Prologue: “Here at this final hour, we come to bid farewell to one of our brightest hopes. This gallant young champion lies before us, unconquered still...Did you talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever have him smile at you? Did he ever actually do mean things? For if you knew him, you would know why we must honor him...We consign his mortal remains to earth, secure in the knowledge that he is a man no more, a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again. For what he was, and is-our own Black shining prince, who didn’t hesitate to die because he loved us so.”
From Ossie Davis’s Eulogy of Malcolm X, Harlem, February 27, 1965.
Malcolm X’s birthday should be a call to action, as well as a celebration of his convictions and dedication to improving the lives of Afro Americans. It is a perennial admonition that we are still significantly defined by an inability to forge sustained internal alliances (unity) and settle for non-permanent civil rights gains and ineffective Black leadership. Malcolm’s credo: Forge unified Black agendas that convey clear purpose and resolve.
Drastically different leadership and widespread commitment for change are indispensable, not only for continued progress in the near term, but for Blacks’ very survival as important players in the future of this country.
The Statement of Basic Aims and Objectives of the Organization of Afro American Unity (June 28, 1964), excerpted here, sets forth Malcolm X’s ideological and programmatic positions challenging systemic barriers that still confront Blacks. It is an empowerment anthem unfamiliar and unsettling to most Blacks:
“We, the members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, convinced that it is the inalienable right of all people to control their own destiny and conscious of the fact that freedom, equality, justice and dignity are essential objectives for the achievement of the legitimate aspirations of people of African descent here in the Western Hemisphere, will endeavor to build a bridge of understanding and create the basis for Afro-American unity.
Conscious of our responsibility to harness the natural and human resources of our people for their total advancement in all spheres of human endeavor, and inspired by a common determination to promote understanding among our people and cooperation in all matters pertaining to their survival and advancement, we will support their aspirations for brotherhood and solidarity in a larger unity transcending all organizational differences.
Convinced that in order to translate this determination into a dynamic force in the cause of human progress, conditions of peace and security must be established and maintained; and, determined to unify the Americans of African descent in their fight for human rights and dignity, and being fully aware that this is not possible in the present atmosphere and condition of oppression, we dedicate ourselves to the building of a political, economic and social system of justice and peace.
We are dedicated to the unification of all people of African American descent in the Western Hemisphere and to the utilization of that unity to bring into being the organizational structure that will project Black people’s contributions to the world; and are persuaded that the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution of the United States and Bill of Rights are principles in which we believe and these documents, if put into practice, represent the essence of mankind’s hopes and good intentions.
Resolved, to reinforce the common bond of purpose between our people by submerging all of our differences and establishing a non-religious and non-sectarian program for human rights.
Establishment- The Organization of Afro-American Unity shall include all people of African descent in the Western Hemisphere, as well as our brothers and sisters on the African continent.
Education- Education is a means to increase self-respect and a passport to the future; our children are criminally shortchanged in America’s public schools.
Politics-Economics- Afro-Americans must be able to control and affect decisions that determine their destiny—economic, political and social.”
The challenge is for significant numbers of us to heed Malcolm’s call for unity as the foundation for real change.
Larry Aubry n can be contacted at e-mail