Tag: Nation of Islam

February 21 Malcolm X


This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Malcolm X



"I don't favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I'm also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people."


– Malcolm X 



Malcolm X is a critically underappreciated and tragically
misunderstood figure in American history. Often, he’s still tarred with the
kind of labels J. Edgar Hoover used to describe him. What many people fail to
recognize is that Malcolm X worked relentlessly to improve life for Black
people in America. That was his focus.



Malcolm used his role as a minister in the Nation of Islam
to preach a message of Black love and self-reliance that was truly radical in
the early 1960s. While many Blacks viewed their relationships to Whites as being
permanently imbalanced, Malcolm began convincing us that no one else held the
key to our destiny as a people. Publicly decrying America as inherently,
institutionally racist was a revolutionary step. The Black Power movement,
Black Liberation Theology and Afrocentric theory owe Malcolm the deepest of



Many are now convinced that Malcolm X was an advocate of
violence because of the dichotomous relationship presumed between he and Martin
Luther King Jr. The two men had many important differences but their
similarities were much deeper and more profound.* While he rejected King’s
stance on passive resistance, Malcolm never suggested that violence was a
solution to turmoil, only that every person has the right to self-defense. The
image of a Black man encouraging his followers to stand against violence was
terrifying to a population accustomed to seeing Blacks as willing victims of



Sadly, none of us were able to see the ultimate evolution of
Malcolm X. He was assassinated soon after his hajj to Mecca during which he
discovered that Whites of good will existed in large numbers and could be
important allies in his fight against American racism. The shift from Malcolm X
to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was on the verge of changing the world once again.



Malcolm rejected much of the delusional race theory of the
Nation of Islam and preached about the possibilities of Black people. He
refused to focus on being a victim and demanded his adherents decide to live
their lives fully and well.


Today, on the anniversary of his assassination, I am particularly grateful for Malcolm X. You should be too.






*- Hopefully I’ll be encouraged to write more on the


February 18 Marcus Garvey



This Black History Month I’m Grateful for Marcus Garvey



“I regard the Klan, the Anglo-Saxon clubs and
White American societies, as far as the Negro is concerned, as better friends
of the race than all other groups of hypocritical whites put together.” 


-Marcus Garvey



Marcus Garvey could certainly be counted among the most
influential Blacks in American history yet he is generally little more than a
footnote in today’s textbooks.  Garvey
was born in Jamaica and his experiences both there and in the US helped
convince him that Blacks throughout the African diaspora had a great deal in
common. Today, this vision is referred to as pan-African and Garvey’s legacy is
a global one. 



In an attempt to share his message, Garvey founded the
Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). By most accounts, the UNIA was
the largest Black organization in history. In its very name, the UNIA marked
itself as different than groups like the Urban League and NAACP (National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Garvey intended to convert
his pan-African vision into a literal experience. He worked for decades to develop
a permanent homeland for Blacks, in the vein of Zionism. Garvey was convinced
that the most likely method for achieving this goal was by reverse colonizing
Liberia with Blacks emigrating from the New World.


While Garvey had no affection for the Ku Klux Klan, he
agreed with them that America was permanently going to be a White man’s country
and accepted their offers of assistance. The Klan reinforced Garvey’s
conviction that Whites in America were entirely uninterested in viewing Blacks
as equals in their society. Garvey was willing to work with virtually anyone
interested in making his Back to Africa movement a reality.



In his reverence for Africa and desire for Black
self-control, Garvey’s perspectives gained adherents well after his own life
and career ended. Today, Garvey is often viewed as an ideological ancestor to
the religious concepts of the Nation of Islam and Rastafarianism as well as the
anti-colonial, Black Power and Afrocentrism movements. The contemporary Black
American tradition of Kwanzaa is nearly unimaginable without the work of Marcus



While Garvey’s great dream of an African homeland was never
fulfilled, Garvey gifted Africans throughout the world with a new sense of
self-appreciation and importance. For that and many other reasons, today, I am
grateful for Marcus Garvey. You should be too.