The first impression I get of this man is that he seems grumpy, disgruntled or not too happy with his current circumstances. I think his advice would go something like this:
“Don’t do what I did, young lady. Many opportunities to make something of myself came along. I hesitated. Weighed all of the pros and cons. Took my time making a decision. By the time I was ready to say yay or nay, the opportunities had moved along. Then I would curse myself as a failure. I became embittered. I drove everyone away because of my self-doubt. Now look at me. I am an old man. I never made anything special out of my life. And my only company are these pigeons.
“If you see an opportunity, cease it. You may still fail, but you can pat yourself on the back for trying. Then try again. Embrace your loved ones. Keep them close. When you reach my age, don’t feed the pigeons alone.”
Back in the 80s when I was doing a lot of research on the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, I disregarded on important figure of those times because I thought he was too militant. I am referring to Malcolm X. It wouldn’t be until I was in college that I began taking a closer look at him and his movement. I had joined a feminist club and there was an older woman in it (she was also studying at Hollins under the adult program) who had known Malcolm X and she began telling us stories about him. Her words have stuck with me all through my life. She said, “He was never racist. He never wanted war. He wanted a world where everyone lived peacefully regardless of skin color. But he was willing to fight and die for it if necessary.” Those are almost the exact same words he is known for. As a life-long pacifist, I found it hard to understand fighting of any kind, but then I am white and have never lived under oppression. I began to put myself in his shoes. While I still believe I would have gone the route that Martin Luther King, Jr. took, I can definitely see why some would go in the opposite direction. What inspires me so much about him is that he stood by his convictions. He approached the Civil Rights Movement from an intellectual perspective, realizing that integration would probably not work and that separation was the only way for blacks. While I don’t believe that stance was a correct one, I honestly believe that he genuinely cared about the plight of blacks in America.
Here are some of my favorite Malcolm X quotes:
Here are some wonderful videos of his speeches, interviews and a biography:
Want another opinion on Malcolm X? Check out this well-written post by JD Holmes on Why Malcolm X Matters
Interesting Facts: By March 1964, MalcolmX had grown disillusioned with the Nation of Islam and its leader Elijah Muhammad. Expressing many regrets about his time with them, which he had come to regard as largely wasted, he embraced Sunni Islam. After a period of travel in Africa and the Middle East, which included completing the Hajj, he repudiated the Nation of Islam, disavowed racism and founded Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. He continued to emphasize Pan-Africanism, black self-determination, and black self-defense. In February 1965, he was assassinated by three members of the Nation of Islam. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, published shortly after his death, is considered one of the most influential nonfiction books of the 20th century. (source)
Thank you for joining me for the A-to-Z Challenge. If you’d like to see who else is participating, check them out here.
Each day, I will be posting about People Who Inspire Me.