RapFix enacted a Black History Month series this past February and one of the features was an interview with rapper and Black Star alum Talib Kweli along with MTV News host Sway. Sway pointed a question towards Talib referencing the important and continuing relevance of the legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. "Without trying to disrespect anybody's beliefs, [Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X] are our prophets for our generation," Kweli said. "In the scope of history, they haven't been gone for too long. Someone asked me 'Do you think the spirit of King is in hip-hop?' And if you think about it, hip-hop wouldn't exist without King. Our whole movement is based on Dr. King and Malcolm X."
Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, young Malcolm was the son of a proud and self-reliant father but as a teenager lost his father to death. Around the same time, his mother was committed to a mental hospital which led Malcolm to a life of petty crime. His criminal acts led him to Boston and New York and in 1946, he was sentenced to prison. While in prison, Malcolm began to embrace the radical Black Muslim faction of the Nation Of Islam. After his parole in 1952, he was elevated to a national post as spokesman for the Nation and became the face of the organization.
Although a staunch advocate of black supremacy, Malcolm's stances and beliefs began to soften and in 1964 he left the Nation Of Islam and became an orthodox Sunni Muslim thus changing his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. While he relaxed a lot of his pro-black rhetoric and vitriolic words, he still preached self-determination and togetherness. His pilgrimage to Mecca, deemed mandatory by some Muslims, helped to widen Shabazz's world view and he saw Islam as a way to bridge all races and cultures together under the banner of spiritualty.
El-Hall Malik El-Shabazz - commonly known throughout the world as Malcolm X - would have celebrated his 86th birthday today if not for his tragic murder in 1965 in Manhattan at the hands of three of his former Nation of Islam compatriots. The controversial leader was one of the faces of a turbulent era in the 1960s where blacks were fighting for basic rights. The Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s continually owe a great debt to Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, W.E.B. Dubois and Ms. Rosa Parks.
Rest In Peace to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz aka Malcolm X. Your legacy still lives on in all of us.