Friday, May 19, 2023

Malcolm X - Happy Birthday!

He thought like a prosecutor and walked like a Prince.

As a boy he dreamed of being a lawyer, but a teacher told him it "was no realistic goal for a nigger." So he got his education in the Roxbury ghetto, the streets of Harlem, and Federal prison. Asked what his alma mater was, he once answered: "Books!"

Taught to be humble and submissive, his eyes burned defiance. Told to moderate his politics, he retorted that "an extreme illness cannot be cured by a moderate medicine," and demanded revolution "by any means necessary." Advised to imitate "responsible" civil rights leaders, he brought huge black audiences roaring to their feat icily recounting the racist brutality of which they were the constant victims.

No adversary could take him in debate. What looked like loopholes in his arguments were actually hangman's knots, noted writer James Baldwin, as his strangled critics quickly discovered when they foolishly rushed for the openings.

Accused of fomenting violence and hate, Malcolm was as gentle as a lamb with those he sought to liberate. When a young black man insisted his U.S. birth made him an American, Malcolm smiled affectionately and chided him in his softest voice:  "Now brother, if a cat has kittens in the oven, does that make them biscuits?"