Though vilified by the establishment and press, Malcolm challenged and exposed the immorality of the power structure; the illusion of the constitution and duplicity of the system; the impiety of the Christian conscience; the hypocrisy of the American dream; the misconceptions of the American way of life; the deviating tactics of the mass news media; and the hatefulness of racism.
For every driblet of civil rights “bestowed” upon Afro-Americans, the nation patted itself on the back. To Malcolm, this was a gross insult and an affront, as it rightfully should be.
Denounced as a hater, it is enlightening to note that what Malcolm hated were: tyranny, oppression, disenfranchisement, exploitation; enslavement—whether physical, mental, or psychological; race humiliation and stigmatizing; stultifying conditions and limited job opportunities, inferior education, and sub-standard housing for his people; U.S. economic and political aggression internationally; and the degrading of human lives.
In his brief lifetime, he hated with fierceness the horrendous, confining, and unjust prerequisites manifested in this country, in Africa and elsewhere, which decent persons anywhere should hate and counter. Few, however, have such courage. Most people soften their protests for the sake of pseudo-racial harmony, thus digressing from the struggle for freedom.
What he loved was carefully omitted from the white press. He loved humanity; the quality of being a human being. He loved dignity; the attribute of being esteemed. He loved justice; the principle of dealing justly. He loved freedom, the state of being free, the absence of restraint or repression. He loved live in its wholeness and beauty, unconfined and with passionate compassion.
He died young, an ebullient, energizing package of vitality, strength, knowledge and perception. He articulated eloquently, he exuded fortitude. He was a scholar, but not dogmatic nor pedantic. He spoke the language of his people in the ghetto; he understood what they were subjected to; and aligned himself to the most rejected and degraded.
He could electrify a room by his presence; magnetize an audience, but he was no mystic. His source of being profound was his sincerity, humility, forbearance, selflessness, and a keen sensitiveness to the needs of others. His most generous gift to his people were the hours, days, months, and years—the unlimited time that he spent speaking to them on the street, and in halls to liberate their indoctrinated minds and wills.
It is true that Malcolm lived and died in a state of violence, for the American climate from the beginning of its history to his people was entrenched in violence from the system of slavery and segregation. It was this same violence that won for this nation the accumulation of power, wealth, resources, and land, under the guise of adventurous spirit, building new frontiers, creating new worlds, economic assistance, and humanitarian concern.
Malcolm was surrounded by violence, as were all his people. It ensnared his every move. But no amount of intimidations, terrorizing, or pressure could still his speaking. He said what was needed to be said.
Douglas Mallock, an American poet, wrote, “Courage is to feel the daily daggers of relentless steel, and keep on living.” This he did for the last two years, feeling the “daily daggers” courageously, until his last breath.
Norman Douglas, a Scotch writer, once wrote, “No great man is ever born too soon or too late. When we say that the time is not right for this or that celebrity, we confess by implication that this very man and no other is required.”
But Malcolm was more than a great man. He was a Curse to those who stole the rights of Black people. He was an Epic, who personified heroic action. He was an Epoch, the starting point of a new period or a striking event. He was a Phenomenon, a rare fact or an exceptional person. He was a Fountainhead, a source of a stream from which emanated strength and hope.
His legacy is his infinite love for his Black race. To all others, he leaves the fact to ponder that a man can endure the denunciations, alienation, constrictions, indignities, insults; all the combined forces of inequities, without mitigating his stand.
To have lived in the same eras as this remarkable man should be a personal gain of new perceptions in the affirmation of humanity.
The words of 19th century English poet Sir Henry Taylor may well epitomize the magnitude of this African giant who died for his people: “Such a soul whose sudden visitation dazes the world, vanishes like lightning, but he leaves behind a voice that in the distance far away wakens the slumbering ages.