“The Malcolm X Day May 19 celebration recognizes his vision of us as a global people liberating ourselves from European colonialism,” explained historian Dr. Leonard Jeffries in preparation for the 51st anniversary of the event, “and May 25 is African Liberation Day, where we celebrate the great strides made regarding Africa’s global unity over the past several decades.”
At the time of his Feb. 21, 1965, execution at Washington Heights’ Audubon Ballroom, Brother El Hajj Malik El Shabazz/Malcolm X had built alliances with several of Africa’s heads of state and a couple of anti-imperialist revolutionary leaders from the Caribbean.
Having been inspired by his Garveyite upbringing, as well as the formation of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 25, 1963, he, Dr. John Henrik Clarke and several more Black nationalist comrades established the secular Organization of Afro-American Unity on June 28, 1964, “which will be committed to doing whatever is necessary to bring the [Black] struggle from the level of civil rights to the level of human rights,” Malcolm X stated that day.
Throughout the OAAU’s brief existence, a variety of leaders from throughout the Black community attended the weekly seminars at the Audubon Ballroom, including conscious comedian Dick Gregory and political activist Fannie Lou Hamer, among others. Abdul-Rahman Mohammad Babu and a few more African dignitaries also attended.
“People who don’t travel outside the U.S. don’t really understand the great impact Malcolm X had worldwide,” said human rights activist and historian Dr. Jack Felder. “Not just on Black people, but also in Africa, Asia and Latin America. People still talk about Malcolm’s legacy today.”
He was so influential that many followed in his footsteps and joined the Nation of Islam in their truth quest, and also traveled to Mecca and Egypt, doing just as he did. Some even went a bit further.
“Malcolm was inspired by the larger global struggle of Africans who fought to free themselves from colonialism, led by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Ture and the Cuban Revolution,” said Jeffries. “During that period, great projections for our liberation were established, and we have continued on that path. These are times that we need to appreciate and understand our struggle for liberation and understand the statement, aluta continua—the struggle continues.”
Jeffries added, “We’ll be celebrating the continued resistance to oppression in establishing the African renaissance. Malcolm recognized that we had to deal with the question of reparations, and that has become an important issue today.”
Dr. Felder said, “The best education you can get is to educate yourself, and Malcolm X did that. The man loved his people, and in fact I hope Black people recognize he died for our liberation and freedom. His legacy lives forever, it’s not going to die. I think Malcolm X is bigger today in the Black world than when he was alive. So long live Malcolm X!”
To kick off Malcolm X Day 2016, a caravan of vehicles is scheduled to depart from the Harlem State Office Building (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 125th Street) May 19 at 10 a.m. for the 51st annual pilgrimage to where the physical bodies of the martyred Muslim minister and his wife Dr. Betty Shabazz are interred. For the next couple hours, several hundred supporters will converge at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y., to commemorate the 91st anniversary of Malcolm X’s birth with drumming, brief speeches and reflections on his legacy.
After the return to Harlem, the December 12th Movement will conduct its 28th annual economic boycott of all businesses along 125th Street from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in a display of the power of the people.
On the verge of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the organization that continued to carry out Malcolm’s political views at the time he was martyred, the original Black Panthers will be present in full support of the annual commemoration.
A number of other events are scheduled for the remainder of the day, including at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Cultural and Educational Center, formerly the Audubon Ballroom (3940 Broadway, 6-10 p.m.) and at the Harlem State Office Building at 6 p.m.
For more information, visit brothermalcolm.edu.