Fifty-Two years ago today, Malcolm X, also known as Al Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was assasinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, NYC. Days later at the memorial service, the renowned actor and activist Ossie Davis offered a eulogy, part of which we have reproduced here:
“…Many will say turn away – away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man – and we will smile. They will say that he is of hate – a fanatic, a racist – who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.
Malcolm was our manhood, our living, Black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves…Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man – but a seed – which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. ”
Davis’s words ring true today, as some continue to revile Malcolm and would like us to forget him. Yet today there are also those who celebrate him but deny his Blackness and would like us to deny our own. And there are still others who love him yet deny his Muslim identity. At Sapelo Square we honor him today as he was: Black and Muslim. We know that his spirituality motivated and gave shape to his commitments to Black Liberation. And we know that his commitments to freedom, justice and equality demonstrate the highest levels of spiritual enlightenment. As noted in the Qur’anic verse above, according to Muslim tradition we know he is a martyr and a friend of God, who continues to inspire the world.
In honor of Malcolm X we have dedicated our homepage to his legacy and invite you to read and reflect on these selections from Sapelo Square:
Refracting Light: An Online Photo and Audio Exhibit on the legacy of Malcolm X/Al Hajj Malik El Shabazz
American Muslims and the Historical Struggle for Black Lives: A Reflection on Malcolm X in Between the World and Me
Curating the Malcolm X Mixtape
Exhuming the Martyred Memory of Malcolm and Mother Betty Part 1 and Part 2
…in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves…