This Thursday, May 19, is the 97th physical day anniversary of human rights activist, Malcolm X, a.k.a. el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. Often misunderstood as a hate preacher and an advocate for violence, simply because he encouraged Black people to love themselves, what has been overlooked is his human rights plight for his people.
After enduring centuries of emotional, psychological, and physical slavery in the wilderness of North America, many Black people thought that assimilating with their oppressors was what determined their freedom and success. However, Malcolm X utilized the theology of his Garveyite upbringing, as well as that from the Nation of Islam, in advocating Americanized-Africans to be a self-determining people. Homelessness, inadequate education, police terrorism, and rampant unemployment were just some of the issues plaguing Black communities.
“As long as these injustices are labeled by us as civil rights this remains a domestic issue and none of our people from abroad, because of protocol, can be involved in Uncle Sam’s domestic problems,” Malcolm X noted during a June 25, 1964 interview on Boston radio. “So all the civil rights groups have to do is expand the struggle from civil rights to human rights. And once it’s expanded to the level of human rights then this puts us in the position to charge the U.S. with violating the U.N. charter on human rights.”
His Organization of Afro-American Unity was established months earlier specifically to address these issues, and he utilized that platform perfectly. Having recently conducted his hajj to Mecca, and also visiting several North African countries, helped expand his global views.
“As long as we keep it on the level of civil rights, then we alienate the support of our brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia,” he explains. “But on the level of human rights we have the support of billions of Black, Brown, Red and Yellow people from all over this Earth behind us.”
While implementing the Pan African paradigm of his upbringing, he was presenting vastly new ideas to the general public.
“It is only in the United Nations where everybody has a ballot, where everyone has equal vote, that the plight of the Black man can be given a just hearing and the rest of the dark world can weigh on our side and balance the scales. Whenever you take it into the white man’s court you will never get justice because he’s the guilty one who committed the crime in the first place. It’s like taking your case from the wolf to the fox, in taking it to Washington, D.C. You can never have civil rights until you have human rights. Human rights represent the right to be a human being. Whenever you are recognized and respected as a human being, our civil rights are automatic.”
By the time of his February 21, 1965, assassination, Malcolm X had become a threat to the global colonial powers, and is regarded as one of the most influential people in United States’ history.
“He had gotten the pledge of eight African nations to take the case of Black America before the United Nations as a human rights case, against a civil rights case,” explains master teacher Dr. John Henrik Clarke in the documentary “Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X,” “and I don’t think this nation wanted to suffer the embarrassment of having that done. He was exposing colonialism.”
He concludes: “I do not believe that jealous idiots within the Nation of Islam had the intellectual capacity to understand the depth of a Malcolm X, the direction of a Malcolm X. So therefore, their hands may have killed him, but the direction of their hands—the intent—came from outside.”