Continuing the theme for Black History Month this weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday is dedicated to one of my personal favorite people, Mr. Malcolm X, also know as “Detroit Red”, and later, as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.
Born Malcolm Little, on May 19, 1925, his childhood was one of great tragedy. His father was murdered when he was only six years old and his mother was placed in a mental institute when he was 13. He and his seven siblings were then separated and placed into foster homes. He then became quite the criminal, engaging in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery, pimping, and, by some accounts, prostitution.
He wound up in jail where he developed a love for the written word. He devoured book after book after book. He was, in effect, a self educated man and encouraged others to become the same. I don’t believe that he much good to say about the American education system. In fact, in his own childhood he struggled with being a bright and gifted student while being told by white teachers that he could never be what he wanted due to the color of his skin.
Malcolm grew up to become a great civil right’s leader and is often remembered for being more militant and harsh in his methods and criticisms of White America and it’s treatment of Black people. I recommend everyone read his autobiography, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. His journey to becoming such a controversial leader and public figure has many surprising twists and turns, and there is so much we can all learn from him, whether we agree with all his views or not.
His assassination, on February 21, 1965, was, in my mind, one of the saddest moments in American history.
“How is it possible to write one’s autobiography in a world so fast-changing as this?”
Many times in his life Malcolm reinvented himself. Throughout his life many of his views changed and he openly admitted whenever he had been wrong. The times were changing and changing fast, and so was he. One of the things I like about Malcolm is his dedication to reading and learning more and more throughout his life. It was through books and meeting other people that he grew. He is the epitome of the idea that the best education is not found in a school.
I imagine that it was hard for Malcolm to write, or more accurately, tell, his story when he himself wasn’t sure about who he was or who we all are. He was trying to find the answers to what we all should do while at the same time changing his views with every new bit of information. He realized that nothing in life is permanent and no autobiography can truly be complete.
I often think I know something but when I stop to listen or take time to read, I realize that I don’t know every thing and I don’t know how things should be or what we should do. I can’t even be sure from one moment to another that I fully know who I am. I seem to change and shift and with every movement I wonder how I can explain myself to the world when I can’t even explain myself to myself?
But that’s one of the great things about living in this day and age. Through blogs and social media we can all explain ourselves over and over, as needed, and as the world changes.
P.S. Can you imagine what some of these great minds would do with a Twitter account?