In this Feb. 9, 1965 file photo, Malcolm X is shown at London Airport, after he was barred from entering France. A New York judge is set to hear arguments by heirs of Malcolm X who seek to stop a Chicago company from publishing the activist leader’s diaries. Lawyers for the heirs plan to tell a federal judge in Manhattan Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, that Third World Press in Chicago does not have the right to publish “The Diary of Malcolm X.” (AP Photo/Victor Boynton, File)
The social and cultural impact the late civil rights leader and human rights champion Malcolm X still maintains in today’s modern society is an amazing example of the his valuable existence. While the former Nation of Islam minister’s criminal past and fiery vocal assaults against the White power structure at large often defined him, it was his later acceptance of humanity as a many-hued tapestry that broadened his global appeal.
University of Washington opinion writer and student Dylan Teague McDonald examined in a piece for “The Daily” the values and significance of Malcolm X, taking care to aim his examination of the icon squarely on the constant fight for personal improvement present in every fiber of his being. What McDonald also notes is that Malcolm X stayed true to the values of freedom, justice and equality, but also did so by tempering his infamous passion in order to reach wider masses. As many celebrate Malcolm X’s birthday on this date as a personal holiday, McDonald feels that the leader is often pushed aside in favor of other historic figures.
When young people, especially black youth, are constantly marginalized and prejudged by the education and employment systems, a figure like Malcolm X appeals to a fundamental desire to speak and be heard. These times make so many people feel powerless; why do anything less than promote a figure who empowers and inspires the disenfranchised? Malcolm’s message makes many people uncomfortable because it involves actively pursuing that which one deserves.
When, in the spirit of equality, you have been placed at a disadvantage, you do everything you can to level the playing field. You do not wait patiently to be given that which is yours, and you do not thank those who withhold it from you when you finally get it. To quote the man himself: “How can you thank a man for giving you what’s already yours? How then can you thank him for giving you only part of what’s already yours? You haven’t even made progress, if what’s being given to you, you should have had already. That’s not progress.”
Read the rest of McDonald’s excellent birthday tribute and remembrance of Malcolm X here.