialism as the objective. I strongly encourage all reading this to study all of those works, especially the books of Malcolm's speeches because most of the popular information on Malcolm, like Spike Lee's 1992 movie, are worthless in terms of providing any depth and comprehensive understanding of Malcolm's actual life and work. Although I completely despise it, I even encourage you to read Manning Marable's "Malcolm X - A Reinvention" from 2011. This book is promoted as the most prolific of all of the biographies on Malcolm, but I found it to be wrought with unproven allegations and innuendo as well as a healthy dose of Marable attempting to impose his politics on Malcolm's legacy. Still, you should read it. And my point for going through that is it should be obvious by now that I take Malcolm X pretty seriously. And, everything that comes out about him, from the ill advised postal stamp to the various clothing bearing his likeness and words, I try to stay on top of it so that an assessment and critique can be made. I believe this is important, because I don't trust most of the sources/forces I see attempting to speak with authority on Malcolm today.
Every year on May 19th - his born day - and February 21st - his martyr day - I find myself being hyper vigilant. With the experience and hopefully wisdom I've gained over the years, I think I understand why I'm that way. I've found that any genuine expression of African liberation is subject to attack by this backward system and Malcolm is about as genuine as you can get. The capitalist system, if it gets its way, will have you thinking that Malcolm was on his way to becoming a spokesperson for GM products or State Farm Insurance if you don't know better (and sooner or later, if not already, some of us won't). I don't agree with Ossie Davis's eulogy. I don't believe Malcolm was anyone's shinning prince. Malcolm was our conscious. He was our internal voice sparking, pushing, and challenging us to wake up and organize for our liberation. He was that 50 years ago and he remains that today. This is why he is just as relevant in 2016 as he was in 1966. And, he will continue to remain relevant because his analysis hit the nail on the head in terms of what we need to do in order to march forward to victory. His perspectives and analogies about the Democratic and Republican Parties as they relate to African people. His searing condemnation of the U.S. political apparatus and it's hypocrisy as it relates to supporting and implementing repression against African people. His early and clever support for the Cuban revolution. His admiration and political connection to Pan-Africanist leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and Sekou Ture. His uncompromising support for revolutionary struggle as the means in which we will achieve our liberation. His courageous anti-zionist position. And his clear and precise assessment of our African identity - "when a cat has kittens in an oven you don't call them biscuits! We are still Africans!" Brilliant! Malcolm also rose up the contributions of African women, very honestly and forthrightly speaking about the women who influenced his life. From his mother Louise Little to his sister Ella Collins to Shirley Graham DuBois (the widow of W.E.B. DuBois) in Ghana, Malcolm always wrote and spoke with great reverence for these women who challenged him to push to achieve his full potential. This is even more remarkable if you understand that Malcolm had to overcome an early distrust and disrespect for women that could be heard very clearly in his early Nation of Islam speeches in the 50s, but he worked hard to fight through that dysfunction and that serves as yet another example of his commitment to moving forward. For all of those, Malcolm gave us the framework that we have had the benefit of building upon for our work for the last 50 years. So, on his born day today, to you he may just be another figure in history. To me, he is my ideological father. My inspiration. My hope for the type of work I want to engage in going forward. He may be gone to you, but to me, his impact is eternal. And because of this, we will defend him and his legacy to our fullest potential and abilities. So, every day marked for Malcolm like today, we will leave our mark. And, every other day we will do the same. We refuse to let our enemies write our history. Malcolm was a revolutionary. And he understood there is no revolution without organization. When he left the Nation of Islam he started two organizations; the Muslim Mosque Inc. and the Organization of Afro American Unity (patterned after Nkrumah's Organization of African Unity). So, if you want to emulate Malcolm's model, you don't have to go to the extremes that I have, but you do need to follow his example. You can't claim Malcolm if you are not in an organization fighting for justice. You can't claim Malcolm if you are more of a problem than you are a solution. And you can't claim Malcolm the revolutionary if you are too lazy to actually find out what revolution actually is. Malcolm was about action. I've heard him imploring me to act for the last almost 40 years and history will record that I've responded to his call to the best of my ability. And, if you train yourself to listen closely enough, you will hear him too.