Malcolm X was gunned down on 21 February 1965 as he addressed a political rally in Harlem, New York. The entire US establishment heaved a sigh of relief. The New York Times’ editorial the day after Malcolm’s murder said:
“His ruthless and fanatical belief in violence not only set him apart from the responsible leaders of the civil rights movement it also marked him out for notoriety and a violent end. Malcolm X’s life was strangely and pitifully twisted. Yesterday someone came out of the darkness that he s pawned and killed him.”
Malcolm X did not become a socialist. But he was a revolutionary, and that meant he had to look at how the oppressed and exploited could overthrow the system that holds them down.
He said, “You have whites who are fed up, you have blacks who are fed up. When the day comes when the whites who are really fed up learn how to establish the proper type of communication with those [blacks] who are fed up and they get some co-ordinated action going, you’ll get some changes. And it will take both, it will take everything that you’ve got.”
He believed such unity was desirable, but very difficult to achieve. The first step, he said, was to build a militant black organisation.
The movement against the Vietnam war and the black ghetto uprisings in the late 1960s showed the possibility for unity between blacks and whites and for a revolutionary organisation that included both.
No one knows how Malcolm’s ideas would have developed had he lived to witness that.
We do know he had no time for the idea that an “enlightened elite” could reform away racism or that the mass of black people should put their faith in the handful accepted into the establishment.
He said, “It’s impossible for a chicken to produce a duck egg. It can only produce according to what that particular system was constructed to produce. The system in this country cannot produce freedom for the Afro-American. It is impossible for this system, this economic system, this political system, this social system, this system period.”
So you have to fight this system — “by any means necessary”.
Meeting sponsored by Bristol Stokes Croft Socialist Workers Party and introduced by Eamonn Kelly.
1930pm. Thursday October 25th 5th Floor, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft