I love El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. You may know him as Malcolm X. He is an inspiration to me and one of my role models. I think you should regard him rather highly as well and here are 5 reasons why:
- He loved you too.
I looked for a speech excerpt to try to exemplify this, but I couldn’t find one. Then I realized that I didn’t need to. Malcolm X was threatened constantly throughout the last 2 years of his life, but that never stopped him from campaigning for our rights. Ultimately he was killed because he did NOT stop working for the advancement of others. That kind of sacrifice is the epitome of love.
- He taught people to love themselves.
In grammar school, young Malcolm was discouraged by some of his teachers from pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer. He was told that practicing law was beyond a ni**ers scope. This negative messaging was all too common during the Jim Crow era. Malcolm never missed an opportunity to remind African Americans that we are worthy of love and respect.
- He encouraged/demanded that men stand up for their women.
Misogyny is real. It was even more pervasive in the 60’s. But Malcolm regularly proclaimed, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman…. The only time a Muslim really gets real violent, is when someone goes to molest his woman.”
- He IS a testament to personal reform.
Before Malcolm was a preacher and a champion for human rights, he was a criminal - plain and simple. He found religion within the confines of a federal penitentiary. But just like Job, when he was released, and the protective hedge was removed, he did not go back into a life of crime. He did not curse his god. Instead, he began his work opening mosques and leading people away from vice and toward virtue.
- He was an upright man. In public and in private.
Like many civil rights leaders of the ‘60’s, the CIA had Malcolm X under surveillance for many years. They never found any dirt on him. EVER. The legacy of any leader who denied self to advance others cannot and will not be tarnished by his or her personal shortcomings. I would never cast a disparaging eye nor would I denigrate any civil rights leader who might have had some of his or her skeletons pulled out of the closet by the prying claws of the American government. Yet I think it speaks volumes that Malcolm preached righteousness, and through the meddling of the CIA, we know him to have practiced exactly what he preached.
In America, we are encouraged to venerate celebrities. People cry when musicians die. People follow the comings and goings of movie stars. And more commonly, people adorn themselves with the jerseys of their favorite sports super star. I think that we should honor and revere people like Brother Minister Malcolm. Do so and think about the sacrifice, the love, and the values that this man lived and died for.