Category Archives: Historic Black Politics & Figures

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (audiobook)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
(May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family’s eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.

Malcolm’s siblings: (in order of birth) Ella, Earl and Mary (half-siblings from Earl’s previous marriage); Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Reginald and Yvonne.

Rev. Little was found dead in 1931 after being beaten and left on the train tracks, where he was run over by a streetcar. Malcolm was 6 at the time. No one was ever convicted of the crime but his death is widely attributed to the Black Legion. Malcolm’s mother spent the next 26 years in a Kalamazoo mental institution because of the uncertainty and paranoia around her husband’s murder, as well as the stress from her failure to provide for her 6 children at the height of the Great Depression.

Malcolm X was with the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and ’60s, where he worked under NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad expanding the group’s membership among black Americans nationwide. Due largely to his efforts, the NOI grew from 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960.

Malcolm X became the minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and Temple No. 11 in Boston, while also founding temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. In 1960, he established the national newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, in order to further promote the message of the NOI.

In 1963, Malcolm X became disillusioned when he learned that Muhammad had violated his own teachings by carrying on many extramarital affairs. Malcolm’s feelings of betrayal, combined with Muhammad’s anger over Malcolm’s comments regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, led Malcolm leaving the NOI in 1964.

That same year, Malcolm X went on a trip through North Africa and the Middle East. The trip was a turning point in his life. He learned to place the American Civil Rights Movement within the context of a global anti-colonial struggle, embracing socialism and Pan-Africanism. Malcolm X also made the Hajj, the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during which he converted to traditional Islam and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X announced the establishment of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) at a the Audubon Ballroom on June 28, 1964. He had written the group’s charter with John Henrik Clarke, Albert Cleage, Jesse Gray, and Gloria Richardson, among others.

Malcolm X, along with Clarke, wrote the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) Basic Unity Program:

  • Restoration: “In order to release ourselves from the oppression of our enslavers then, it is absolutely necessary for the Afro-American to restore communication with Africa.”
  • Reorientation: “We can learn much about Africa by reading informative books.”
  • Education: “The Organization of Afro-American Unity will devise original educational methods and procedures which will liberate the minds of our children. We will … encourage qualified Afro-Americans to write and publish the textbooks needed to liberate our minds … educating them [our children] at home.”
  • Economic Security: “After the Emancipation Proclamation … it was realized that the Afro-American constituted the largest homogeneous ethnic group with a common origin and common group experience in the United States and, if allowed to exercise economic or political freedom, would in a short period of time own this country. We must establish a technician bank. We must do this so that the newly independent nations of Africa can turn to us who are their brothers for the technicians they will need now and in the future.”
Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

At a speaking engagement in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 three gunmen rushed Malcolm onstage. They shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Fifteen hundred people attended Malcolm’s funeral in Harlem on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child’s Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ). After the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves.

Later that year, Betty gave birth to their twin daughters Malikah & Malaak.

Malcolm’s murderers, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler (Muhammad Abdul Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (Khalil Islam) were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966. The three men were all members of the Nation of Islam.  Aziz was paroled in 1985; Islam was freed in 1987. Hayer (the only murderer that confessed), now known as Thomas Hagan, was freed in 2010. 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley.  Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black pride, black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. After the death of his subject Haley authored the book’s epilogue, which describes their collaboration and summarizes the end of Malcolm X’s life.

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book’s publication regarded Haley as the book’s ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to allow readers to feel as though Malcolm X were speaking directly to them. Haley also influenced some of Malcolm X’s literary choices; for example, when Malcolm X left the Nation Of Islam during the composition of the book, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of “suspense and drama” rather than rewriting earlier chapters into a polemic against the Nation. Furthermore, Haley’s proactive censorship of the manuscript’s antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography, increasing its commercial success and popularity although distorting Malcolm X’s public persona.”
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Tupac Amaru Shakur | Clinton Correctional Facility Interview ~1995

Tupac~ The Lost Prison Tapes

Shakur [June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996] began serving his prison sentence at Clinton Correctional Facility on February 14, 1995.  He was released after serving eleven months of his one-and-a-half year to four-and-a-half year sentence. 

The Lost Prison Tapes presents a uncensored look into Shakur’s life, as he talks about his involvement with gang life to prisons in America to his relationship with his mother and American culture and politics. 

The Lost Prison Tapes’ were released on January 26, 2011.

“Capturing the intensity and passion of a fierce talent, “Tupac ~ Uncensored and Uncut: The Lost Prison Tapes” offers a glimpse inside the mind of the enigmatic artist whose music is, in his own words, “all about life.””

Shakur had sold over 75 million records worldwide as of 2010.  Rolling Stones magazine named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.

Both of his parents- Afeni Shakur and his father, Billy Garland, along with several other family members, were members of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.

On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in Las Vegas, Nevada. He died 6 days later at the University Medical Center. 

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James Rosemond Admits to Tupac Shakur 1994 Shooting Involvement: Report ~ http://www.billboard.com/column/the-juice/james-rosemond-admits-to-tupac-shakur-1994-1007420552.story#/column/the-juice/james-rosemond-admits-to-tupac-shakur-1994-1007420552.story

I shot Tupac Shakur in 1994 robbery on orders of rap manager, claims convicted murderer Dexter Isaac ~ http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-15/gossip/29691900_1_tupac-shakur-james-jimmy-henchman-rosemond-czar-entertainment

Bio ~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupac_Shakur

http://www.amazon.com/Tupac-Uncensored-Uncut-Prison-Tapes/dp/B004KPUL4G

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Martin Luther King more than starry-eyed dreamer

Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

Martin Luther King, Jr. ~ January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

I listen to Martin Luther King’s speeches and sermons over and over again like some people listen to popular songs.

I have my favorites, such as “The Other America,” “Where Do We Go from Here,” “The Drum Major Instinct,” and “How Long, Not Long.” I like these better than “I Have a Dream” because they have more substance.

In “The Drum Major” sermon, King said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve” — regardless of your station in life. In “The Other America” speech, King preached about wasting billions on an “ill-considered war” while neglecting the poor here in America.

When you examine the levels of poverty and unemployment in the nation today, I believe that King would determine that the nation had failed to heed his vision of jobs, justice and peace.

These days it’s hard to compete with the mainstream’s success in making King just a starry-eyed “dreamer” and a commercial commodity.

I was watching a football game during the holiday season when a commercial from one of the major retail chains announcing its MLK Day Sale popped up on the screen. It didn’t even use an image of King, just the initials “MLK,” accompanied by an array of appliances marked down for “the one-day event.”

Looking back to the dedication of the King Memorial on the Mall in Washington this past October, you couldn’t ignore the many corporate sponsors of the monument. The list of supporters was a who’s who of American business — General Motors, Tommy Hilfiger, Verizon, General Electric and Wal-Mart, just to name a few.

Even so, I’m always thankful when Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes around. Whatever the advertisers try to sell you and the politicians try to tell you, King’s message of unconditional love and nonviolent redemptive good and his steadfast attack on the evils of racism, poverty and militarism just cannot be ignored.

They can try to co-opt him, but his image is always going to look odd next to a washing machine or a hamburger or a self-serving politician.

Gray is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. E-mail: pmproj@progressive.org; website: www.progressive.org.

South Carolina, MLK, Black America’s Invisibility

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Kevin Alexander Gray on State Violence and the Murder of Troy Anthony Davis

KPFA FLASHPOINTS

Execution of Justice by Kim Nicolini

With the murder of Troy Anthony Davis by the state of Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a 2009 capital punishment opinion of  conservative associate, Justice Antonin Scalia, in which he ruled: “[T]his court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

Still, the ultimate victory for Troy Davis is that he inspired millions of people – around the world and here in the United States – who want to live in a more peaceful and less violent society. In that regard Troy’s life and murder by the government was not in vain. Sometimes it takes a single incident to shake people up.

Bruce Dixon, managing editor@Black Agenda Report: ” It’s great that so many people signed Troy Davis’s petition and made themselves so visible as opponents of the death penalty. But Troy was clearly and obviously innocent, and imprisoned for decades, ultimately executed anyhow. But until we stand up for the rights of ALL the imprisoned, convicted and formerly convicted, including all those whose innocence, however you construe that word, is not so obvious and those who may in fact not even be innocent —- till we stand for their human rights to education, to health care and a decent chance at life by radically shrinking and ultimately ending the institution of prison the machine that convicts the literally innocent will retain legitimacy and roll on, doing what it does. In other words, coming out to oppose the execution of an obvious innocent person like Troy Davis is low hanging fruit. It’s good that so many are wiling to reach for it. But we will rarely be able to save even these till we de-legitimize the institution of prison and chop down the whole rotten tree.”

Amnesty International

To hear Kevin Alexander Gray’s interview click on header@top of page.  To contribute time or money to organizations working to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. click on any or all of the provided logos.  Click on Kim Nicolini’s artwork of Troy to link to his website which is being maintained by family and friends.  Or start, help start or join an existing anti-death-penalty group.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The struggle continues.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

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11:08

Troy Anthony Davis | October 9, 1968 – September 21, 2011

SEPTEMBER 21, 2011

Troy Anthony Davis’ final words:

“I’d like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent.

The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth.

I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight and to keep the faith.

For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls.”

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“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” | Martin Luther King, Jr.

Delivered 3 April 1968, Mason Temple [Church of God in Christ Headquarters], Memphis, Tennessee

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy in his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world.

I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of picking a general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I’m named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but “fear itself.” But I wouldn’t stop there.

Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.” Continue reading

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Martin Luther King Jr. | Where Do We Go From Here?

Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Atlanta, Georgia
16 August 1967

Now, in order to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?” which is our theme, we must first honestly recognize where we are now. When the Constitution was written, a strange formula to determine taxes and representation declared that the Negro was 60 percent of a person. Today another curious formula seems to declare he is 50 percent of a person. Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites. Of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites. Thus half of all Negroes live in substandard housing. And Negroes have half the income of whites. When we view the negative experiences of life, the Negro has a double share. There are twice as many unemployed. The rate of infant mortality among Negroes is double that of whites and there are twice as many Negroes dying in Vietnam as whites in proportion to their size in the population.

In other spheres, the figures are equally alarming. In elementary schools, Negroes lag one to three years behind whites, and their segregated schools receive substantially less money per student than the white schools. One twentieth as many Negroes as whites attend college. Of employed Negroes, 75 percent hold menial jobs.

This is where we are. Where do we go from here? First, we must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amidst a system that still oppresses us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values. We must no longer be ashamed of being black. The job of arousing manhood within a people that have been taught for so many centuries that they are nobody is not easy.

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