Malcolm X needs no introduction. You have heard the name. You have seen the pictures, read the quotes. Some might have even read the books & seen the movie. Most people know something about Malcolm X. Most of us have developed an opinion of Malcolm X that’s suits us.(We do this with all great characters throughout history.) Often times this opinion is shaped by the (mis)information that is made available to us. I can almost guarantee that the Malcolm X you were introduced to, is not the same person that was killed in the Audubon Ballroom on February 21,1965. More than likely the Malcolm you were introduced to, ceased to exist after his Pilgrimage to Mecca in September 1964. The Malcolm X you were introduced to was a puppet for Elijah Muhammad. Some might say a borderline racist. A man that believed that Elijah Muhammad was infallible. A man that spent the better years of his life spreading Elijah Muhammad’s twisted message. You don’t believe me? The quotes below are from Malcolm X himself:
“I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat & under someone else’s control. I feel that what I’m thinking & saying is now for myself. Before it was for & by the guidance of Elijah Muhammad. Now I think with my own mind,sir!”
Malcolm lost faith in Elijah Muhammad in 1963. He learned of Elijah Muhammad’s many relationships with the women in the Nation of Islam. Some of these relationships produced children. Elijah Muhammad wanted Malcolm to keep the matter a secret. When Malcolm refused, their relationship changed forever. Malcolm was deeply hurt by Muhammad’s deception. He felt he was tricked & also felt guilty about the people he had led astray.
“The thing that you have to understand about those of us in the Black Muslim movement was that all of us believed 100 percent in the divinity of Elijah Muhammad. We believed in him. We actually believed that God, in Detroit by the way, that God taught him & all of that. I always believed that he believed in himself. And I was shocked when I found out that he himself didn’t believe it.”
“…. I shall never rest until I have undone the harm I did to so many well-meaning, innocent Negroes who through my own evangelistic zeal now believe in him(Elijah Muhammad) even more fanatically & more blindly than I did.”
Elijah Muhammad & the Nation of Islam had to find a way to keep Malcolm X in check . They got that opportunity in November 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. A reporter asked Malcolm how he felt about Kennedy’s assassination. In response, Malcolm gave his now infamous ‘Chickens Coming Home To Roost’ quote.
“President Kennedy never foresaw that the chickens would come home to roost so soon….Being an old farm boy myself,chickens coming home to roost never did make me sad; they always made me glad.”
Malcolm received heavy criticism for his comments about Kennedy’s assassination & was also ‘silenced’ for 90 days by Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm always felt that he was silenced for another reason. If you take into account the nature of the organization & what was happening at the time, he might have been on to something. In March of 1964, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam & started his new organization, Muslim Mosque,Inc.
Wanting to experience true Islam, Malcolm made the pilgrimage to Mecca (A requirement of all able-bodied male Muslims). This was also an aspect of Islam, the Nation of Islam didn’t view with much importance. It was during this pilgrimage that the new Malcolm X emerged. While in Mecca, Malcolm interacted with Muslims of different races. He made specific note of the White men he came in contact with, “We were truly the same (brothers) – because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, & the white from their attitude”. Malcolm wrote a letter to his assistants back home in America. This letter shows the emergence of the new Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was a changed man when he returned from Mecca. His views & philosophies were different. He was still fiery Malcolm but his eyes were now open & he had a new mission. He was miles away from the Malcolm White America loved to hate. He was miles away from that borderline racist Malcolm.
“I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism & segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, & that all human beings should be respected as such, regardless of their color.”
He was a changed man, but that was not the man they wanted us to know. It is not too late to get to know the real Malcolm X for yourself. You can start by reading his Letter From Mecca below.
Malcolm X’s (Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) Letter from Mecca
THE PILGRIMAGE TO MAKKAH
Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.
I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.
There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.
America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white – but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.
During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.
We were truly all the same (brothers) – because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.
I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man – and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their ‘differences’ in color.
With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called ‘Christian’ white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster – the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.
Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities – he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the walls and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth – the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.
Never have I been so highly honored. Never have I been made to feel more humble an unworthy. Who would believe the blessings that have been heaped upon an American Negro? A few nights ago, a man who would be called in America a white man, a United Nations diplomat, an ambassador, a companion of kings, gave me his hotel suite, his bed. Never would I have even thought of dreaming that 1 would ever be a recipient of such honors – honors that in America would be bestowed upon a King – not a Negro.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.
Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X)
Part 2 – Malcolm X: Our Shining Black Prince