February 21, 2003

THE GREATEST LOSS:

-OBIT: Malcolm X Shot to Death at Rally Here Malcolm Knew He Was a 'Marked Man' (Theodore Jones, 2/21/03, NY Times)
I live like a man who's already dead," Malcolm X said last Thursday in a two-hour interview in the Harlem office of his Organization for Afro-American Unity.

"I'm a marked man," he said slowly as he fingered the horn-rimmed glasses he wore and leaned forward to give emphasis to his words. "It doesn't frighten me for myself as long as I felt they would not hurt my family."

Asked about "they," Malcolm smiled, shook his head, and said, "those folks down at 116th Street and that man in Chicago."

The references, Malcolm quickly confirmed, were to his former associates in the Black Muslim movement and to Elijah Muhammad, the organizer and head of the movement. Before Malcolm X left the movement 18 months ago, he was the minister of the Black Muslim's Harlem mosque at 116th Street and Lenox Avenue.

"No one can get out with out trouble," Malcolm continued, "and this thing with me will be resolved by death and violence."

Why were they after him? "Because I'm me," he replied.


It's always seemed to me that the loss of Brother Malcolm was the most significant of the 60s--more than either Kennedy or Martin Luther King--because he was the one who was capable of thinking outside the box and had shown such personal growth before his murder. If his haj to Mecca really had the tranformative effect on his previously racist thinking that he claimed it did and if he'd maintained his message of self-help and self-improvement imagine how much different the past thirty years of black history might have been. Suppose that instead of, like Jesse Jackson, mau-mauing Washington for special privileges and benefits, the most charismatic black leader in America had demanded of blacks that they raise themselves up? Could black society be any worse off than it is today and mightn't it be much healthier? Posted by Orrin Judd at February 21, 2003 7:37 PM
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