“The True worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.” Mother Mary McCloud Bethune (As in all of my posts, underlined words are links.) I am dedicating all of my remaining posts this year to Black African American females because a race can rise no higher than its’ females.
I was 13 years old when I heard about the assassination of Minister Malcolm X on, Sunday, February 21, 1965. We were living in North Philadelphia when I saw the news flash on TV and I still remember how angry I was.
I was angry because of Minister Malcolm’s assassination, yet I was angrier with my parents for seeming to be indifferent and somewhat relieved with Minister Malcolm’s assassination. I remember vividly looking at both of my parents and thinking they were glad of Minister Malcolm’s death, because now they could continue living as “good Negroes (we were “Negroes” back then).” My thoughts were that they no longer had to feel guilty about not joining Minister Malcolm’s liberation efforts, now that he was assassinated.
There was no women in my neighborhood crying or wailing because of Minister Malcolm’s assassination as they did with President John F. Kennedy’s (JFK) assassination. I remember that Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963, sitting in class at Gillespie Junior High School when they announced the early dismissal of school because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Arriving home, I was angry with my mother for sitting in front of the TV crying because someone had killed this White man. For me, I agreed with Minister Malcolm when he said, “Another chicken had come home to roost.”
Of course, I had to keep my thoughts to myself otherwise; I would have experienced the wrath of my mother for dishonoring the memory of the first President since Abraham Lincoln who she, like most “Negroes” felt actually cared about we “Negroes” – what a joke.
I was almost 12 years old, when JKF was assassinated, and I was aware of my militancy and rage at seeing the atrocities of Birmingham (“bombingham”) and all of the other racist atrocities that were occurring not only in the South, but throughout America, including Philadelphia, Pa., “The City of Brotherly Love.”
I knew that JFK had “played” the “Negroes” well when he called Mrs. Coretta King , feigning concern that her husband, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) had been arrested. It was this phone call and a subsequent letter to the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which gave JFK the “Negro” vote, enabling him to defeat Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election. In actuality, everything JFK did was a calculated ruse to further his own political agenda.
My mother and many of the other “Negro” women in the neighborhood were physically distraught at the death of JFK and they stayed glued to their televisions throughout the airing of his funeral. I suspect this is because they were saddened at the death of their “Great White Hope” and “Shining White Night, who the media portrayed as “Camelot.” What was the “Negro” going to do now that “Jack” was gone? Who was going to phone Mrs. King the next time Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed?
The only tears shed in our home because of the death of “Our Shining Black Prince,” Minister Malcolm were mine – and I had to cry in secret in fear of ridicule from my family. Nor did I have a chance to watch much news coverage because we only had one television set and I had very little if any say about which station it was on and what was being aired. Therefore, I had to formulate my own conclusion about Minister Malcolm’s death with the limited information I was privy to.
I was angry because I had been secretly reading “Muhammad Speaks” newspapers and whenever I became aware of Minister Malcolm coming to Philadelphia, I would “steal away,” and go and hear his teaching and hope that my mother never found out.
I would go to the Philadelphia Mosque and listen to tapes of Minister Malcolm and the last one I heard before his assassination was “Message to Grassroots” which he gave on November 10, 1963. Minister Malcolm told us that America’s problem was “us” and we were too ignorant to realize it. He talked about America’s desires to get rid of us “Negroes” from this country by any means necessary.
The Minister said we all had one common enemy, which was the White man and the sooner we realized it, the sooner we could develop a positive strategy to save our race and ourselves. We were taught, wherever Africans were throughout the Diaspora, the White race in general and the White man in particular was oppressing us. This is still true today, in 2015.
Minister Malcolm was telling us to engage in an armed revolutionary struggle in America to gain our freedom. For the first time in my young life, I realized that Black African people throughout the Diaspora were in a revolutionary struggle against the White race.
Yet, those of us in America was singing and praying for the chance to integrate with America’s White race. We joined (including myself) White America’s military to go and fight other Black, Brown and Yellow skinned people who were fighting White people in an attempt to gain their freedom.
During this speech, Minister Malcolm told us about that three-ring circus, called “The March on Washington.” He taught us about Mr. Stephen Currier and the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership. The purpose of the creation of this group was to put what Minister Malcolm called “The Big Six” (NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), The National Council of Negro Women, CORE, SCLC, SNCC), in charge of the “March on Washington,” because it was initially a grassroots movement.
The original plans were for us (meaning Black African Americans) to go to DC and totally disrupt the operations of the American government by simultaneously marching on all of the “Seats of Power,” in addition to causing huge traffic jams and even going to the airport and laying down on the runways. This would indeed have been revolutionary.
To prevent this from occurring, Mr. Stephen Currier promised Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Whitney Young, and the rest of the “Big Six” a million and a half dollars. This money was to be divided among them, if they would adhere to the government’s script on the “March on Washington.” They selected Mr. Whitney Young as Chairman and Mr. Stephen Currier, a White man was his Co-Chairman.
The government (President Kennedy, his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, along with J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI COINTELPRO) told the marchers what time to arrive in D.C., what signs to carry, what songs to sing, what speeches to speak and to all be out of town by sundown. Washington, D.C. on that day was considered a “Sundown Town,” like many other southern towns; meaning all Black African Americans had to be off of the streets by “sundown” or face dire consequences.
These “Civil Rights Leaders” were so totally obedient to the White Man’s script, and mandate, that Congressman John Lewis was ordered by the Whitehouse to rewrite his speech, which he did because it was considered too inflammatory. By the way, how did the White House know the content of the speech(s), unless they were submitted in advance, for prior approval?
As long as Minister Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (“NOI”), held Minister Malcolm in check, he did not pose a significant enough threat to America and the world’s White Power Structure. After breaking away from the “NOI,” Minister Malcolm became a “Black Nationalist,” which made him the most dangerous “Black” (we were Black then) man in America, if not the world.
He began connecting Black African American’s struggle with Black Africans throughout the Diaspora and asking Black African leaders to argue Black African American’s plight at the United Nations, charging America with “Apartheid” and racial genocide. This is the reason Minister Malcolm X was assassinated.
I was also angry with the men who assassinated Minister Malcolm. In my 13-year-old mind, I was convinced that Elijah Muhammad ordered his assassination because of jealousy. I was aware that Minister Malcolm was the soul and spirit of the “NOI” and when he left to start his own organization, he would be pulling many soldiers from the “NOI.” I have since realized “our” Federal Government ordered the assassination of Minister Malcolm X.
I thought; here we go again, “divide and conquer” (Willie Lynch), because we were becoming too powerful as a race. How could they do this to us? How could we do this to ourselves? Just when we were about to develop a unified agenda for our liberation, we turned on each other – again!
On the 50th Anniversary of Minister Malcolm X’s assassination, I was attending the 37th annual Cross Cultural Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This was a three-day conference and the theme was “Building Communities of Hope and Resiliency.”
Minister Malcolm X’s name was never publicly mentioned during this three-day conference, which was attended mostly by Black African American Mental Health Professionals. There was not a moment of silence, nor were there any remarks pertaining to the greatest loss of Black African American leadership during my lifetime.
WHAT WOULD MINISTER MALCOLM X SAY?
While attending the various plenary and breakout sessions, I asked myself several times how Minister Malcolm would feel about our racial progress, or the lack of. I imagine he would first ask, “Why are you all meeting and staying in this White-owned hotel and conference center discussing the plight of Black African Americans?
Are you aware that after 37 years, you have practically paid for this building, yet, you do not have anything to show for it except pictures? The money you are spending here could be best utilized in purchasing your own hotel and conference center and then be able to boast of the progress the Cross-Cultural Conference is making towards “Building Communities of Hope and Resiliency,” by buying and owning land.
I can also hear Minister Malcolm X asking, “How do you expect anything positive to come out of such doom and gloom conferences? Every one of the workshops as well as the plenary sessions that I attended focused on the fact that Black African Americans are last in everything positive and first in everything negative.
Minister Malcolm X would admonish us for wasting the last 37 years talking loud and doing nothing. The only thing we “conscious” attendees at this conference can take back to our perspective communities is the fact that “We Black African Americans have not because we do not.”
When a female attendee appearing to be my age said to me, “I don’t know why our churches won’t use their vans to pick up our kids after school and take them to their churches and provide some type of program or supervision for them. Every one of our churches has a van, and they could pay an additional insurance rider to do this.
I felt Minister Malcolm smiling when I asked if her church was providing this valuable service. I qualified my question by informing her that I do not attend church, so I do not have a voice in what takes place in these churches.
This woman replied, “We just got a new Pastor and he is still learning his way.” I asked if it was possible for her and other like-minded members to “Point the way” for their pastor? After much prodding, she finally said, “I belong to an AME church and we get a new Pastor about every year or two. Pastors come to our church in hopes of moving up to larger churches and hopefully promoted to Bishops.”
I replied that she and the rest of her congregation were being used to advance the financial aspirations of many Pastors who utilize her church as a stepping-stone to bigger churches, and she said, “That’s how they do it.”
I reminded her that when I grew up in the church, most of the Pastors I knew were trying to literally feed their flocks, because their flocks were literally starving for food. Today, most of the Pastors seem to be fleecing their flocks by getting their flocks to feed, clothe, shelter and provide them with huge bank accounts, luxury homes, fancy automobiles and airplanes.
She just looked at me as if she was a deer caught in my headlights, so I realized it made no sense for me to continue this conversation with her. I also asked if she ever heard of the “Black Boule” and she replied, yes, I am a AKA and we hold a Boule every year.”
At this point, I knew it would be futile for me to point out the fact that many of those attending this 37th Annual Cross-Cultural Conference boast of membership in one of the nine Black African American fraternities and sororities. In fact, one of the officers of this conference wore his Fraternity cap throughout the conference. He did not even have enough respect for his own religion to remove his cap during the many “Prayers.”
Sadly, the only thing of benefit I got out of this 37th Annual Cross-Cultural Conference was 23 hours of Continuing Education Units (CEU’s), which is really all that I expected to get. Every year, it is the same old “same-o.” Speeches are given regarding the dismal state of our race; plaques are given to the best speakers and not the best doers; the same leadership re-elect themselves and the beat goes on and on and on. Let us not forget the three nights of partying and bull-shucking and bull-shucking and partying.
Oh, what a blessing it is that my people do not read, think, or use common sense, says the Pastors, Pimps, and Politicians.