Black History

* Malcolm X



  Elke Moritz

VII. My own opinion

The first time I heard of Martin and Malcolm, it was in a rap song. Because I was curious about who they were, I picked my encyclopedia only to find out that Malcolm wasn't mentioned at all. I started to search for further information and soon found myself fascinated by their lifes and speeches concerning the situation of African-Americans in the US. From the beginning, I favoured Malcolm more than Martin. This may be because he was always spoken negative of by the white press, but mainly it is because of his great personality. He was able to change his views and to undergo many personal metamorphoses, from Malcolm Little to Detroit Red, from Satan to Minister Malcolm X, and finally to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. He educated himself through reading and courses he joined while in prison, because he knew that "without education, you're not going to get anywhere in this world."67

His major interest was in history, because he tried to understand the depths of the problem he was facing in America and the whole world. Malcolm was a man who made people proud and showed them who they were. This also is important today, because the search for an own identity is still one of the key problems of mankind and especially of any oppressed people. His debating skills were unique and he dared to speak out loud what the masses thought. Although I don't agree with everything what he said, I am also fascinated by him like many students he spoke to. One of my favourite statements of Malcolm is:
"You don't have to be a man to fight for freedom. All you have to do is be an intelligent human being."68, because the participation of women in the fight is hardly ever mentioned in literature and history books.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the major force in the first period of the civil rights movement, while Malcolm's ideas became popular among many young people after his death in 1965. Most people don't know about Malcolm, because he never became as active in the movement as Martin did. In my opinion, one of the most important things that happened in the civil rights movement, was that African-Americans demonstrated unity and their will to fight for their rights in thousands of sit-ins, marches, and boycotts. Throughout history, African-American families had been disorganized through slavery, poverty, or violence, which led to an increasing number of matricentric families. In the demonstrations of the 1960s, and especially in Birmingham in 1963, thousands of children joined the fight. The black families who had been separated so often, were now doing something together, for a common goal. Today, there are even more families headed by women. The situation of many African-Americans living in the big cities is worse than ever, and hopelessness and disillusionment can be found nearly everywhere. But fortunately, those who killed the dreamers didn't kill their dreams. There is today a growing interest in their ideas. The government declared a national holiday for Martin Luther King, and the American youth rediscovers Malcolm X - they wear baseball caps and T-shirts with the pictures of Malcolm and Martin printed on them. And Malcolm's autobiography is selling better then ever. Martin and Malcolm live on in the minds of thousands of people all over the world.

There are many parallels between incidents in other countries and the struggle of the African-Americans. In the last few years, a growing number of immigrants and refugees came to Germany to find better jobs and living conditions and respect for their human-rights. But because of many internal problems in our country, like a growing underclass because of a high unemployment rate and poor housing and economic conditions especially in the eastern parts of Germany, a growing nationalism and racism can be found among the population. I want to make the readers of this essay think about the problems of African-Americans and to give them an insight into their feelings and longings, but they should also transfer the struggle of America's non-white population to that of the non-white people and refugees right here in Germany: people, who live in a country far away from home where they are surrounded by a different culture and language, often put into camps until they are accepted as refugees, and then finding themselves living separated in ghetto-like conditions and being treated as second-class citizens. People are too often oppressed because they are different and don't fit into the mainstream of society. I think that we often tend to underestimate the racial factor in human exploitation and that we simply forget that in our world not love, nonviolence or morality are important, but that power is the key - power that can be easily gained by the suppression and exploitation of other people. Throughout history, many exploiters have been white people, mostly from Europe and mostly so-called Christians. And although it has been said for many times, in many places, I think it is necessary for us to be reminded of the fact that white people are a minority in our world and that non-white people are the majority.

To write this essay wasn't easy for me. First of all, I have never been to the US and therefore had to use every single information I could find to build up the picture in my mind which I tried to describe here. Then I had to realize that language continues to develop and that many expressions I found in literature were either too modern or too outdated to be printed in my dictionary. But the greatest problem was that most books and articles of white authors were too negative or too superficial. So in my opinion writers should belong to the (ethnical) group they write about to give their readers a better insight into the situation. Although it often was difficult for me, I tried my best. Like every author, I hope that many people will read this essay, or at least hear about its content by others, because it deals with problems that still exist in our world today.

Back   Two Roads   Next
67.) speech at the Militant Labor Forum, New York, 29 May 1964, in "By any means necessary," p. 178
68.) speech at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, Dec. 20, 1964, in "Malcolm X Speaks",p. 135