Malcolm Little, Michigan Red, Malcolm X, El Hadj Malik As Shabazz…gunned down at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan 47 years ago.
His name appears on street signs; his gaunt face on posters, tee shirts, and sweat shirts. Children are named after him, and yet he has slipped through the cracks of the larger US society, where radicals are rarely embraced.
The late Manning Marable’s life work, ‘Malcolm X: a life of reinvention’ came out in 2011 immediately after the Columbia University professor’s untimely death. The book challenged many look held notions about the Black Muslim leader, and has lead to much discussion among black American intellectuals, social critics, and scholars.
Malcolm X’s ideas today have relevance still. As the Republican Party has embraced Nixon’s and Reagan’s ‘southern strategy’, even among the Party’s candidates, vying for the Elephant party’s nomination for its standard bearer in the 2012 presidential election, the old code words, the old shibboleths attacking Afro Americans have taken on new life. Not only that, the GOP has caved into to its reactionary wing, and in states with Republican governors there is a consistent campaign to deny the blacks, the elderly, and the poor the right to vote.
Suddenly, the clock is turned back to the worst practices of segregationist America.
Suddenly, too, the timeliness of some of Malcolm X’s preaching take on new life. Even though the US has much changed since Malik As Shabaaz’s pilgrimage to Mecca and his adoption of Sunni Islam, the 2008 global recession and the racism which the Republican party wear on their arm makes him significant today.