Malcolm X was an influential leader in the African-American community in the late 1950’s through 1965. He was born Malcolm Little, the son of a Baptist minister. As a child, he aspired to practice law, but when a white teacher told him that it was “no realistic goal for a nigger”, he felt that the there was no place for him in a ‘white world’.
Malcolm’s young adult life included drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery an pimping. This activity led to imprisonment, where he joined the Nation of Islam headed by Elijah Muhammad. The NOI was loosely associated with the traditional Islamic religion. It was during this time that Malcolm Little changed his name to ‘Malcolm X’.
Malcolm rose to prominence in the ‘Nation’, but grew disillusioned when he learned that Elijah Muhammad was having sexual relations with females in the Nation. They had also born children to E. Muhammad, a practice which was against the teachings of the Nation.
As Malcolm X grew increasingly disenchanted with some of the practices of the leader of the Nation, members of NOI were also growing sour toward Malcolm as he gained greater recognition and influence beyond that of his leader.
Malcolm eventually broke from the Nation of Islam to become an Islamic Sunni Muslim in 1964. It was also in 1964 when Malcolm met face-to-face with his perceived nemeses, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. I believe it was primarily a perception of an adversarial relationship between the two leaders of the Black community because they were both fighting for the rights of their people. However, their tactics of non-violence (King) vs. self-preservation by any means (Malcolm) lead to strong disagreements between the two and some verbal confrontations. Never-the-less, I believe they grew to respect each other.
Malcolm X was assented in 1965 in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom.
Why Malcolm X?
I tell this story of Malcolm X because I closely followed him and Dr. King during their lifetimes. I was neither a Muslim nor a Christian at the time, but was a young man looking for answers to the problems that plagued the black community during the height of the civil rights movements. As I look back at the tumultuous life of Malcolm X through the lens of spiritual insight I’ve gained in 30+ years of following Christ, I believe that Malcolm; as a sincere ‘seeker of the Truth’, would have eventually given his life to Jesus had he not have been killed. He may have done so with his last dying breath. Only God knows if I am correct.
Having said all of the above, I was blessed to have pitched my easel on the corner of Malcolm X Blvd. and 136th street to paint en plein air.
Good News Ahead of Hurricane Sandy
The horizon was gray-black with patches of pale blue sky peek-a-booing through the clouds as Hurricane Sandy approached. The air was like a Kansas afternoon moments before an EF4 tornado roared in; still (still I remember seeing a twister picking an 18-wheeler with cab off the highway and setting it in a wheat field). The Harlem brownstones changed values as fast-moving clouds rationed out rays of sunlight on their weathered facades.
I was there to declare the Good News, the gospel of Christ to curious onlookers and seek the lost.
I talked to about a half-a-dozen New Yorkers about Jesus and I had the opportunity to pray with two of them.
Hurricane Sandy roared in the following day, but not before Jesus had made a stand in upper Manhattan on Malcolm X Boulevard.