Sharing the 1994 documentary Malcolm X: Make It Plain is a fine way to celebrate Malcolm’s birthday.
For a truly in-depth look at Malcolm X, I recommend he newly published “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” by Manning Marable. The result of over two decades of tireless research, it clarifies many of the facts and fictions surrounding both Malcolm’s life and death. The fact that the book was an immediate bestseller indicates that Malcolm’s message is as timely today as it was when he was alive. Marable’s book not only helps set the record straight regarding many of the fictional and inaccurate elements in Alex Haley’s book “The Autobiography Of Malcolm X,” it brings Malcolm’s character and humanity into tighter focus. It is an engrossing and illuminating look at a life that has only grown in stature over the years. Malcolm, now more than ever.
Flawed prophet though he may have been, Malcolm X set the standard for young Black men like our President and helped kick down the door that Barack Obama walked through many years ago on his way to where he is now. While no one will mistake President Obama for Malcolm X, there is no doubt that Malcolm instilled in Obama a sense of Black pride and self-respect that, in his better moments, propels the President into doing the right thing despite negative political ramifications. I feel that in those all-too-rare moments when Obama stands up for the disenfranchised and marginalized people in our society, it is because of the long righteous shadows of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Obama can run but he can’t hide from his own people’s history.
Illustration by Gluekit.