All That Power
“That’s too much power for one man to have”. The Chief of Police uttered this famous quote as Malcolm X and the enforcing segment of the Chicago chapter of the Nation of Islam dispersed a crowd on the edge of forming into a mob in front of a local hospital. I decided to watch this movie again since I had not seen it in at least eight or nine years. Surprisingly, the movie seemed so foreign to me. I wondered why it seemed like It was my first time watching the movie when I knew without a doubt I had seen it before. I came to the conclusion that like Malcolm pre incarceration, my eyes were closed to the truth.
When I say the truth, I speak of the portrayal of the “black man” in our society by the “white man”. In an effort to not use such a blanketed statement I mean in particularly the African Americans post slavery that were trying to make a living in America, but were faced with a multitude of obstacles strictly because of the color of their skin. Many were not even given a chance to succeed. The best example of this that hit home to me was the scene in the movie where Malcolm’s teacher told him that despite the fact that he was the Class President and made the best grades, a Nigger could never be a lawyer. He should try to be a carpenter because that is “respectable work” for a black.
This was a common theme that we noticed when we studied the Civil Rights period. The struggle between people of color and white people was suffocating. Everyone was fighting for his or her own human space. Where Malcolm differed was his belief that integration was like running into a burning building. It appalled him that his people wanted to share space with the very people that would hang you before they would shake your hand. Much of his inherent disgust of his White oppressors came from his late father whom strongly believed in Garveyism, “Africa for the Africans”.
Malcolm differed from many of the Civil rights activist in the essence that he thoroughly believed in the idea of self-defense. So did Malcolm have too much power? Was his brash preaching and teaching style detrimental to the progress that other major activists such as King and Du Bois had made? I simply say no. The fact is we needed a balance of power and not only in our Government. King may have had his dream, but Malcolm had a vision that like him was very confrontational and straightforward. Yes, it was a lot of power to have, but who better to hold it?