By Moses Kamuiru.
On one afternoon of February the 21st in 1965, Malcolm X took the stage and delivered the traditional Muslim greeting As-Salaam Alaikum Arabic for peace be unto you in Audubon Ballroom in New York City to a crowd that had come to hear his speech. However, a man with a short gun and two co-conspirators with handguns delivered fatal shots to Malcolm, and in under half an hour, he had succumbed to his wounds at age 39. Here are some facts about a man who unlike his fellow civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. urged blacks to fight racism by any means necessary. Today being his birthday, let us look at some of the things that characterized Malcolm X.
He always moved around as a youth
Malcolm X spent very little time in Omaha, despite that being the town where he was born before his family uprooted. He would live in Milwaukee, then to East Chicago, Indiana and finally to Michigan in a city called Lansing where his father was killed. Not after so long that his mother suffered a nervous breakdown and was moved to a mental institution and Malcolm was split from his now parentless siblings by welfare officials. Malcolm X was sent to a juvenile detention where he attended a nearly all-white high school in Mason, Michigan about 10 miles south of Lansing.
White Supremacists may have murdered his father.
Malcolm’s parents faced constant threats from white supremacists because they were vocal supporters of the Pan African Leader Marcus Garvey. For instance, just before Malcolm’s birth, armed men of the Ku Klux Klan rode out of their house in Omaha, Nebraska and shattered all their windows and another of their home was burned down years later. When Malcolm X was six, his father went out to collect a debt only to be hit by a streetcar and mortally wounded. Although the authorities determined his death to be an accident, Blacks in the town believed that the Black Legion beat him and placed him on the tracks to be run over.
He Opposed Integration
While an Islam, Malcolm would often refer to mainstream civil rights activists as Uncle Toms considering them as fools to think that the White in America would ever give them equality willingly. When King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington, Malcolm referred to it as the “Farce on Washington.” He was a firm believer in the strict separation of the races to the extent of once getting into secret negotiations with the Ku Klux Klan. After making a religious pilgrimage to Mecca, Malcolm X would move away from black separatism and whole denunciation of the whites and instead embraced a more humanistic approach to fighting segregation.
The FBI Followed His Every Move
Once a prisoner in 1950, Malcolm X wrote a letter to the President Harry Truman in which he opposed the Korean War and declared himself a Communist. This brought the attention of the FBI which began to observe him until his death. The agency explored the possibilities of whether Malcolm had violated the Logan Act, which bans citizens from unauthorized negotiations with a foreign government. An FBI informant called him a man of high moral character due to the way he lived his post-prison life which made it hard for the agency to discredit him with the charges.
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