While incarcerated, Malcolm discovered The Nation of Islam and changed his last name to X, to sever what was considered his, “slave ties.”
In the young man, the NOI’s kingpin, Elijah Muhammad, saw all the elements of a great leader as well a successor.
Malcolm quickly rose to local and then national prominence as a leader and speaker for the NOI. Listening to his hate-filled statements and incendiary comments, you would think this man hated all white people. Nothing,
I believe, could be further from the truth. He was a man of strong conviction and saw the wrong that was being done, hating that.
He was certainly angry, and justifiably so. After all, everything he had seen up to that point basically told him that all white people hated black people. Then, of course, there was the ‘honorable’ Elijah Muhammed and his followers that made certain Malcolm was deeply rooted in that school of thought.
For years this was the case, until Malcolm saw Muhammad for who he truly was!
A powerful manipulator using his influence to molest the NOI’s young women and control its men. While there were those that sought to silence and assuage his concerns, Malcolm could not ignore what he knew to be true.
After he harshly criticized John F. Kennedy in the days following the young President’s assassination, Muhammad silenced Malcolm for 90 days. It was Malcolm’s trip to Mecca, however that changed everything. It was during this time, as stated in his autobiography, that he met “men that didn’t look like him yet called him brother.” All these things had an effect.
Malcolm’s perception changed.
Shortly thereafter, he denounced Elijah Muhammed, as well as the teachings and doctrine of the NOI. Less than a year later, he was assassinated; by three of his former, ‘brothers,’ members of the Nation of Islam.
If you are like me, the information provided is news to you. This is because the militant, radical Malcolm X that generations have heard and seen propagated, like that of him pictured looking out of his window with an M1 Carbine rifle at his side is the image meant drive a racist “us against them” narrative. However, the truth behind that famous image is that Malcolm was protecting himself not from white racist groups, but from the black members of the Nation Of Islam under direct orders from Elijah Muhammad.
Truth be told, those of us that are Black and conservative would be surprised to discover that we have more in common with Malcom X than Martin Luther King. While it is true that both Martin and Malcolm were both fighting for civil rights, it was Malcolm that was forced to realize that he was on the wrong side of history by aligning with the NOI- and, for lack of a better term, switched teams in the middle of the season. Making a
stand for truth always comes at a cost.
Few understand this more than the black conservative.
If only by perception alone, we were considered part of the team, one of the guys (or girls), i.e., a member of the group. Somehow, somewhere along the way, we realized that we had concerns about the way the team operated.
We found that lies were being told and truths were being covered up. We were challenged as well to ignore
what we knew to be true, and to perpetuate dangerous, even deadly narratives. When voicing our concerns, we were ridiculed belittled and in some cases subdued into silence.
Yet we, like Malcolm, found that a stand is not a stand without opposition.
What was Malcolm’s sin, you may ask?
Independence. Thinking for yourself has always been a challenge against those looking to control. To them, it is more like a cancer. Rather than a sickness to be cured, it must be removed before it spreads.
This was not only Malcolm’s sin; it has also been mine. I pray that it is also yours.
***Editor’s Note: If you missed the first half of this article, click here.