From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Malcolm X: Colorblind in Mecca

Terrifying incidents from the childhood of Malcolm X make it understandable that he grew up seeing the world in black and white terms.

Wikipedia reports that three of his father’s brothers “died
violently at the hands of white men” (one was lynched). When Malcolm’s mother was pregnant with him, she was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan.  The year after Malcolm’s 1925 birth, the family wound up moving from their home in Omaha, Nebraska to Lansing, Michigan because of these Klan threats.

The situation in Lansing was also terrifying – this time, tragically so.  When their home was deliberately burned down in 1929, Malcolm’s family managed to escape.  However – in 1931, Malcolm’s father (Earl Little) was run over by a streetcar.  There is some discrepancy as to how this occurred.  The “official” report states that it was an accident. 
Yet, there was talk at the funeral about Little being struck from behind and shoved beneath the streetcar’s wheels by
members of a white supremacist group.

All this went a long way towards turning Malcolm away from the white race.  During his most intense anti-White phase, he would regularly teach that white people were “a race of devils” and that “the demise of the white race was imminent.”  His solution back then was to advocate for “the complete separation of African Americans from white people.”

When Malcolm made his pilgrimage to Mecca in April 1964, he had already begun softening his stance.  He had broken away from the more radical Nation of Islam and had joined the more mainstream Sunni Islam.  While in Saudi Arabia, he was befriended by some high-ranking diplomats.  This was in sharp contrast to his oftentimes pariah status back home.

However, what impressed Malcolm the most were the loving relationships that he witnessed there amongst
Muslims of all races.  In his now-famous Letter from Mecca, Malcolm X wrote:  I could see from this that
perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man…


Copyright May 19, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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