As people across the world commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, EBONY asked some of our favorite thought leaders to reflect on how “our Black shining prince” impacted their worldview, cultural identity and work: 

 

“Malcolm died advocating for teenaged, single Black mothers. He died for not remaining silent about the abuse of Black girls.” –dream hampton, writer/activist/educator

 



“The words of Malcolm X, constantly remind me to pay attention to who loves me. Not superficially. Not when it’s convenient. But when it is necessary, affirming, truthful, and unconditional.” -Cheeraz Gormon, activist/poet

 

“Malcolm was intentional about putting white supremacy on trial, at every juncture, and he did it so unapologetically.” -Cherrell Brown, activist

 

“He taught me what it meant to publicly be a work in progress, to publicly admit when you were wrong, all in a lifelong effort to be the best person he could be for his people, his family, and himself. I take him with me everywhere I go.“-Rembert Browne, writer

 

“I remember the first time I heard Brother Malcolm’s speech when he asked, “Who taught you to hate yourself?” I was 15. For me, there was a healing in his truth-telling. His words gave me permission to always call it as I see it. And without apology. “-Yaba Blay, scholar/author

 

“Malcolm’s journey to Africa reminds me that we all need space for the type of black imagination that can fuel our political work.“-Darnell L. Moore, activist/writer

 

 “Fearless in his love of blackness, Malcolm pushed us to think deeper about the terror of The American Dream. He dared to tell our truth.” -DeRay Mckesson, activist

 

“As a Black man, Malcolm X was one of my first glimpses into what it meant to be proud of your Blackness on your terms; as a storyteller, his book taught me the value in honesty and owning your truth, no matter how messy it might look in the rear view mirror.”-Michael Arceneaux, writer

 

“More than anything, Malcolm X taught me that the oppression we face as Black people isn’t a matter of injustice but rather a violation of international Human Rights.”-Shantrelle P. Lewis, curator

 

“I did a 10 page book report on The Autobiography of Malcolm X when I was 12 years old. That was the catalyst for the social justice work I do today.” Tiq Milan, writer/activist

 

“Change is revolutionary by nature and Malcolm’s transformation serves a lasting testament that we as people are not resigned to our character flaws or personal misfortunes. Your world is a microcosm of our world and they shift accordingly as well.” -DonWill, musician/actor

“‘By any means necessary’–be ready to do what’s necessary for your people to have the means to live, thrive, and dream. [That] is how Malcolm X impacted my life.” – T-Dubb-Oh, activist/rapper

 

“Malcolm X. helped me understand that Black Love is the greatest weapon we have in the fight against White supremacy.” -Feminista Jones, writer/activist

 

“The more I learned the truth about Malcolm X, the more I began to love myself. His unwavering courage is how I attempt to show up in the world and in my work.” –Wade Davis, former NFL player/Executive Director, You Can Play Project

 

“Malcolm wasn’t perfect, but he strived to be, and do, better—to be his best possible self for his people. That is the true worth of a freedom fighter.” -Jason Parham, writer/editor

“Malcolm X’s life taught me that being angry about injustice is an opportunity to use my voice to speak out and use my gifts to spark change.”-Ebonie Johnson Cooper, philanthropist

 

“Watching the Malcolm X film as a child let me see that other Black people were proud to be Black outside of my family. Malcolm made it real for me to be extremely proud of who I am and my melanin.”-Johnetta Elzie, activist

 

“The moment I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, I was convinced that Malcolm X was the most brilliant human being I had ever encountered. He changed my idea of Blackness, my idea of what it takes to fight for ourselves, and our loved ones. He changed me. “ -Patrise Marie Cullors, artist, organizer, freedom fighter

 

“Malcolm gave me the language to recognize and process the daunting system of White supremacy. I had always been taught about racism and our struggle for freedom but Malcolm X was the first historical figure that I literally felt in my gut because he was brutally honest—about his childhood hunger, his parental loss, his illegal hustles, his time in prison, his religious development, his hatred of Whiteness and his shifting perspective. He was fearless yet utterly human. And he was just so real.” Akiba Solomon, writer/editor

 

“Malcolm X taught me that my power is directly related to the knowledge I hold and the freedom of my imagination.” – Ashley Yates, activist

 

“Reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as suggested to me by a White teacher at my all-White school, made me feel unapologetically Black.”-Richelle Carey, journalist/anti-domestic violence activist

 

“‘By any means necessary.’ This quote from Malcolm X reminds me of the dedication to freedom demonstrated by those that came before me, what is demanded of us today, and what future generations must never forget.”– Souleo, curator/columnist

 

“Malcolm X made me reconsider identity – from the names we are given to the categories society places us in. The first time I heard ‘Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?’ – it was electrifying and sparked so many questions in my mind, so many things I had never thought about seriously before. Malcolm X sparked critical thinking and self awareness in me, tools that impacted my life and my work beyond measure.” Patrice Grell Yursik, creator, Afrobella.com

 

 



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