Malcolm X was music in motion. He was jazz in motion, and, of course, jazz is improvisation, swing and the blues. Malcolm had all three of those things. He could be lyrical and funny and, in the next moment, he’d shift and be serious and push you against the wall. The way he spoke had a swing to it, had a rhythm to it. It was a call and response with the audience that you get with jazz musicians. And he was the blues. Blues is associated with catastrophe. From the very beginning, from slavery to Jim Crow, that sense of catastrophe, of urgency, of needing to get it out, to cry out, to shout, somehow allowed that fire inside of his bones to be pressed with power and with vision. He never lost that.
We’ve all been able to learn some lessons from Malcolm, and there are truly too many to fully explain or to even list.
Through Malcolm X, society has truly began to understand the importance of diligence and hard work, and how you can always better yourself no matter how bad your situation is. Malcolm X was into drugs and crime, but somehow turned himself into the respected, great leader that he is remembered as today.
He bought a watch because of the value he placed on time, and a briefcase because of his many trips. I think that his transformation was amazing, and that will be something that the young and old will always admire him for.
A discussion panel was conducted about how Malcolm X both represents and is the antithesis of the ‘American Dream’ but also, the rest of the world. He embodies the American dream because he built himself up from nothing; he pulled himself out of the pit of drugs and crime and became successful in all definitions of the word. He is the figure that any kid could be, growing up with a childhood similar to tens of thousands of other African-Americans around at the same time. However, he also exposed the ‘American Dream’ as something flawed and unfair, as “an American nightmare” rather than an “American Dream” as he says in his famous speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.”
We’ve also learned that it’s actually almost a good thing to be open to changing your position and not to be too set on any notion. Malcolm took very radical stances, but even he was able to see the faults in those positions and publicly acknowledged the changes in his views. Society personally always respects someone who isn’t afraid to admit that they made a mistake (not that I’m saying Malcolm had made a mistake – he just hadn’t experienced everything yet).
Basically, it’s always good to keep an open mind no matter how sure you are about something, because one day you may see something that will surprise you and completely change your mind.
Both the old and new generations should look forward to reading Malcolm’s speeches so that they can see more of the nuances in Malcolm’s arguments and learn even more about how Malcolm saw the world. This will undoubtedly help society learn more about the world through these speeches. Through this, the past can be transformed into a far greater future.