19 May 2006

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

From Wikipedia:

Malcolm X, (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), born Malcolm Little, also known as Detroit Red, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and Omowale was a National Spokesman for the Nation of Islam and an African American Muslim Leader. He was also founder of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity.

During his life, Malcolm went from being a promising young student to a street-wise Boston hoodlum to one of the most prominent black nationalist leaders in the United States to a martyr of Islam. As a militant leader, Malcolm X advocated black pride, economic self-reliance, and identity politics. He ultimately rose to become a world renowned African American/Pan-Africanist and human rights activist.

Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City on February 21, 1965 on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.

His Name
He explained the name he chose by saying, "To take one's 'X' is to take on a certain mystery, a certain possibility of power in the eyes of one's peers and one's enemies ... The 'X'; announced what you had been and what you had become: Ex-smoker, Ex-drinker, Ex-Christian, Ex-slave." [citation needed]

The 'X' also stood for the unknown original surname of the slaves from whom Malcolm X descended, in preference to continuing to use a name which would have been given by the slave owner. This rationale made many members of the Nation of Islam change their surnames to X.

Birth and Early Years
Young Malcolm XMalcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Earl Little and Louise Norton. His father, an outspoken Baptist lay preacher and supporter of Marcus Garvey, was believed to have been killed by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group in Lansing, Michigan in 1931. His Grenadian mother was also an avid Garveyite, and did reporting work for Garvey's organizational publication. Malcolm and his siblings had been split up and sent to different foster homes when Louise Little was declared legally insane. In 1939, she was formally committed to the State Mental Hospital at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and remained there until Malcolm and his brothers and sisters got her released twenty-six years later.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X and local folklore held that, following the death of his father, he lived as a boy on Charles Street in downtown East Lansing. However, the 1930 U.S. Census (released in 2002) reports him living on a completely different Charles Street, in the low-income Urbandale neighborhood in Lansing Township, between Lansing and East Lansing. Later, while in high school, he lived in Mason, an almost-all-white small town twelve miles to the south.

Malcolm graduated from junior high school at the top of his class, but dropped out soon after an admired teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were "no realistic goal for a nigger"(The Autobiography of Malcolm X p.43). After enduring a series of foster homes, Malcolm was first sent to a detention center and then later moved to Boston to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins.

He found work as a shoe-shiner at a Lindy Hop nightclub; in his autobiography, he says that he once shined the shoes of Duke Ellington and other notable black musicians. Malcom went by the nickname "Detroit Red" because the color of his hair. After some time, he moved to New York City, where, in Harlem, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, pimping, racketeering, and robbery (referred to collectively by Malcolm as "hustling"). When he was examined for the World War II draft, military physicians classified him to be "mentally disqualified for military service." He explains in his autobiography that, putting on a display to avoid the draft, he told the examining officer that he couldn't wait to get his hands on a gun so he could "kill some crackers". His approach worked, and he was given a classification that ensured he would not be drafted.

In 1945, Malcolm X fled from Harlem after a falling out with a fellow hustler and returned to Boston to live with his sister. In February 1946, he was arrested for robbery, convicted, and sentenced to seven years in prison. It was in prison that, at the suggestion of his brother, Malcolm X began his correspondance with Elijah Muhammad. This would transform his life, and he formally converted to Islam while still in prison. After being paroled in 1952, Malcolm X took the X surname that would identify him for the rest of his life. He said it was a symbollic indicator of an African name stolen from him that he would never know. He began working for the Nation of Islam under the guidance of Elijah Muhammad.

In 1958 Malcolm married Betty X (née Sanders) in Lansing, Michigan. They had six daughters together, all of whom carried the surname of Shabazz. Their names were Attallah (also spelled Attillah), born in 1958; Qubilah, born in 1960; Ilyasah, born in 1962; Gamilah (also spelled Gumilah), born in 1964; and twins, Malaak and Malikah, born after Malcolm's death in 1965.

Religious Leadership and FameIn 1954, Malcolm X was selected to lead the Nation of Islam's mosque #7 on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. He rapidly expanded its membership, and the mosque reached a total membership of about 30,000 under his guidance. He also founded mosques in Philadelphia and Boston.

Malcolm X was a compelling public speaker, and was frequently sought after for quotations by the print media, radio, and television programs from around the world. In the years between his adoption of the Nation of Islam in 1952 and his split with the organization in 1964, he always espoused the Nation's teachings, including referring to whites as "devils" who had been created in a misguided breeding program by a black scientist, and predicting the inevitable (and imminent) return of blacks to their natural place at the top of the social order.

In the early 1960s, Malcolm was increasingly exposed to rumors of Elijah Muhammad's extramarital affairs with young secretaries. Adultery is severely shunned in the teachings of the Nation of Islam. At first, Malcolm brushed these rumors aside. Later he spoke with the women making the accusations and believed them. In 1963, Elijah Muhammad himself confirmed to Malcolm that the rumors were true, and claimed that this followed a pattern established by biblical prophets. Despite being unsatisfied with the excuses, and being disenchanted by other ministers using Nation of Islam funds to line their own pockets[citation needed], Malcolm's faith in Elijah Muhammad did not waver.

By the summer of 1963, tensions within the Nation of Islam reached a boiling point. Malcolm believed that Elijah Muhammad was jealous of his popularity (as were several senior ministers). Malcolm watched the March on Washington critically, unable to understand why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive"[citation needed]. Later in the year, following the John F. Kennedy assassination, Malcolm delivered a speech as he regularly would. However, when asked to comment upon the assassination, he replied that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost"[citation needed] — that the violence that Kennedy had failed to stop (and at times refused to rein in) had come around to claim his life. Most explosively, he then added that with his rural origins, "Chickens coming home to roost never made me sad. It only made me glad"[citation needed]. This comment led to widespread public outcry and led to the Nation of Islam's publicly censuring Malcolm X. Although retaining his post and rank as minister, he was banned by Elijah Muhammad from public speaking for ninety days. Malcolm obeyed and kept silent.

In the spring of 1963, Malcolm started collaborating on The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley. He also publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam on March 8, 1964 and the founding of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. on March 12, 1964. At this point, Malcolm mostly adhered to the teachings of the Nation of Islam, but began modifying them, explicitly advocating political and economic black nationalism as opposed to the NOI's exclusivist religious nationalism. In March and April, he made the series of famous speeches called "The Ballot or the Bullet" [citation needed]. Malcolm was in contact with several orthodox Muslims, who encouraged him to learn about orthodox Islam. He soon converted to orthodox Islam, and as a result decided to make his Hajj.

On April 13, 1964, Malcolm departed JFK Airport, New York for Cairo, Egypt by way of Frankfurt, Germany. It was the second time Malcolm had been to Africa. Malcolm left Cairo, arriving in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at about three in the morning. He was automatically suspect due to his inability to speak Arabic and his United States passport. He was separated from the group he came with and was isolated. He spent about 20 hours wearing the ihram, a two-piece garment comprised of two white unhemmed sheets--the first of which is worn draped over the torso and the second of which (the bottom) is secured by a belt.

It was at this time he remembered the book The Eternal Message of Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam and which Dr. Mahmoud Yousseff Sharwabi had presented to him with his visa approval. He called Azzam's son who arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam's home he met Azzam Pasha who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel. The next morning Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal, visited and informed him that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm to the Hajj Court.

It therefore was a mere formality for Sheikh Muhammad Harkon to allow Malcolm to make his Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). On April 19 he completed the Umrah, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba, drinking from the well of Zamzam and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times.

The trip proved to be life-altering. Malcolm met many devout Muslims of a number of different races, men whose faith and whose practice of Islam he couldn't help but respect. He believed that racial barriers could potentially be overcome, and that Islam was the one religion that conceivably could erase all racial problems.

A Changed Man
On May 21, 1964, he returned to the United States as a traditional Sunni Muslim (and with a new name — El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz).

When Malcolm returned to the United States, he gave a speech about his visit. This time he gave a much larger meaning and message than before. The speech was not only for the Muslims, instead it was for the whole nation and for all races. He said,

"Human rights are something you were born with. Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth."
"In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again — as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks."
"Since I learned the truth in Mecca my dearest friends have come to include all kinds — some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, socialists, and communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists — some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!" [1]
Along with A. Peter Bailey and others, El-Shabazz then founded the U. S. branch of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Patterned after the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Africa's continental organization, which was established at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May 1963, the OAAU resolved to establish a non-religious and non-sectarian program for human rights. The OAAU included all people of African ancestry in the Western Hemisphere, as well as those on the African continent.

Malcolm X visited Africa on three separate occasions, once in 1959 and twice in 1964. During his visits, he met officials, as well as spoke on television and radio in: Cairo, Egypt; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Dar Es Salaam, Tanganyika (now Tanzania); Lagos and Ibadan, Nigeria; Accra, Winneba, and Legon, Ghana; Conakry, Guinea; Algiers, Algeria; and Casablanca, Morocco.

Malcolm first went to Africa in summer of 1959. He traveled to Egypt (United Arab Republic), Sudan, Nigeria and Ghana to arrange a tour for Elijah Muhammad, which occurred in December 1959. The first of Malcolm's two trips to Africa in 1964 lasted from April 13 until May 21. On May 8, following his speech at Trenchard Hall on the campus of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, he attended a reception in the Students' Union Hall held for him by the Muslim Students' Society. During this reception the students bestowed upon him the name "Omowale" (Oh-Moh-wah-lay), meaning "the son returns home" in the Yoruba language.

Malcolm returned to New York from Africa via Paris, France, on May 21, 1964. On July 9, he again left the United States for Africa, spending a total of 18 weeks abroad. On July 17, 1964, Malcolm addressed the Organization of African Unity's first ordinary assembly of heads of state and governments in Cairo as a representative of the OAAU. On August 21, 1964, he made a press statement on behalf of the OAAU regarding the second African summit conference of the OAU. In it, he explained how a strong and independent "United States of Africa" is a victory for the awakening of African Americans. By the time he returned to the United States on November 24, 1964, Malcolm had established an international connection between Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora.

However, Malcolm never changed his views that Black people in the U.S. were justified in defending themselves from their White aggressors. On June 28, 1964 at the founding rally of the OAAU he said, "The time for you and me to allow ourselves to be brutalized nonviolently has passed. Be nonviolent only with those who are nonviolent to you. And when you can bring me a nonviolent racist, bring me a nonviolent segregationist, then I'll get nonviolent. But don't teach me to be nonviolent until you teach some of those crackers to be nonviolent." [citation needed]

Visiting the UK
On 12 February 1965 Malcolm X visited Smethwick, near Birmingham, which had become a byword for racial division after the 1964 general election when the Conservative Party won the parliamentary seat using the slogan, amongst others, "If you want a nigger for your neighbour, vote Labour" [1]. He visited a pub with a non-colored policy, and purposely visited a street where the local council would buy houses and sell them to white families, to avoid black families moving in. He was accused of stirring up racial hatred in the area. [citation needed]


Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine and pulling back the curtains to peer out of a window. This photograph is a popular image on T-shirts and often appears with the slogan "By any means necessary."On March 20, 1964, Life magazine published a famous photograph of Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine and pulling back the curtains to peer out of a window. The photo was taken in connection with Malcolm's declaration that he would defend himself from the daily death threats which he and his family were receiving. Undercover FBI informants warned officials that Malcolm X had been marked for assassination. One officer undercover with the Nation of Islam is said to have reported that he had been ordered to help plant a bomb in Malcolm's car.

Tensions increased between Malcolm and the Nation of Islam. It was alleged that orders were given by members of the Nation of Islam leadership to kill Malcolm; in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he says that as early as 1963, a member of the Seventh Temple confessed to him having received orders from the Nation of Islam to kill him. The NOI sued to reclaim Malcolm's home in Queens, which they claimed to have paid for, and won. He appealed, and was angry at the thought that his family might soon have no place to live. Then, on the night of February 14, 1965, the house was firebombed. Malcolm and his family survived, and no one was charged in the crime.

A week later on February 21 in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm had just begun delivering a speech when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400. A man yelled, "Get your hand outta my pocket! Don't be messin' with my pockets!" As Malcolm's bodyguards rushed forward to attend to the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot Malcolm in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other men quickly charged towards the stage and fired handguns at Malcolm, who was shot 16 times. Angry onlookers in the crowd caught and beat the assassins as they attempted to flee the ballroom. The 39-year-old Malcolm was pronounced dead on arrival at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. He was killed by the shotgun blasts, the other bullets having been directed into his legs.

Although a police report once existed stating that two men were detained in connection with the shooting, that report disappeared, and the investigation was inconclusive. Two suspects were named by witnesses — Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson — however both were known as Nation of Islam agents and would have had difficulty entering the ballroom on that evening.

Three men were eventually charged in the case. Talmadge Hayer confessed to having fired shots into Malcolm's body, but he testified that Butler and Johnson were not present and were not involved in the shooting. All three were convicted.

A complete examination of the assassination and investigation is available in The Smoking Gun: The Malcolm X Files, a collection of primary sources relating to the assassination.

According to The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, approximately 30,000 mourners filed past the casket of Malcolm X to pay their respects. The funeral took place on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child's Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ). Ossie Davis, alongside Ahmed Osman, delivered a stirring eulogy, describing Malcolm as "Our shining black prince". At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves. Malcolm X was buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.

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"We Didn't Land On Plymouth Rock..."

We could really use Brother Malcolm here with us today, he would call Bu$h and the Neo-Cons out on all of their dirty games...



Malcolm X, "It shall be the ballot or the bullet," Speech, Washington Heights, NY, March 29, 1964.


It is very very heartening and encouraging for me to see so many of our people take time to come out, especially on Easter Sunday night. You and I are not a people who are used to going anywhere on Easter night--or on Easter Sunday night--to hear anything to do with African-Americans, or so-called Negroes.

One of the reasons that it is bad for us to continue to just refer to ourselves as the so-called Negro, that's negative. When we say so-called Negro that's pointing out what we aren't, but it isn't telling us what we are. We are Africans, and we happen to be in America. We are not Americans. We are a people who formerly were Africans who were kidnaped and brought to America. Our forefathers weren't the Pilgrims. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock; the rock was landed on us. We were brought here against our will; we were not brought here to be made citizens. We were not brought here to enjoy the constitutional gifts that they speak so beautifully about today. Because we weren't brought here to be made citizens--today, now that we've become awakened to some degree, and we begin to ask for those things which they say are supposedly for all Americans, they look upon us with a hostility and unfriendliness.

So our unwanted presence--the fact that we are unwanted is becoming magnified in all of America's preachments today and the only way that we who are...[interruption]

The first step for those of us who believe in the philosophy of Black Nationalism is to realize that the problem begins right here. The first problem is right here. We have to elevate our thinking right here first--not just the thinking of a handful, that won't do it. But the thinking of 22 million black people in this country must be elevated. They must be made to see it as we see it. They must be made to think as we think, and then they'll be ready to act just as we're ready to act.

The black nationalists don't realize this. The black nationalists will fail as other groups have failed. Any philosophy that you have that can't be implemented is no good. A "preaching" or a gospel is no better than its ability to be carried out in a manner that will make it beneficial to the people who accept it.

When you have a philosophy or a gospel--I don't care whether it's a religious gospel, a political gospel, an economic gospel or a social gospel--if it's not going to do something for you and me right here and right now--to hell with that gospel! In the past, most of the religious gospels that you and I have heard have benefitted only those who preach it. Most of the political gospels that you and I have heard have benefitted only the politicians. The social gospels have benefitted only the sociologists.

You and I need something right now that's going to benefit all of us. That's going to change the community in which we live, not try to take us somewhere else. If we can't live here, we never will live somewhere else.

Number one: Why is it so difficult to get so many of our people in this country interested in going to Africa? And I have to point this out because today the entire question has reached a new level of thought. There was a time when you talked about going to Africa, and you heard about it out on the corner--125th Street and 7th Avenue. But today on college campuses across the country you have students who are interested in nationalism. Nationalism is the wave of the present and the future. It is nationalism that is bringing freedom to oppressed people all over the world. It was nationalism that brought freedom to the Algerians. It was nationalism that brought freedom to the Nigerians and to the Ghanaians. It was nationalism that brought freedom to the people of Uganda and Tanganyika and Sudan and Somaliland. It was nationalism that has brought about the freedom of every oppressed people. They have studied the tactics and the strategy and the message of all of the African nations who have emerged and have won their independence. And they have seen that the Africans did not get it by sitting in. They did not get it by waiting in. They did not get it by singing, "We Shall Overcome;" they got it through nationalism. And you and I will get it through nationalism.

What is it that makes it difficult for the philosophy of nationalism to spread among the so-called Negroes? Number one, they think they have a stake in America. They think they have an investment in this country. Which we do: We've invested 310 years of slave labor. 310 years, every day of which your and my mother and father worked for nothing. Not eight hours a day--there was no union in that day. They worked from sunup until sundown--from can't see in the morning until can't see at night. They never had a day off! And on Sunday they were allowed to sit down and sing about when they died they wouldn't be slaves no more-- when they died, they wouldn't be slaves no more. They'd go up in the sky and every day would be Sunday. That's a shame.

And it is that 310 years of slave labor that was my and your contribution into this particular economy and political system.

You and I should let them know now that either we collect our investment right here, right now, and then if we can't collect it here, our people will then be ready to go back home. Let's go ahead and join in with them and make these men pay these back wages. Make him give us the back pay.

Our forefathers weren't the Pilgrims. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock; the rock was landed on us.

Let's join in--if this is what the Negro wants, let's join him. Let's show him how to struggle. Let's show him how to fight. Let's show him how to bring a real revolution.

Let's make him stop jiving!

If you're interested in freedom, you need some judo, you need some karate--you need all the things that will help you fight for freedom. If we don't resort to the bullet, then immediately we have to take steps to use the ballot. Equality of opportunity, if the constitution at the present time [doesn't offer it], then change it. Either it offers it, or it doesn't offer it. If it offers it--good, then give it to us--if it doesn't offer it, then change it. You don't need a debate. You don't need a filibuster. You need some action!

So what you and I have to do is get involved. You and I have to be right there breathing down their throats. Every time they look over their shoulders, we want them to see us.

We want to make them--we want to make them--pass the strongest civil-rights bill they ever passed, because we know that even after they pass it, they can't enforce it.

In order to do this, we're starting a voters' registration drive. We have to get everybody in Harlem registered, not as Democrats or Republicans, but registered as Independents. We're going to organize a corps of brothers and sisters who, after this city is mapped out, they won't leave one apartment-house door not knocked on. There won't be a door in Harlem that will not have been knocked on to see that whatever black face lives behind that door is registered to vote by a certain time this year. Nobody will have an excuse not to be registered. We'll ask him to let us see your card. If you don't have the sense of responsibility to get registered, we'll move you out of town.


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11 May 2006

A Message From Leonard...

Leonard Peltier continues to serve an unfair and unjust sentence in United States Federal Prison. For over 30 years, he has remained in custody for a crime that many prominent Canadians agree, he did not commit.

The sentence Mr. Peltier received has been under review many times, and his legal team has worked to obtain appeal grounds under very adverse legal conditions, and complicit with US government intervention on many occasions.

Yet Leonard Peltier remains in custody after serving a sentence that most would deem as longer than even a guilty person would have had to endure. Leonard Peltier remains strong.

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) works with Mr. Peltier on an ongoing basis to continue the fight to gain Justice and FREE this man a leader in the American Indian Movement and a spiritual symbol of oppression for Native peoples throughout North America.

The work that has been done on Leonard Peltier's behalf in Canada has been a source of inspiration and education across this country. A difficult job that has caused many Justice advocates to renew and research the reasons why Leonard Peltier was removed from Canada to face a hostile and biased US Court system.

The fight for freedom will go on. At the request of Leonard Peltier a new effort has been launched to support and gather resources in this cause. The new effort will see local support group's work with the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee team will maintain contact with worldwide supporters and activists. It is Leonard's request that all support groups nationally and internationally work under the direction of Leonard Peltier Defense Committee which is presently in the process of relocating to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where Leonard is presently incarcerated at the USP Lewisburg. The Leonard Peltier Defense
Committee is the direct source of contact with Leonard Peltier, his Legal Defense Team, and his supporters.

It is time to send a message to Leonard Peltier's friends and supporters that the fight is getting stronger and that we haven't forgotten the battle for freedom that many people take personally. Your help will make a difference. Please visit the Leonard Peltier Official website @ www.leonardpeltier.net

Additional Contact Information:

Email address:

LPDC address:


2626 N. Mesa # 132

El Paso, Texas 79902

Phone- 915- 533-6655

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

"Our work will be unfinished until not one human being is hungry or
battered, not one single person is forced to die in war, not one
languishes imprisoned and no one is persecuted for his or her beliefs."

~~Leonard Peltier

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