Today’s Black History Month historical figure is Malcolm X. Malcolm X has always been my inspiration. His story and what he stood for gave me the courage to find and embrace my truth. When many people think of Malcolm X, they think of the picture of Malcolm standing by a window holding a gun with the phrase ‘by all means neccessary” printed above. People tend to slice and dice the man to suit their agenda, but very few know the whole story. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley is a rich history of the evolution of a man. It’s a compelling read.
Malcolm X gave a critical speech in 1964 regarding elections and the power of the ballot. He said the white politicians were going to suddenly remember the black community was a voting bloc and would make promises they had no intention of keeping to get the black vote. If black people were to unite, the black vote would be powerful thus having a significant say in who will sit in the White House. He said the ballot was like a bullet. If a person had a gun, they would aim at a target. He encouraged the black brothers and sisters to use that ballot like a bullet and aim at the desired target. He also said if the African American failed to use their ballot as a bullet, then an actual bullet may have to be cast. Powerful.
Malcolm X was pushing past civil rights to human rights for African Americans. He was leading a movement that was picking up steam and many saw that a a threat. I still mourn the loss of a man that died many years before my birth. The losses of Malcolm and MLK deeply wounded the African American community and in 2017 the wound has yet to heal.