The 50th anniversary since the Feb. 21, 1965, assassination of Malcolm X – El-Hajj El Malik Shabazz; and had he survived the murderous intent of his enemies, this world renown iconic leader would have turned 90 years young on May 19th, 2015. Two milestone dates for family, community, activists, and historians. Many commemorative events are scheduled nation and worldwide. Hip-Hop – through inspiring a massive youth groundswell of an untapped political mass helped get President Barack Obama elected to president in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Who is going to question the cumulative affect of the sudden intense politicized voices and persuasion of a Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, Jay Z, Nas, Young Jeezy and LL Cool J? But before The ‘Barack the Vote campaign, there came a subconscious/conscious understanding of the Malcolm X story and freedom of the mind. His legacy has been interwoven into the very fabric of urban culture, even further than his mainstream civil rights contemporaries. Since inner city determines much of the wider national and international youth culture – the essence of Malcolm X permeates the language, the ideology, the flavor, and the cornerstone of many in the Hip Hop generation.
Malcolm set a tone, which recognized or not – influenced politically vocal artists like: the original Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar, X Clan, early Latifah, Bahamidia, Wise Intelligent, United Front and Afrikan Insurrektion Muzik, perhaps Azealia Banks -and – even Kanye West who in the beginning of his career showed elements of knowledge of self. Malcolm X remains a hood hero. Always will be. And being the international tastemaker that he has been over the last four decades Hip Hop has played a huge part in establishing his legacy with a generation, which is now passing it on to their children and grand’s. “My grandfather spoke out against the social ills that led to situations that produced criminal lifestyles,” said Malcolm Latif Shabazz. He told a journalist that his iconic elder relative was a beacon to people from all walks of life. Young Shabazz himself, was killed in suspicious circumstances in Mexico City in May 2013, but speaking in May 2011 he said, “One thing is though, people from all walks of life, from pimps to a drug addict, drug dealer, convicts, they all can all look at him and think, ‘He’s been in my shoes and look where he is now.’ What did he represent to our people? Inspiration He’s the epitome of change.” Kendrick Lamar revealed to the Madd Hatta morning show late last year was asked to name one book that changed something about him, he quickly replied; ‘The Autobiography Of Malcolm X.’ He said the book played a role in helping him speak with people from different walks of life.
“For me, it’s about communicating with people. You know, the more I communicate. I was one of them kids that were in the house [at] six, seven years old having full conversations with grown people that were at the party. So, taking that lifestyle and going across the world and talking to other people from other different cultures and walks of life, it gives you a little bit more wisdom. I had to see things the way you see it and make sense of everything that’s going on around you.” Contrary to many, Malcolm’s journey evolved. He came to appreciate that people of all walks of life could walk in faith and righteousness yet most white American continued to operate in a “devilish” system of injustice against blacks and others.
The fight against injustice is the under belly of much hip-hop. There seems to be a general consensus in the Hip Hop community that Malcolm X had a definitive “influence even in the subconscious of the least conscious. Fifty years later the words and legacy of El Malik El Shabazz are still fundamentally relevant and omnipresent in 2015.
“He was a trailblazer for Black people in the ghetto,” said Raekwon. He made us use our most powerful weapon!!! The mind…He made a super impact on artists. Especially myself. Every time I take a pic that index finger points to my mind and we see a lot of guys mimic that. That was Malcolm’s!!!
“Malcolm X definitely helped to raise the level of consciousness in Black people,” said David X, a Trenton, New Jersey-based community activist. “In the beginning Malcolm had such a staunch radical approach to white supremacy and it’s oppressive and racist effects on African /Black people. Addressing economic and social ills through today’s spoken word, rap and Hip Hop has definite overtones and influences of Malcolm X, ergo his plentiful orations during street rallies, college lectures, or community gatherings.” The Black Spades member concluded, “Yes, I believe Malcolm very much so influenced the art of Hip Hop yesterday and today.”
No matter how much Hollywood and corporate America try to co-opt rewrite and somewhat sanitize his legacy – from the stay-busy avenues of inner city Western boroughs to the hot and heady streets of Africa and the Caribbean – Malcolm X belongs to the people.
His legacy starts with his family. The six daughters of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz are: Ambassador to Belize Attallah Shabazz, Qubilah Shabazz, Ilyasah Shabazz, Gamilah Shabazz, Malikah Shabazz, Malaak Shabazz. Alongside The Source publisher L. Londell McMillan, prominent attorney they have formed X Legacy, LLC, to protect and advance the legacies of their parents. “What about brother Malcolm’s seeds and bloodline –those who call him “Daddy”? Says McMillan “If we are sincere, we have a duty to protect a man’s family who gave his life for our freedoms in the line of duty.” This was done effectively for 50 years and our generation is poised to change that right now.
This past February, people all over the world have been gathering in meeting halls, public theaters, small corner cafes and living rooms draped in Red, Black and Green, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm. As his May 19th – 90th birthday looms, the Shabazz family and X Legacy will host a number of such events, to honor the one time member of the Nation of Islam and then founder of the Organization for Afro American Unity. There is a bigger plan; we are calling for an International Malcolm X Day on Malcolm X’s birthday starting this year.
The focus of thousands of books, films, documentaries, college courses, debates, songs, and raps – Malcolm Little rose from his humble beginnings in Nebraska to become the Pan-African and human rights activist and Islamic leader of world brotherhood who has influenced millions around the world. Black-self determination protected by Black self-defense remained one of his cornerstone philosophies. His words, his image, his personal legacy affects every angle of popular and underground culture. From Hip Hop to political activism. Malcolm X remains a powerful, spawning active admirers in every metropolitan center and outpost across the globe.
The best tribute to anyone’s philosophy is to live it. Make it actionable. But, in this fast-paced, just-add-water culture, weak and temporary imitation often takes place of genuine lifestyle shift.
Edward J. Harris Jr., award-winning documentarian and filmmaker said, “Everyone wants to talk like Malcolm, but no one wants to walk like Malcolm. This culture of lauding over our dead freedom fighters instead of being freedom fighters is a problem.” Harris, producer of groundbreaking documentary films such as ‘Moon Over Sudan,’ and ‘The Lessons of Hayti’, stated, “We’ve got to move past articulating the problems, grievance and archived speeches of great men and women and move toward devising real solutions and engaging head on with well researched business plans.”
Filmmaker Harris produced ‘Slap the Donkey’ documenting Black politics and activist Rev. Al Sharpton’s bid for the 2004 Democratic nomination. He contended “A scorecard should be drawn up to get a true list of organizations, whom have impeded real progression with whining and back room deals that results in dinner tickets and conference sponsorships.” Malcolm X is a man respected across the globe from the suburbs to the shanties from the civil rights unrest of the 1960s to the 2014 world-wide-imitated street-by-street populist disorder in the boroughs of New York to Missouri – the words of and disposition of Malcolm X were omnipresent.
Portrayed by J. Edgar Hoover’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), and the mainstream media as a demagogue in the immediate years before and after his murder, it was forces in the Black community, who defied that illogical stance. The Hip-hop generation and their kin took to the streets to confront police brutality in the wake of the killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Tanesha Anderson, Rekia Boyd, Akai Gurley and Aiyanna Jone, Anthony Terrell Robinson, Jr.
“Malcolm’s tenacity and intelligence impacted my very life,” says youth activist Erica Ford CEO of LIFE Camp, Inc. Ford is working to save lives of hundreds of young people. “Once I learned about Malcolm, I wanted my work to reflect the essence of what made him who he was and I wanted my peers and young people at the time and every step of the way to learn more about him and embody his essence.”
On Saturday Feb. 21 at 3:10 pm the Shabazz family participated in a community wide ‘Moment of Transition and Prayer at the old Audubon ballroom, to mark the 50th anniversary of the time and at the place of the shooting death Malcolm X. The venue is now known as the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center.
The Shabazz daughters remain very active in the national and international community, and McMillan says that it is only right that their rights, like the rights of their parents, are respected.
“No more selfish dipping into the T-shirt guy’s spot on the boulevard and printing up 50,000 X t-shirts. Now there has to be permission granted,” said McMillan.
“Malcolm X did not die so that merchants could make T-shirts, hats, books, Video and art for just themselves” said the entertainment lawyer and creator of Source 360. “To really respect Brother Malcolm, you have to appreciate that his images, his papers, and his intellectual property are owned by his children, whom he never had the chance and time to financial secure – because he was working so much for the liberation of the people.”
X Legacy LLC is meant “to protect the legacy, intellectual property rights and other legal rights,” so that those who use their father’s name with permission – be it for educational, social or commercial use will do so accurately portraying “his dedication to the struggle for justice, freedom, dignity, family, self help and the appreciation of history and culture.” “We want the community to support X Legacy, and X Legacy has a duty to support the community because that’s what Malcolm X stood for.”
On behalf of the Shabazz family, McMillan has legally registered “under copyright and trademark law the legal rights of the family.”
Like with other icons such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and President John F. Kennedy, McMillan said, “If people are being paid and compensated off of the work of Malcolm X, they should fairly compensate the family in a reasonable way. If people are going to be inspired by his legacy to commercialize him, they should have enough decency to share of fairly contribute to the family, and to respect how those images and literary properties are presented to the public worldwide.”
Meanwhile, every May 19, hundreds of people from the New York tristate embark on where Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz are interred in the same grave. Their grandson El Hajj Malcolm Latif El Shabazz is buried a short walk away.
The pilgrimage is co-organized by groups including, the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and the Sons of Africa.
This year – commemorating the 90th birthday of Malcolm X, the Shabazz daughters, McMillan, and Legacy X, are calling for a worldwide May 19th observation with “International Malcolm X Day” celebrating his life and legacy.
McMillan says that Hip Hop assisted tremendously in moving the perception and the dialogue along, “Brother Malcolm stood for self-esteem, and self-awareness, self-help and fighting against those who have taught you that you are less than who you really are.
Malcolm X’s legacy has affected thousands if not millions of people in so many different ways from developing knowledge of self to increasing understanding in human rights, civil rights, and socio-economic politics. The power and the purpose is this gift that keeps on giving one man’s noble sacrifice has blessed this planet in immeasurable ways.
“My mother saw I was into Public Enemy and KRS-1 and the messages in their music as a kid, so she bought me Malcolm’s autobiography for my 16th birthday,” said Prodigy of Mobb Deep. “His story being a hustler/pimp who went to prison and turned his life around was very inspirational for me. It made me want to learn more about race, religion, cultures, and proper diet. Malcolm traveled to Mecca and saw many different races praying together, which changed his views on race relations. That was very inspirational for me. That part of his story also helped me to change mine as well. It helped me to graduate from a race driven school of thought to a human school of thought where we all need to come together and fight the real enemy, which is government corruption. I understand that race issues are still very much alive and kicking in today’s world. But there are people still in that school of thought who’s job is to deal with that. Like Meek Mill said- it’s levels to this shit. I feel I did that school for many years already and have graduated to a higher purpose. And I feel Malcolm helped me to reach this point.”
“I believe my father Malcolm X has a speical relationship with real Hip-Hop beacuse real Hip-Hop addresses the real issues and problems seeking solutions not the superficiality of most mass media,” says Gamilah-Lumumba Shabazz.
“Brother Malcolm X has been the jumping off point for many a young person being introduced to a lifestyle of knowledge of self,” said the youth advocate and member of the Five Percenters. “I don’t think I know many people who don’t have some sort of Malcolm X literature or memorabilia. He has affected us from dawn to dusk because we have absorbed his words and philosophies. Even those who do not live the life – know of Malcolm, and most strive to get to that point of understanding and productivity for a greater community.”
The next 50 years are destined to be historic. As time passes, we come to better understand and appreciate Malcolm X and yearn more and more for his authentic and disciplined leadership. Malcolm X will not be mis-characterized like in the past, and we can be sure that the Hip-Hop generation along with X Legacy will have a major role in representing the truth, legacy, and power of Malcolm X.
For more information contact X Legacy at: XLegacy@thenorthstargroup.biz