The Common Good

Reflection on Prophet Malcolm X

In this hour, amongst everything else that is on my mind, I am mindful of the 19th of May, 2009, marking the birthday of a mystic activist and voice of justice. One who like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was silenced at the age of 39. This prophet spoke out radically against the injustices of his day, and he propelled a message and rhetoric that made the 'powers that be' feel insecure even in their power.

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I am talking about Prophet Malcolm X. If he were alive, today would be the celebration of Minister Malcolm's 84th birthday. The life and legacy of minister Malcolm's cry for justice and equality must continue to be considered in this day and age, as we continue to stand up for justice. There are those who would still take offense at the reference to Malcolm X in any positive sense, but more dialogue and engagement must be given to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz post his return from Mecca.

On this day, the 19th of May, 2009, may we remember Prophet Malcolm X, and be reminded of our call and journey of faith in living a life that seeks the betterment of our world and the demise of corrupt 'powers that be'!

Malcolm X stated, "I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won't let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion." I have to wonder how many times my faith tradition and my rearing within organized Christianity has discouraged my willingness to fight for my people. Malcolm's 'my people' were people who faced oppression and dehumanization.

I have 'my people' too, and I must be willing to fight for them like Minister Malcolm did! In choosing to fight for ' my people' I must also say 'to hell' with the elements of my religious and faith tradition, and elements of Christianity, which choose to deny and resist the plight of the disenfranchised and marginalized people of our world. People from other countries in South Africa are the 'my people' of this moment, this hour, and this day!

The Malcolm X of pre-Mecca and African journey was trapped in the racialized disparities and inequities of a segregated United States. He was also trapped in the work of the Nation of Islam, which many will remember as Malcolm X propelling a black society without having contact with white people. But like apostle Paul's transformational and redeeming experience on the road to Damascus, so to must the life, love, and legacy of Malcolm X be considered. Malcolm X of the post-Mecca and African journey was one who realized the dynamism and worth of living for the beloved community -- a community of God's people existing to see justice and equality for all peoples of the earth.

Seth Naicker is program and projects director at the Office of Reconciliation Studies at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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