How We Get Malcolm X Wrong

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“Malcolm X, his legacy, is this idea that blackness is a positive, complex, richly glorious tradition to be a part of. That it was a responsibility and not a burden….Malcolm is the activist who allowed us to love ourselves. And that means black women. That means black men. That means black children. That means black babies. Because Malcolm said that self-love had to come from within.” — Peniel E. Joseph, Ph.D.

Who was Malcolm X?

Fifty-five years after his assassination, the question looms.

History has told us that Malcolm X was the anti-MLK. A brilliant man full of rage (and quips), he openly referred to white people as the devil. The existing one-dimensional myth of Malcolm X was configured by the mainstream media and punctuated with notes of racism and Islamophobia. As we are well aware that the history of black people in the United States is often misrepresented—it’s no surprise that narratives about Malcolm X (one of the most iconic civil rights leaders) are a bit, well, hollow.

-Felice León

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