Feb 28 2008

KPFK Fund Drive – Day 17

Feature Stories | Published 28 Feb 2008, 9:33 am | Comments Off on KPFK Fund Drive – Day 17 -

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From the VaultSupport KPFK – Make a pledge at 818-985-5735, or online at www.kpfk.org.

The Legacy of Malcolm X

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska to Earl and Louise Little. Like all black Americans, his family experienced violent racism even from before his birth. Malcolm’s mother was threatened by the KKK while pregnant with him. The Klansmen warned the family to leave Omaha, because of Malcolm’s father’s political activities with the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Three of Malcolm X’s uncles died violently at the hands of white men and his grand uncle was lynched. When he was 4 years old, after his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, they were harassed by a white supremacist group called The Black Legion; two years later, his father died a violent death under suspicious circumstances.

When Louise Little, Malcolm X’s mother, had a nervous breakdown in 1938, he and his siblings were separated and sent to live in different foster homes. He dropped out of school after graduating at the top of his Junior High School class and being discouraged by a racist teacher. Eventually, he wound up in a detention center. In 1942, at age 17, he lived in Boston and became a part of the city’s crime underworld. He lived in New York, briefly earning a living as a shoe shiner and then began dealing drugs in Harlem. Eventually he returned to Boston and was imprisoned for 8-10 years for burglary.

It was in prison that Malcolm X learned about the Nation of Islam and converted. Once released from prison, he became active alongside Elijah Muhammed. More than ten years later he left the Nation of Islam, converted to Orthodox Islam, and traveled to Mecca.

Malcolm X was one of the most controversial, and perhaps misunderstood civil rights leader in the US. What is remarkable about him is how little documentation there is exists on his life and vision. His entire body of work consists of a few dozen speeches and a collaborative autobiography with Alex Haley, published after his death. His militant stands against non-violence, on white racism and black nationalism, made him all at once loved and loathed across America.

On February 21st, 1965, a little over 43 years ago, Malcolm X was assassinated during a speech in Manhattan. Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral in Harlem.

The Malcolm X 6 CD set, consisting of a number of Malcolm X’s most famous and compelling speeches, is one of the most popular audio pieces from the Pacifica Radio Archives.

CD 1: The Ballot or the Bullet – his best known speech given on March 29, 1964 in Harlem
CD 2: Black Muslims Vs. The Sit-Ins – a discussion with James Baldwin and Leverne McCummins
CD 3: The Prospects for Freedom – Part 1 – lengthy 2-hr speech in New York on January 7, 1965
CD 4: The Prospects for Freedom – Part 2
CD 5: Friends and Enemies – a speech given on February 15, 1965 in Detroit, MI, the day after his house was firebombed, and a week after he was killed.
CD 6: A speech by Malcolm X on December 20, 1964 about the treatment of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, plus a presentation by John Henrik Clarke, history professor and friend of Malcolm X, on Malcolm’s contribution to the black struggle in the US.

Click here to make a pledge to KPFK for the 6 CD Malcolm X box set: http://kpfk.org/pledge/catalog/product_info.php?

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