Malcolm X: A Cultural Revolutionary
Malcolm X was known not because he was a martyr to the cause of civil rights or because of any inherent contributions he may have made to the solution of the black race problem, but because he was the uncompromising symbol of resistance and the spokesman for the non-nonviolent “black man” in America. Malcolm X had achieved this position due to his belief that the civil rights had merely tokenism gains towards the improvement of black Americans, although in a major thrust for racial integration (“Encyclopedia of World Biography”). His goal towards racial equality motivated him to call upon all sections of the black community and to formulate a solution to the problems facing black Americans, allowing him to pursue his dream of a world where his people will walk in freedom and dignity (Clarke, Bailey, and Grant 4). Thus, to achieve this dream, Malcolm X proactively advocated his philosophy of Black Nationalism and revolutionized the black mind, greatly impacting the cultural consciousness of African-Americans during the second half of the 20th century in the United States.
In 1965, Malcolm X shocked America when he proclaimed in his speech that African Americans must overcome racism and oppression by “any means necessary” (Mis 4). X attained this concept when he became Nation of Islam’s most effective spokesman and minister, “espousing Islamic principles and the words of Elijah Muhammad” (Lee). Furthermore, his experiences in NOI lead him to become a fiery orator urging blacks to live separately from whites (Mis 12). When Malcolm X broke relations with the Nation of Islam by March of 1964, he attempted to carry many of the concepts he had learned into his new venture. Soon afterward, he returns to the United States with “far more moderate views and repudiates racism” (Lee). He also sought cooperation with Martin Luther King, Jr., and to other civil rights activists, although advocating a contradictory principle. Malcolm X rejected nonviolence as a principle. However, championing black self-determination and self defense, X had successfully driven a variety of audiences to listen to his speeches, leaving behind a legacy that contributed to the emergence of the Black Power movement and other radical black activists advocating black nationalism. Although Malcolm X was not an advocate of violence, he became a potential “liberator” leading blacks to a revolutionary struggle against the hated whites (Clarke, Bailey, and Grant 10).
By 1959, the Black Muslim movement found its way to the national spotlight, garnering a membership of more than a hundred thousand. “Racial tensions came to its boiling point and white Americans grew fearful of Malcolm X’s message of black supremacy” (“Encyclopedia of World Biography”). This became a major factor leading to the radicalization of the civil rights movement in 1963. The Black Muslims, and their charismatic spokesman, Malcolm X, were a distinct help to the civil rights...