Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
This month, February, we celebrate Black history. While we hear and learn about great African-American people who have contributed to the building of this great nation of ours and the nations around the world, we cannot forget the hardships they have faced along the way. The hardships of slavery, of war, of civil unrest, and even the hardship of trying to live in peace, are undeniably a black mark in our history, as a nation and as a world and it isn't over. There is still slavery, there is still bigotry, and there is still hatred in this world but, overall, although it is still a work in progress, it is better than it used to be but even so, we still have a long way to go and a long way to learn.
One of these African-American leaders went by the name of Malcolm X. Although Malcolm X would come to be known as a “mover and shaker” for civil rights in the late 1950's-early 60's, Malcolm X started out working odd jobs and then turned to crime. He was eventually given a ten year prison sentence for burglary in 1946 after having a record for petty crimes and also allegedly ran gambling, drugs and prostitution rings in Harlem, New York.
His brother, Reginald Little, visited him in prison and talked with Malcolm about the Nation of Islam, a Hindu-based religion. Malcolm X used his time in prison to further his education and began reading and studying the teachings of the NOI leader Elijah Muhammed. Muhammed basically taught that the white people were keeping the black people down and preventing them from accomplishing anything in life and that the NOI was seeking their own state that was separate from states where white people lived. When Malcolm Little was released from prison in 1952, after serving seven of his ten year term, he had become a devoted follower of Elijah Muhammed and the Nation of Islam religion. This is when he changed his surname from “Little” to “X”, as he felt the name Little was his slave name.
After being in the Nation of Islam for a few years, Malcolm parted ways with the NOI when he felt that Elijah Muhamed was a false prophet and formed his own religious movement called the Muslim Mosque, Inc.. After being very vocal and prominent in the civil rights movement, Malcolm X was murdered by three men from the Nation of Islam in front of four hundred people that he was speaking to at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan. Three gunmen rushed the stage where he speaking and thy shot him fifteen times. Malcolm X was declared dead at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, on this day, February 21, 1965.