February 21, 2005


Malcolm X: Make it Plan (American Experience, 9pm, PBS)

It is obviously one of history's great unanswerables, but it's always seemed to me that black America and America in general would have been better served had Malcolm X's vision of how to win Civil Rights prevailed rather than Martin Luther King's.

MORE (via Jim Siegel):
Truth about Malcolm X (Stanley Crouch, February 20th, 2005, New York Daily News)

Forty years ago today, Malcolm X was shot down in front of his family and an audience of followers at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. When he died, Malcolm X had been estranged from the Nation of Islam for about a year and had begun to call Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the cult, a liar, a fraud and a womanizer. [...]

Malcolm X proved how vulnerable Negroes were to hearing another Negro put some hard talk on the white man. The long heritage of silence, both in slavery and the redneck South, was so strong that speech became a much more important act than many realized. Martin Luther King Jr. recognized this, observing that many of those who went to hear Malcolm X were less impressed with his ideas than they were with the contemptuous way he spoke to white power.

Since his death, Malcolm X has been elevated from a heckler of the civil rights moment to a civil rights leader - which he never was - and many people now think that he was as important to his moment as King. He was not, and Malcolm X was well aware of this. But in our country, where liberal contempt for black people is boundless, we should not be surprised to see a minor figure lacquered with media "respect" and thrown in the lap of the black community, where he is passed off as a great hero.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2005 4:28 PM

The great mistake of the Civil Rights Movement was failing to grasp that political clout flows from economic power in a democracy, not the other way around. Booker T Washington understood this, but the Black community chose to follow mountebanks like DuBois, Marshall and Wilkins who were content to receive what the 'massa' would give them rather than going out and creating their own prosperity. If Black students in the 50s and 60s had spent more time in Chemistry labs than at segregated lunch counters, the Black community would be far better off today.

Posted by: Bart at February 22, 2005 8:09 AM

"I also have a dream. I dream that one day little black children will beat the living crap out of little white children." --- Malcolm X (as reported by The Onion)

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at February 22, 2005 12:55 PM