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Today in Literature

May 19, 2009

19 May 1925:  Influential Civil Rights leader Malcolm X ( Malcolm Little) was born on this date.  Though deeply involved in drugs and crime as a youth, Malcolm X converted to Islam while in prison and was largely responsible for the explosive popularity of the Nation of Islam in the US.  Often labeled as a militant black activist, he served as the face and voice of Elijah Muhammad and his Nation of Islam.

For most of his life as an activist, Malcolm X was opposed to the greater portion of the Civil Rights movement.  He called the 1963 March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and others, ‘The Farce on Washington,’ lamenting that the anger and dissatisfaction of the black community was being exploited by the white political establishment and that most of the Civil Rights leaders were being used the Kennedy administration to quell any potential uprising.

Later in his life, after separating with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X opened up to the idea of working alongside other Civil Rights leaders.  It is my belief that, had they both lived longer, the politics and practices of Malcolm X and Dr. King would have dovetailed, but that is simply my own speculation.

Having recently read Malcolm X’s autobiography, I will never think of the word aardvark the same way again.  His absolute thirst for knowledge is empowering and, wow, what an amazing orater he was.

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