Editor's blog http://malcolmxbio.com/blog/4 en Malcolmology 101, #18: NOI Answers Muslim Critics http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>By the time Malcolm X had been named national spokesman in 1961, the Nation of Islam had come under public scrutiny from groups ranging from conservative whites to integrationist blacks. However, following trips to the Middle East by Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad in 1959 as well as the organization’s increased public profile, the pressure for other Muslim organizations in the U.S. to condemn the NOI became even more acute. The NOI was predated by other predominantly African-American Muslim groups such as Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science Temple and the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam (AMI). Just as the NAACP had scrambled to distance itself from the NOI in the aftermath of “The Hate That Hate Produced,” the AMI and orthodox Muslims launched attacks charging that that Nation’s religious heterodoxy had in fact crossed into heresy.<span>&nbsp; </span></span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Talib Dawud, a jazz trumpeter and prolific proselytizer associated with the Moslem Brotherhood of America, Inc., first attacked the NOI in 1959 with a series of articles in the black Chicago newspaper, the <em>New</em> <em>Crusader</em>. The most scathing was a photograph of NOI founder W.D. Fard, whom the group believes to be Allah-in-person, with the subtitle: “White Man is God for Cult of Islam.” The NOI found the article so disturbing that the Chicago and New York mosques worked to purchase and destroy as many copies of the issue as possible. Along with jazz pianist, Ahmad Jamal, Dawud and his wife Dakota Staton (Aliyah Rabia) also slandered the sect by claiming that Elijah Muhammad could not perform the <em>Hajj</em> in 1959 because the Saudi Arabian government had banned him as an inauthentic Muslim. Eventually Dawud’s monopoly on the <em>New</em> <em>Crusader</em> disintegrated and bitterness between the groups peaked in 1962 when Dawud sued Muhammad, enjoining the District Court to disallow the terms “Islam” or “Muslim” in association with the sect. Malcolm finally unleashed his assault against Staton, a jazz vocalist: “Even the non-Muslim public knows that no Muslim sister who follows Mr. Muhammad would think of singing sexy songs, half-naked in a night-club where people are getting drunk and expect people to respect her as an ‘example’ of religious piety.” Malcolm then turned the rhetorical war towards Dawud, implying that Staton’s suit was an attempt to reinvigorate his lackluster career. </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Another voice echoing Dawud’s sentiments was a Sudanese Muslim student at Pennsylvania University, Yahya Hayari, who wrote a letter to the editor that same year challenging Elijah Muhammad’s <em>Hajj </em>as being out of season. Malcolm responded to Hayari in a private letter and again publicly in the <em>Pittsburgh</em> <em>Courier</em>, challenging the student to settle the dispute “in private, not in public.” He downplayed the differences between the NOI and the Islamic <em>ummah</em><span>&nbsp; </span>and lamented that Hayari suffered from a “colonial mentality” and sounded like a “brainwashed, American Negro.” Ironically, for all his work as a religious apologist for the NOI, Malcolm would later employ strategy similar to Dawud and Hayari as he attempted to discredit Elijah Muhammad and place himself distinctly within the world of orthodox Islam. </span></p></div></div></div> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 07:18:33 +0000 Editor 46 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #17: The Murder of Ronald Stokes http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>Having already battled against police brutality in the 1957 case of Johnson X Hinton and in his Queens home the following year, it was in late April 1962 that Malcolm X faced what many cite as the greatest tragedy of his tenure with the Nation of Islam. In what journalist Peter Goldman termed “a sort of <em>volte-face</em> version of the Johnson parable,” Los Angeles police hassled several Mosque 27 members who were unloading dry cleaning from their car. The officers were suspicious due to a chain of clothing store burglaries in the area and confronted the men. A scuffle ensued, the details of which are still muddled. However, after what the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> later dubbed a “blazing gunfight” (despite the fact that none of the Muslims were armed), seven mosque members were shot, many through the back. One was paralyzed, another five were injured, and most dramatically, Korean War veteran and mosque secretary Ronald X Stokes was shot and killed at close range while walking towards an officer with his hands raised. </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>The day before conducting Stokes’ funeral before nearly two-thousand mourners, Malcolm held a press conference at the Statler-Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. There he framed the crime in racial rather than religious terms, attempting to mobilize black civil rights groups and leaders whom he had often publicly criticized. A telegram from Roy Wilkins was read at the press conference and reprinted in the Nation’s official organ, <em>Muhammad Speaks</em>, in which the NAACP leader assured full support. Malcolm appeared on a Pacifica radio show alongside James Farmer and William Worthy to discuss the “Crisis of Racism.” He then spoke at Second Baptist Church before a joint meeting organized along with local ministers and politicians. </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>In addition to his participation in rallies featuring a cross-section of black civic and religious organizations, Malcolm continued to downplay religious differences and stress the need for a black united front at a Los Angeles protest rally sponsored by the County Civic League. Urging the heads of all black organizations to meet and pursue a unified strategy, he stated: “police brutality must end before something happens that can’t be stopped. We must come together against the common enemy. Remember all of us are black. It’s not a Muslim fight. It’s a black man’s fight.” Even Elijah Muhammad, who generally shied away from the political sphere, called for a united black coalition. “In these crucial times,” the Nation’s paper editorialized, “we must not think in terms of one’s religion, but in terms of justice for us poor black people. This means a United Black Front for justice in America.” </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Where Muhammad and Malcolm X differed drastically was in their responses to the attack. Malcolm took the brutality at Mosque 27 as more than a basic violation of human rights and dignity. He had personally organized the mosque in the late 1950s and knew several of victims, including Ronald Stokes, intimately. Malcolm felt that Stokes’ death needed immediate retribution and before leaving for Stokes’ funeral, he anticipated organized retaliation: “I got to go out there now and do what I’ve been preaching all this time.” </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Conversely, Muhammad took an apocalyptic and prophetic approach to the events, even privately criticizing the mosque members for allowing an “aggressor to come into their mosque.” </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Despite Malcolm’s readiness to bring retaliatory violence to Los Angeles, Muhammad advised him to “cool it” and asked his followers to “hold fast to Islam.” Perhaps most difficult for Malcolm was bringing the news back home to Harlem. Before a crowd of several thousand in Harlem Square, he had to publicly justify Muhammad’s stance and advise that they “play it cool, calm, and collected. And leave it in the hands of God.” Over a year and a half before the public split between Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, the Stokes incident would come to be regarded as the most illustrative example of the two men’s diverging religious and political visions.<span>&nbsp; </span></span></p></div></div></div> Fri, 11 Mar 2011 20:43:29 +0000 Editor 43 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #17: The Murder of Ronald Stokes http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p><strong>The following is a transcription of an interview of Malcolm X following the murder of Ronald Stokes.</strong></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><em>Citation: Malcolm X, Interviewed by Dick Elman, WBAI Radio, May 1, 1962, Oral History Research Office, Columbia University, pp. 1-9.</em></p> <p><strong>ELMAN:</strong> Malcolm X, I wonder if you can tell me very briefly what took place in Los Angeles? You mentioned earlier on the evening that there was police brutality and there was atrocity committed. Would you explain what the incident was?</p> <p><strong>MALCOLM X:</strong> there was police brutality and there was atrocity, and the press was just as atrocious as the police. Because they helped the police to cover it up by propagating a false image across the country, that there was a blazing gun battle which involved Muslims and police shooting at each other. And everyone who know Muslims knows that Muslims don’t even carry a finger nail file, much less carry guns. So that the blazing gun battle that the Los Angeles papers were writing about actually consisted of policemen’s guns who were blazing away at unarmed Negroes, so-called Negroes, whom they murdered and shot down in cold blood. And how it happened, according to our information —</p> <p>About 11:15 last Friday night, after the meeting was over, two brothers who worked for a dry cleaners had some clothing in their car that they were getting to another brother, and two white policemen puled up to question them, and — in other words, he probably thought that they were burglars or something or thieves. And when he stopped to question them, they stopped and began to give him whatever information he asked. But he got fresh with them, told them to get up on the curb, which they did, and one brother in explaining it was talking with his hands, and the officer told him, don’t talk with his hands.</p> <p>So he took one hand and held it down. So he brought the other hand, and he was still talking, and the officer grabbed it and started twisting it, and from the information that we’ve been able to gather, the other brother moved in to help him. And when he moved in to help him, the other policeman moved in and a struggle took place. And while they were struggling with each other, a dance hall cop, a cop who is the officer on duty in a dance hall, saw the struggle and he started shooting.</p> <p>This caused an alarm to go out to all police cars, and instead of them coming and converging on the place where the incident was occurring, they went straight to our house of worship, our mosque, which was a block away. And when they got to the mosque, they drew up with their guns drawn and shooting. They were shooting the bullets, not in the air but at the mosque when they pulled up. And the secretary of the mosque, the one who was shot down by them, by being the official, he went up and asked the police what did they want. And it was while he was asking them what did they want that they shot him through the heart. And when he fell to the sidewalk, they beat him in his head and handcuffed him and left him laying there on the sidewalk for 45 minutes…</p> <p>In the shooting that took place, seven men were shot. Seven Muslims were shot. None of them were armed. None of them were struggling. None of them were fighting. None of them were trying to defend themselves at all. And after being taken to the police station, they were held for 48 hours and weren’t even given hospitalization. We have one now who is completely paralyzed. We just got all of them free last night… . And this happened in Los Angeles last Friday night, in the United States of America, not South Africa or France or Portugal or any place else or in Russia behind the iron curtain, but right her in the United States of America… .</p> <p><strong>ELMAN:</strong> Do you welcome an investigation of the matter?</p> <p><strong>MALCOLM X:</strong> The matter should be investigated. The matter should be investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. What do they look like, running all over this country investigating things that are of no consequence, and they haven’t got sense enough to go into Los Angeles and investigate the Gestapo tactics of the police department out there? What do they look like condemning Eichman for what he did in Germany or the Nazis for what they did in Germany, and you’ve got some Gestapo tactics being practiced by the police department in this country against 20 million black people, second class citizens, day in and day out — not only down South but up North. Los Angeles isn’t down South. Los Angeles isn’t in Mississippi. Los Angeles is in the state of California, which produced Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court — and Richard Nixon, the man who was Vice President of this country for some eight or nine years and who wants to run for President again.</p> <p><strong>ELMAN:</strong> Thank you very much, Mr. Malcolm X.</p> <p><strong>MALCOLM X:</strong> You’re welcome.</p></div></div></div> Fri, 11 Mar 2011 20:42:49 +0000 Editor 42 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #16: James Farmer Debate http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p><span>Malcolm X continued his string of college debates with an appearance in 1961 at Cornell University against CORE executive director, James Farmer. Sponsored by the Cornell Committee Against Segregation, the speech was on a familiar theme: “Integration or Segregation.” Although the pitting of a prominent integrationist against Malcolm’s separatist attitude was a familiar one, the black nationalist leader was caught off-guard by Farmer and CORE’s stance, which was significantly more militant than the attitudes of the more conservative NAACP he had previously debated. The Freedom Riders of the year before had made significant strides in the south and challenged Malcolm’s position that integration was an untenable position. Despite Malcolm’s attacks on integration as a solution promoted only by the black middle class, Farmer challenged him with a better solution: “We know the disease, physician, what is your cure? What is your program and how do you hope to bring it into effect?” Ultimately, Malcolm resorted to the charge that Farmer was married to a white woman. However, despite the ineffectiveness of many of his arguments at the debate, Malcolm continued to make inroads among CORE’s constituents and other more activist-oriented movements. What also continued to make Malcolm’s position difficult is Elijah Muhammad’s insistence that he remain silent on political matters. The following year, he wrote his national spokesman: “When you go to these Colleges and Universities to represent the Teachings that Allah has revealed to me for our people, do not go too much into the details of the political side … speak only what you know they have heard me say or that which you yourself have heard me say” (MXC-S, box 3, folder 8). The debate with Farmer was emblematic of Malcolm’s tenuous position within the Nation and foreshadowed greater challenges he would face in the coming years. </span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span><hr /></span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Citation: Malcolm X FBI File, Summary Report, New York Office, May 17, 1962, p. 23. </em></p><p><span><img src="/sites/default/files/u4/Malcolm-X-FBI-File.gif" alt="Citation: Malcolm X FBI File, Summary Report, New York Office, May 17, 1962, p. 23. " title="Citation: Malcolm X FBI File, Summary Report, New York Office, May 17, 1962, p. 23. " width="415" height="554" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /><br /></span></p></div></div></div> Fri, 11 Mar 2011 20:37:13 +0000 Editor 41 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #15: Bayard Rustin Debate http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>Despite some trepidation from Elijah Muhammad, who viewed forays into the public intellectual sphere with skepticism, Malcolm X undertook a series of college debates in the early 1960s with significant figures in the Civil Rights Movement. One of these was a debate with a longtime civil rights activist Bayard Rustin at the prominent black college, Howard University, in Washington D.C. The events leading up to the debate, however, illustrated the divisive position that Malcolm and the NOI held within the black community. After inviting him to speak as part of Negro History Week in February 1961 by the campus chapter of the NAACP, the group could not secure approval from the Student Activities Office. The students then rescheduled at New Bethel Baptist Church, but the church later balked, saying that the expected audience was too large for the venue. </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>How the lecture came to fruition in October as a debate with Bayard Rustin is still mysterious. It is possible that E. Franklin Frazier, who had been associated with the University since the mid-1930s, intervened by convincing the school that an integrationist voice like Rustin’s be present to counterbalance Malcolm X’s separatism. According to Rustin, though, Malcolm had broached the subject of the canceled lecture and Rustin replied that he could convince Howard if he agreed to his terms: “You’ll present your view, and I’ll present a view which says that you’re a fraud. You have no political, no social, no economic program for dealing with the black community and its problem.” Malcolm allegedly took the challenge and Rustin wrote to the Howard University president, who supported the debate. Rustin claimed that the University was reluctant to have Malcolm alone because it could jeopardize its federal funding. </span></p> <p><span>The debate took place before a capacity crowd of fifteen hundred with five hundred left outside of Cramden Auditorium. Eager to avenge a debate against Rustin the year before on WBAI radio in which he had been clearly outwitted, Malcolm rallied the crowd by speaking not as “a Republican, Democrat, Christian or Jew, and certainly not as an American” but as a “BLACK MAN!” Although Rustin pressed against the NOI’s weak point, the unlikelihood of a separate state, Malcolm had captured the support of the more radical student audience and left the old-guard of Howard University teetering. A professor left the auditorium saying: “Howard will never be the same. I feel a reluctance to face my class tomorrow.” Malcolm X and Rustin continued to cross paths over the next several years in debates and at the 1963 March on Washington - Rustin as a chief architect and Malcolm as an observer and critic.</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span><hr /></span></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>Citation: “1500 Hear Integration - Non-Segregation Debate,” Chicago Defender, November 11, 1961. </em></p><p><span><img src="/sites/default/files/u4/Chicago-Defender-November-11-1961.gif" alt="Citation: “1500 Hear Integration - Non-Segregation Debate,” Chicago Defender, November 11, 1961" title="Citation: “1500 Hear Integration - Non-Segregation Debate,” Chicago Defender, November 11, 1961" width="318" height="600" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /><br /></span></p></div></div></div> Tue, 08 Mar 2011 20:31:18 +0000 Editor 39 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #14: The NOI and George Lincoln Rockwell http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>Although George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party (ANP), may have seemed ideologically incongruous with the attitudes and theology of the Nation of Islam, both he and Elijah Muhammad found reasons in the early 1960s to coordinate and discuss strategies of racial separation. In one of the more bizarre pairings since Marcus Garvey sat down with KKK imperial wizard Edward Young Clarke in 1922, Rockwell and the NOI had a standing relationship for the better part of two years in which he and the ANP attended several meetings and wrote articles supporting the black separatist group. Although Malcolm X was always uncomfortable with the relationship, Rockwell had little trouble finding common ground; just a year after Malcolm’s assassination, in an interview with Alex Haley, Rockwell pronounced: “Malcolm X said the same thing I’m saying.”</span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>The coalition between the ANP and NOI was not without precedent. Earlier in 1961, Malcolm and Minister Jeremiah Shabazz had secretly met with the KKK in Atlanta, just as Garvey had done nearly 40 years earlier. The meeting’s purpose was to secure farmland in the south for NOI business ventures while forming a pact of non-aggression with the local Klan. The formal declaration of the ANP’s relationship with the Nation came at a “Freedom Rally” in Washington D.C. at Uline Arena before a crowd of 8,000. Rockwell and twenty “storm troopers” gathered to hear Malcolm X deliver a speech entitled “Separation or Death.” Rockwell stated that he disagreed with the Muslims only on the point of land: “They want a chunk of America and I prefer that they go to Africa.” </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>In January 1962, Rockwell wrote to his followers in the Party’s newspaper, <em>The Rockwell Report</em>, that Elijah Muhammad “has gathered millions of the dirty, immoral, drunken, filthy-mouthed, lazy and repulsive people sneeringly called ‘niggers’ and inspired them to the point where they are clean, sober, honest, hard working, dignified, dedicated and admirable human beings in spite of their color.” The following month, Rockwell was invited to attend the NOI’s sacred yearly convention, Saviour’s Day, in Chicago. There he addressed the crowd of 12,000 in full Nazi regalia, stating that “no American white desires to intermix with black people.” He then contributed twenty dollars to a collection plate being passed around; when Malcolm X asked who had given the money one storm trooper shouted “George Lincoln Rockwell,” who then stood to take a smattering of applause. Malcolm chided, “You got the biggest hand you ever got.” Rockwell’s appearance at NOI functions dwindled, but he was spotted in May of 1963 at the Los Angeles trial following the death of mosque member Ronald Stokes. Certainly the affinity between the NOI and the ANP was not well-conceived and Malcolm X later used the meeting with the KKK as leverage against Elijah Muhammad once their relationship had soured. But, the continued negotiations with white racists during a time in which blacks in the South were being beaten, harassed and murdered, is one of the most disturbing in the history of the NOI and Malcolm X’s career. </span></p><p class="NoSpacing" style="text-align: center;"><span><hr /></span></p><p class="NoSpacing" style="text-align: center;"><span><span>Citation: </span></span><span>George Lincoln Rockwell, “Black Muslims Hear US Nazi,” <em>The Rockwell Report</em>, April 1, 1962.</span></p><p class="NoSpacing"><span><img src="/sites/default/files/u4/Black-Muslims-Hear-US-Nazi.gif" alt="The Rockwell Report, April 1, 1962." title="The Rockwell Report, April 1, 1962." width="434" height="600" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" /><br /></span></p></div></div></div> Tue, 08 Mar 2011 04:13:57 +0000 Editor 38 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #13: Fidel Castro in Harlem http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>Malcolm’s exposure to post-colonial and third world revolutionaries continued the year after his trip to the Middle East, but this time it was a domestic affair. Fidel Castro, premier of the new Cuban regime, was attending the United Nations General Assembly in September 1960 when he and his entourage became incensed over the bill at New York’s Shelburne Hotel. Castro proposed that his delegation would sleep in Central Park: “We are mountain people. We are used to sleeping in the open air.” Malcolm quickly saw an opportunity as a member of Harlem’s welcoming committee which invited Castro to stay at Harlem’s Hotel Theresa, just blocks from Mosque 7 and the Shabazz luncheonette. The two men met at slightly past midnight in the Cuban premier’s suite. Castro’s move to Harlem was clearly a political one, and many criticized him for such obvious pandering. Likewise, Malcolm’s late-night meeting with the Cuban revolutionary also seemed tactical and was met by criticism, yet unlike Castro, his critics were largely internal.</span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>The meeting itself lasted less than an hour and, although details are sketchy, was attended by</span><em><span> Amsterdam</span></em><span> <em>News</em> journalist James Booker and staff photographer Carl Nesfield, who captured the meeting. Malcolm was accompanied by Captain Joseph and John Ali according to another black journalist allowed to attend, Ralph Matthews. Close assistant Benjamin Karim later claimed that Malcolm tried to “fish” Castro to the NOI. In general, though, Malcolm tried to remain non-committal in his support of Castro or the Cuban regime, and reportedly turned down an offer to visit Cuba. However, although this may have been an attempt to uphold the NOI’s policy of political disengagement, his order that the Fruit of Islam be deployed on 24-hour alert to “assist Castro in the event of any anti-Castro demonstrations” implied that he still viewed the meeting as an opportunity to bolster the NOI’s domestic and international reputation. By the time the Castro had left, Malcolm X remained the only U.S. leader with whom the premier had met during his visit. Cubans too saw that possibilities of joining forces with black militant groups in the U.S. and quickly renamed Havana’s pricey Riveria Hotel in honor of the Hotel Theresa. Conversely, Elijah Muhammad saw the entire event as a charade and unnecessary public display of partisanship. Although strong discord between Muhammad, his family, and Malcolm X was still several years away, the meeting with Castro was another early warning sign of conflicting political strategy between Muhammad and the soon-to-be-named National Spokesman of the NOI.<span>&nbsp; </span></span></p></div></div></div> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 01:34:34 +0000 Editor 24 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #12: “The Hate That Hate Produced” http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>By 1959, the Nation of Islam had become recognizable to the general public, although it was viewed by many as a marginal “hate” group not unlike George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party. Among those interested in the burgeoning group was C. Eric Lincoln, a young doctoral student who began research on his work <em>The Black Muslims in America</em>, which would become a seminal text on the NOI. Louis Lomax, a black journalist, also pitched the idea of a documentary series on the Nation to media personality Mike Wallace. With Malcolm X out of the country on his first trip abroad, the series aired in New York from July 13 - 17, 1959 in five half-hour increments. More than the Johnson Hinton affair or any of Malcolm’s previous public appearances, “The Hate That Hate Produced,” introduced the NOI to a general audience. </span></p> <p><span>Unfortunately for the Nation, the primary thrust of the broadcast - encapsulated in its name - was of an integrationist perspective. The series threatened white liberal viewers by portraying the sect as a vengeful and reactionary answer to racism in America. Eager to distance themselves, civil rights leaders quickly denounced the NOI and the public perception of Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad as black demagogues was further exacerbated. Despite this negative publicity, the series acted as a springboard to all those involved. Mike Wallace would go on to cover the 1960 presidential campaign and eventually land with CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Lomax continued to maintain a relationship with the NOI and published several books in which the group served as a major topic. For the Nation of Islam, the series was yet another introduction to a wider audience and showed the possibilities for growth that such publicity offered. After putting out the flames fanned by the documentary, Malcolm X began working over the next couple years to produce a monthly newspaper, <em>Mr.</em> <em>Muhammad Speaks</em>, which would spread the word of Elijah Muhammad to both a Muslim and non-Muslim audience. Although the lesson in public affairs would serve Malcolm well in garnering more attention to the Nation, it also furthered internal criticisms from Chicago headquarters that such publicity was driven primarily by vanity and self-promotion. </span></p></div></div></div> Thu, 03 Mar 2011 06:24:37 +0000 Editor 21 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #11: Middle East Travels http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>One of the periods most responsible for Malcolm X’s early religious and political development is also one of the most obscured. Along with greater visibility amongst black and white Americans, the Nation of Islam had also intrigued emerging Muslim states in Africa and the Middle East. Following the NOI’s support for the first Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference, held in Cairo, Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser extended an invitation to Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad turned to his most trusted lieutenant, Malcolm X, to travel abroad first and make the necessary preparations. Although he intended to make <em>Hajj</em>, a requirement of the five pillars of Islam, Malcolm was delayed and set off from New York on July 3, 1959. Seeing him off from the airport was the Egyptian attaché to the United Nations, Ahmad Zaki El Borai. Borai’s presence was a preview of the royal treatment he would soon come to appreciate; for three weeks Malcolm traveled and stayed amongst heads of state and luminaries of the Muslim world. <span> </span></span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>The first eleven days of Malcolm’s trip were spent in Cairo, where he met several times with Anwar el Sadat and heads of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University. Despite a personal invitation from Nasser, Malcolm declined as the mere “forerunner and humble servant of Elijah Muhammad.” Although he enjoyed the pleasures of being an esteemed guest abroad, staying at the Kandarah Palace Hotel in Saudi Arabia and the Grand Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan, Malcolm was also laid up for several days with dysentery, suffered from the excessive heat, and felt increasingly embarrassed by his meager knowledge of orthodox Muslim rituals. After traveling on to Ghana briefly, he returned home on July 22.</span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Malcolm’s trip to the Middle East was not only of great interest to Nasser and the Egyptian government, who reportedly viewed the Nation of Islam as an important “minority pressure group,” but also to the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Services (BOSS). Abdel Basit Naeem, a Pakistani Muslim who acted as a consultant to the NOI and made Malcolm X’s travel arrangements, updated BOSS on the trip. In his report, he noted that Malcolm encouraged Muhammad to move the sect towards greater synchronization with orthodox Islam. Malcolm advised that the leader study Arabic before going to Egypt and planned to return in six months. Perhaps due to Malcolm’s advice, or to his own experiences in the Middle East in early 1960, Muhammad did in fact move the NOI in this direction: “temples” were renamed “mosques,” Arabic instruction was instituted, and his son Akbar was sent to study at Al-Azhar University. For Malcolm personally, the trip introduced him to the possibilities of placing the NOI within the <em>ummah</em>, or world community of Islam. It also offered even greater prominence within the organization; just days after leaving for Cairo, an announcement at Temple 7 was made that Malcolm would need a home of his own in the future, to “welcome distinguished visitors.”</span></p></div></div></div> Thu, 03 Mar 2011 06:24:22 +0000 Editor 20 at http://malcolmxbio.com Malcolmology 101, #10: Police Brutality in Queens http://malcolmxbio.com/ <div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="NoSpacing"><span>Malcolm had actively thrust himself into the Johnson X Hinton affair in 1957, gaining public prominence for the Nation of Islam. The following year, however, police violence came to him. While Malcolm spoke at Boston’s Mosque 11 on May 13, 1958, two New York police detectives, Joseph Kiernan and Michael Bonura, forced their way into the East Elmhurst home he and his wife shared with two other Muslim couples, including future NOI National Secretary John Ali. Allegedly searching for a mail fraud suspect, the officers were rebuffed at the door by 27-year-old Yvonne Molette when they failed to produce a search warrant. The officers were furious with the lack of cooperation and returned shortly with a federally issued warrant which was checked at the door by Molette’s husband, John, who had rushed home from work. He claimed police then kicked and shoved him aside, smashing glass in an attempt to enter. Meanwhile, another officer had climbed a rear stairway leading to the upstairs rooms of Malcolm and Betty; he then fired several shots into the home, just feet below six waiting women and children. One of the women, 17-year-old Audrey Rice, was six months pregnant, as was Betty with the couple’s first child, Attallah.<br /></span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>Malcolm returned to a home decimated by broken glass, bullet holes, and shattered windows. Furthermore, his wife had been arrested along with five others. Although significantly smaller than the crowd of the Hinton beating, a group of forty was quickly assembled and picketed the Astoria precinct. As he would do in later police brutality cases, Malcolm drew parallels between the well publicized police tactics of the South and the ongoing mistreatment of northern blacks by government officials: “Negroes in Mississippi could not have their civil rights as openly violated and stomped upon any worse than has been done here in Queens County Courthouse.” </span></p> <p class="NoSpacing"><span>The trial had a life of its own, lasting several weeks and featuring dramatic testimonies and evidence. The five on trial, including Betty, faced five years and one-thousand dollar fines each. John Molette testified to being beaten, kicked, and dragged out of the home, and his wife Yvonne gave such a stirring account that defense attorney Edward Jacko began crying and had to excuse himself from the courtroom. The Nation of Islam had a remarkable presence at the trial, filling the court daily with hundreds of followers. Surely due in part to Malcolm’s impeccable appreciation for details, as well his understanding of how to gather the sympathies of a crowd, the Nation also submitted a stack of photographs and several scale drawings of the East Elmhurst home (composed by John Ali); they also brought the front door as evidence before the court, replete with signs of struggle and gunfire. In fact, as one paper reported, the NOI provided its own court stenographer and even controlled who could enter the courtroom, their orderly presence so noticeable that one white court attendant remarked: “we should put their officers on our payroll. They do a better job that [sic] we do.” </span></p> <p><span>Although the Nation of Islam is often understood as distinct from the Civil Rights Movement, due in large part to Elijah Muhammad’s own reluctance to involve what he saw as a economically pragmatic religious movement in political matters, Malcolm X had begun as early as 1959 to insert the organization in such discussions. Despite thirty-one outright acquittals and the edict of a mistrial, Malcolm charged that the court refused to see the case as a civil rights matter, despite clearly being a case of “Force of Authority vs. the Rights of People.” And, although the police involved were never charged, city officials felt heat from the case and eventually agreed to pay a small settlement in response to a lawsuit filed by Betty Shabazz. </span></p></div></div></div> Thu, 03 Mar 2011 06:23:35 +0000 Editor 19 at http://malcolmxbio.com