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50th anniversary of the founding of Malcolm X’s OAAU

AUTODIDACT 17 | 6/26/2014, 5:22 p.m.

After the March 12, 1964, press conference announcing his departure from the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X traveled to Detroit on April 12, 1964, and delivered his most politicized dissertation to date—“The Ballot or the Bullet.” The following day, he flew to Germany, made hajj in Mecca six days later, then visited Africa on April 30 and finally returned to New York City on May 21. Henceforth, he and a few other activists laid down the groundwork for his new, nonreligious Black Nationalist Movement.

“Before leaving, he said, ‘I want an organization formed named the Organization of Afro-American Unity [OAAU] by the time I come back, and I hold you responsible for its formation,’” revealed his chief aide, Brother Abdullah Abdur-Razzaq, formerly known as James 67X.

During the OAAU’s founding forum on June 28, 1964, at the Audubon Ballroom (3940 Broadway), Malcolm X revealed his plans.

“So the purpose of the OAAU is to unite everyone in the Western Hemisphere of African descent into one united force,” he explained. “And then, once we are united among ourselves in the Western Hemisphere, we will unite with our brothers on the Motherland, on the continent of Africa. So to get right with it, I would like to read you the ‘Basic Aims and Objectives of the OAAU,’ started here in New York, June 1964.

“The OAAU, organized and structured by a cross section of the Afro-American people living in the United States of America, has been patterned after the letter and spirit of the Organization of African Unity, which was established at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May of 1963,” Malcolm added.

He also laid out the OAAU’s charter, which he and John Henrik Clarke drafted:

“I. Establishment: The OAAU shall include all people of African descent in the Western Hemisphere, as well as our brothers and sisters on the African continent.

“II. Self-Defense: Since self-preservation is the first law of nature, we assert the Afro-American’s right to self-defense. The history of unpunished violence against our people clearly indicates that we must be prepared to defend ourselves. Our people are within our rights to protect themselves by whatever means necessary!”

“III. Education: Education is an important element in the struggle for human rights. It is the means to help our children and our people rediscover their identity and thereby increase their self-respect. We intend to use the tools of education to help raise our people to an unprecedented level of excellence and self-respect through their own efforts.”

“IV. Politics & Economics: The OAAU will organize the Afro-American community block-by-block to make the community aware of its power and its potential.

“V. Social: Our community must reinforce its moral responsibility to rid itself of the effects of years of exploitation, neglect and apathy, and wage an unrelenting struggle against police brutality.”

Malcolm said, “Armed with the knowledge of our past, we can with confidence charter a course for our future. Culture is an indispensable weapon in the freedom struggle. We must take hold of it and forge the future with the past.