Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May 19, 2010

The revolutionary firebrand is quietly in contemplation, peacefully at prayer, alone, kneeling in the middle of a vast opulent mosque with halos of lights swirling around his head.

Malcolm X left The Nation of Islam in 1963 following ongoing conflict with Elijah Muhammad, the head of the Black Muslims, and deep doubt over The Nation's strange and often very un-Islamic teachings. Malcolm became a Sunni Muslim and in 1964 made the Haj, the annual pilgimage to Mecca in Saudia Arabia in the last month of the Islamic year (April in 1964) that all Muslims are expected to make at least once during their lifetime.

The Haj fundamentally changed Malcolm's very racist attitudes. The experience of over a million Muslims gathered together - every race, skin color, nationality and speaking many languages - awoke in El-Hajj Mailik El-Shabazz, as he was now known, a deep conviction of the brotherhood of all mankind. But he had little time left to put his change of heart into practice, on February 21, 1965 he was killed by assassins sent from The Nation to silence their very vocal defector and detractor.

Malcolm, born May 19, 1925, would be 85 years old today. No doubt he and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at 81 this year, would have long ago reconciled their quite different conceptions of racial relations and civil rights activism. Malcolm called Martin a chump and referred to the Farce on Washington, but politics often isn't pretty and both endured far worse slurs. These revolutionaries would now probably be revered elder statesmen, in the mold of Nelson Mandela ... and the world would be a far different place.

Image ... Malcolm in Mecca, 1964.

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