Fifty years ago, Black Nationalist advocate El Hajj Malik El Shabazz/Malcolm X had departed from the Nation of Islam in March of 1964 and was challenging the white supremacists elite at their institutions of higher learning. That following Dec. 3, he made his case during the Oxford Union Debate in England, and a couple weeks later, Dec. 16, he took his honed intellect from the heartless streets of Harlem to the hallowed halls of Harvard University and delivered his dissertation, “The African Revolution and Its Impact Upon the Afro- American.”
His hajj to Mecca and traveling to the Motherland that spring gained him invaluable firsthand experiences, which he shared during his subsequent speaking engagements as he globalized the plight of Africans throughout the Diaspora and laid out a blueprint for Black Power.
“We need a little extremism in order to straighten a very extremely nasty situation out,” Malcolm X opened with at Oxford. “Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of their liberties as a human being, as far as I’m concerned, he is justified to resort to whatever method necessary to bring about his liberty again.”
The once-aspiring attorney then explained how the slave-makers of the poor use the media to propagandize the public.
“When the people who are in power want to create an image to justify something that’s bad, they’ll use the press, and they’ll use the press to create a humanitarian image for a devil, or a devil image for a humanitarian.”
He also divulged what he determined to be the parasitic role of capitalism and how European imperialists and their allies were exploiting Africa.
“I live in a society whose social system, political system and economy is based upon the castration of the Black man.”
A couple of weeks later, at Harvard, the grassroots activist explained the importance of implementing the Pan-African paradigm for a better future.
“The government itself has shown just as much disregard for [Black] lives in the Congo as it has for lives right here in Mississippi, Alabama and other places in this country. So when Africans begin to identify their problems with our problems, and we begin to identify our problems with their problems … What effect will this have on what is called improving race relations between whites and Blacks in this country?”
He also explained the role education played on his people’s self-esteem. “Before 1959, the image of Africa was created by an enemy of Africa. As the image of Africa began to change from negative to positive, the image of the Black man in America began to change from negative to positive. We were made to hate Africa. You cannot hate your origin and not end up hating yourself… We cannot hate Africa and at the same time love ourselves.”
During both presentations, he shared his global scope of race relations, which had been broadening by his exposure and the relationships developed during his travels abroad in the previous few months.