The press is so powerful in its image-making role, it can make the criminal look like he’s a the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal.
This is the press, an irresponsible press. It will make the criminal look like he’s the victim and make the victim look like he’s the criminal. If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. If you aren’t careful, because I’ve seen some of you caught in that bag, you run away hating yourself and loving the man — while you’re catching hell from the man. You let the man maneuver you into thinking that it’s wrong to fight him when he’s fighting you. He’s fighting you in the morning, fighting you in the noon, fighting you at night and fighting you all in between, and you still think it’s wrong to fight him back. Why? The press. The newspapers make you look wrong. – Malcolm X
February this year I was blown away by Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. I had not seen it before and it helped me decide to read the autobiography written by Alex Haley. I had always wondered when I watched the end of Roots: The Next Generations (televised in 1979) just how influential Malcolm had been to inspire the book and TV show that had deeply affected me. Its message transcends race. The message of the importance of family and the inhumane cruelty of taking children from their family calls to all races and cultures.
In reading Malcolm’s autobiography I learned of a person I could never have known if I depended on newspapers for truth. His whole story is a beautiful one; inspirational and life changing. I learned so much more.
Last night I was saddened to hear a speech from the 1970’s that attributed blacks being inspired to be proud of their roots to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.. Now Mr. King did do a lot of great things for the cause of racial equality and peaceful protest. But having read this book, I know now that black racial pride and the importance of family roots, that was Malcolm’s cause. He was the one who inspired Mr. Haley and Mr. Haley’s story inspired the nation. At the same time though, I understood why the man giving the speech whether he knew the truth or not, could never attribute the cause to Malcolm. Malcolm for all of my childhood was the man vilified as a promoter of violence instead of self-defense. It would have been political suicide for the speaker to mention his name.
I admire el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X) for having the courage to promote self-defense. I admire him for speaking the truth as he saw it. I admire him for his dedication to learning and his willingness to admit when he learned he’d been wrong. In his moment of glory he saw so much bigger and broader. He was shot down before I was born, but now I have read his own story, in his own words. Now I see, his shadow lingers, his words echo. His truth remains available for those who look beyond the newspapers. I thank God for this man’s courage, now that I can see what he really stood for.