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Upon his release, Malcolm went to Detroit, joined the daily activities of the sect, and was given instruction by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm’s personal
commitment helped build the organization nation-wide, while making him an international figure. He was interviewed on major television programs and by magazines,
and spoke across the country at various universities and other forums. His power was in his words, which so vividly described the plight of blacks and vehemently
incriminated whites. When a white person referred to the fact that some Southern university had enrolled black freshmen without bayonets, Malcolm reacted with
When I “slipped,” the program host would leap on the bait: “Ahhh! Indeed, Mr. Malcolm X — you can’t deny that’s an advance for your race!”
I’d jerk the pole then. “I can’t turn around without hearing about some ‘civil rights advance’! White people seem to think the black man ought to
be shouting ‘hallelujah’! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man’s back — and now the whit man starts to
wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man’s supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it’s still going to
Although Malcolm words often stung with the injustices against blacks in America, the equally racist views of the Nation of Islam kept him from accepting any whites
as sincere or capable of helping the situation. For twelve years he preached that the white man was the devil and the “Honorable Elijah Muhammad” was God’s
messenger. Unfortunately, most images of Malcolm today focus on this period of his life, although the transformation he was about to undergo would give him a
completely different, and more important, message for the American people.
On March 12, 1964, impelled by internal jealousy within the Nation of Islam and revelations of Elijah Muhammad’s sexual immorality, Malcolm left the Nation of
Islam with the intention of starting his own organization:
I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else’s control. I feel what I’m thinking and saying now is for myself. Before,
it was for and by guidance of another, now I think with my own mind.
Malcolm was thirty-eight years old when he left Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. Reflecting on reflects that occurred prior to leaving, he said:
At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned
people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying,
or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white-indicting statements notwithstanding, they felt I was sincere in considering
myself a Muslim — and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called “true Islam,” I would “understand it, and embrace it.” Automatically,
as a follower of Elijah, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did
question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?
Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. . . . Then
one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been
told of him, and we talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something
whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, “No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
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