The legacy and lessons of Malcolm X

Amadi Ajamu | 5/12/2016, 1:18 p.m.
May 19th marks the 91st anniversary of the birth of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Malcolm X. Now more than ever, his ...
Malcolm X

May 19th marks the 91st anniversary of the birth of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Malcolm X. Now more than ever, his prophetic 1964 “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech resonates for Black people during this 2016 presidential election year:

“The Black man in the Black community has to be re-educated into the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to bring him in return. Don’t be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”

The Black Vote Coalition recently called for a “Write in ‘Reparations Now’ for President” grassroots campaign to make a political statement of resistance to the selected candidates.

Clearly Donald Trump’s overt political organizing of the most ignorant and racist elements of white america is not surprising. Political leaders in the U.S. have a centuries-old tradition of white supremacy, racism and exploitation. The stagnate economic recession has brought out the most base and desperate inclinations in sizable sectors of the white population.

Hillary Clinton has a long political record riddled with human rights abuses of African people. From Harlem to Haiti, Zimbabwe and Libya, Clinton has wreaked havoc for her own selfish political and economic benefit. We must not hand over our vote to a tried-and-true tool of our oppression.

Centuries of forced systemic political and economic exploitation, the Black codes, Jim Crow segregation and the persistent human rights abuses Black people face today have forced us to clarify the meaning of fundamental change. Our history dares us to objectively define our political, social and economic reality and chart a course toward our own development or perish.

Our next step demands a frank national discussion on a plebiscite/referendum that will address the central question of our political and economic self-determination.

In honor of the 91st anniversary of the birth of our Black national hero, Malcolm X, the 27th annual Black Power March will “Shut Em Down!” May 19, 2016. All stores along the 125th Street corridor in Harlem will be shut down between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Those who are marching will assemble at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building at noon.

An evening Malcolm X forum, revisiting the “Ballot or the Bullet” speech and its meaning today, will be held at 6 p.m. at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on the 8th floor. A panel discussion, 2016 Presidential Election: The Choice, Plebiscite, Reparations and Self-determination, will also be held. For more information, contact the December 12th Movement at 718-398-1766.