Michigan Free Press - Malcolm X -- born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Neb. -- spent much of his youth in Lansing, where the family moved when Malcolm was 4, and, later, in Detroit, the birthplace of the Nation of Islam and home to one of the first temples Malcolm attended. Still, our state has no monuments, libraries or public waysides devoted to this seminal freedom fighter, who was assassinated in New York City on Feb. 21, 1965, at the age of 39.
It's a shame. I believe Malcolm X to be the greatest American leader in the last century. I won't spend much time debating the point. You could make an argument for many other people, but who exceeds Malcolm's unflinching courage and conviction, open and evolving mind, and journey from street hustler and prisoner to international voice for the oppressed? How many men have traveled as far, or taken so many with them? In the end, he carried the struggle of African Americans into the global arena, and redefined the movement as one of human, not just civil, rights. His call to action was "by any means necessary." He wasn't interested in turning the other cheek. By shaking up white America, he made it easier for others who professed nonviolence, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to push America forward.
Malcolm X didn't hide his blemishes or blunders, facing the flaws that connected him to the mass of humanity. After a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1964, he altered his views on whites and race relations, affirming that we are all part of the human family. Read more.