Tag Archives: Malcolm X

Jackie Robinson’s Response to Malcolm X

December 14, 1963
Dear Malcolm:

Frankly, your letter to me in the New York Amsterdam News is one of the things I shall cherish. Coming from you, an attack is a tribute. I am also honored to have been placed in the distinguished company of Dr. Ralph Bunche, whom you have also attacked.

I am proud of my associations with the men whom you choose to call my “white bosses”—Mr. Branch Rickey, my boss at Chock Full O’ Nuts, Mr. William Black, and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. I am also proud that so many others whom you would undoubtedly label as “white bosses,” marched with us to Washington and have been and are now working with our leaders to help achieve equality here in America.

I will not dignify your attempted slur against my appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee some years back. All I can say is that if I were called upon to defend my country today, I would gladly do so. Nor do I hide behind any coat­tails as you do when caught in one of your numerous outlandish statements. Your usual “out” is to duck responsibility by stating: “The Honorable Elijah Muhammad says . . .”

Personally, I reject your racist views. I reject your dream of a separate state. I believe that many Americans, black and white, are committed to fighting for those freedoms for which Medgar Evers, William Moore, the Birmingham children and President John F. Kennedy died.

Those of us who are so committed have no intention of supporting the idea of a separate black state where the Honorable Muhammad can be the ruler and you his immediate successor—and all because you, Malcolm, hate white people. Too many of our young people have gone to jail and too many millions of dollars have been invested in our fight for equality for us to pay serious heed to your advice. Whether you like this country or not is of little concern to me. America is not perfect, by a long shot, but I happen to like it here and will do all I can to help make it the kind of place where my children and theirs can live in dignity.
As for Governor Rockefeller, I sincerely hope that what­ever contribution I can make to his campaign for nomination and election will be meaningful. I don’t know where you went to school, Malcolm. If you attended virtually any Negro college, I venture to say that a Rockefeller helped make your education possible. Neither do I apologize for my support of Mr. Nixon.

If conditions were the same today as they were in 1960, I would still support him. I do not do things to please “white bosses” or “black agitators” unless they are the things which please me. I respect Governor Rockefeller’s leadership of the present and what his family has meant to us in the past. I fully intend to do all I can to aid him.

The fact that I am supporting him does not mean you should. Rest assured, I am not doing so in the hope that you will come aboard.

You say I have never shown my appreciation to the Negro masses. I assume that is why NAACP branches all over the country constantly invite me to address them. I guess this is the reason the NAACP gave me its highest award, the Spingarn Medal, and why Dr. Martin King has consistently invited me to participate in the Southern Freedom Fight and invited me to co­chair with him the drive to raise funds to rebuild the burned churches in Georgia. By the way, Malcolm, I don’t remember our receiving your contribution.

Negroes are not fooled by your vicious theories that they are dying for freedom to please the white man. Negroes are fighting for freedom and rejecting your racism because we feel our stake in America is worth fighting for. Whom do you think you are kidding, Malcolm, when you say that Negro leaders ought to be “thankful” that you were not personally present in Birmingham or Mississippi after racial atrocities had been committed there? The inference seems to be that you would have played some dramatic, avenging role. I don’t think you would have.

I think you would have done exactly what you did after your own Muslim brothers ­were shot and killed in Los Angeles. You left it to the law to take its course.

You mouth a big and bitter battle, Malcolm, but it is noticeable that your militancy is mainly expressed in Harlem where it is safe.

I have always contended for your right—as for that of every American—to say and think and believe what you choose. I just happen to believe you are supporting and advocating policies which could not possibly interest the masses. Thank God for our Dr. Bunche, our Roy Wilkins, our Dr. King, and Mr. Randolph. I am also grateful for those people you consider “white bosses.”
I am glad that I have been able to come through for the people at whom you sneer. I am glad that Negroes spent so many millions for paid admissions to baseball. I am glad that we have sold an awful lot of Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee. I am hopeful that we will be able to get a great many votes for Governor Rockefeller.

I shall always be happy to associate myself with decent Americans of either race who believe in justice for all. I hate to think of where we would be if we followed your leadership. Strictly in my personal opinion, it is a sick leadership which should rightfully be rejected by the vast majority of Americans.

 Jackie Robinson

Malcolm X Publicly Addresses Jackie Robinson

November 30, 1963
Dear Good Friend, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson:

You became a great baseball player after your White Boss (Mr. Rickey) lifted you to the Major Leagues. You proved that your White Boss had chosen the “right” Negro by getting plenty of hits, stealing plenty of bases, winning many games and bringing much money through the gates and into the pockets of your White Boss.

In those days I was one of your many ardent fans; your speed and shifty base running used to hold me spellbound . . . and, according to the attack you leveled against me and Congressman Powell in your recent column, I must confess that even today you still display the same old “speed,” the same “cunning,” and “shiftiness” . . . and you are still trying to win “The Big Game” for your White Boss.

Shortly after the White Man lifted you from poverty and obscurity to the Major Leagues, Paul Robeson was condemning America for her injustices against American Negroes. Mr. Robeson questioned the intelligence of Negroes fighting to defend a country that treated them with such open contempt and bestial brutality.

Robeson’s Stand
Robeson’s brilliant stand in behalf of our people left the guilty American whites speechless: they had no defense.

They sought desperately to find another Negro who would be dumb enough to champion their bankrupt “white” cause against Paul Robeson.

It was you who let yourself be used by the whites even in those days against your own kind. You let them sic you on Paul Robeson.

You let them use you to destroy Paul Robeson. You let your White Boss send you before a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. (the capitol of Segregationville) to dispute and condemn Paul Robeson, because he had these guilty American whites frightened silly.

Your White Boss sent you to Washington to assure all the worried white folks that Negroes were still thankful to the Great White Father for bringing us to America, that Negroes were grateful to America (despite our not being treated as full citizens), and that Negroes would still lay down our lives to defend this white country (though this same white government wasn’t ready nor willing to defend Negroes) . . . even in those days, Jackie!

Jackie’s Column
In this same recent column you also accused me and Dr. Powell of misleading our people. Aren’t you the same ex­baseball player who tried to “MISLEAD” Negroes into Nixon’s camp during the last presidential election?

Evidently you were the only Negro who voted for Nixon, because according to the polls taken afterward, very few Negroes were dumb enough to follow your “MISLEAD.”

Today you confess to our people that you now think Nixon would have been the wrong man. Aren’t you also confessing that if Negroes had been dumb enough to follow you three years ago that you would have been guilty of MISLEADING them?

Rocke­fel­ler
You never gave up. You are now trying to lead Negroes into Nelson Rockefeller’s political camp. If you admit that you were wrong about Richard Nixon three years ago, how are we to be sure that you’ve become so politically mature in the meantime to be right in your choice today? Your “shiftiness” is confusing and very misleading.

We hear that you are about to be appointed Boxing Commissioner of New York State by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Does this have any bearing on your efforts to get Negroes into Rockefeller’s camp? Just who are you playing ball for today, good Friend?

Our people followed you on the football field and the baseball field, but we are cautious and doubtful about your shifty position in this political field.

When Mr. Rickey picked you up from obscurity and made you a Big Leaguer, you never let Mr. Rickey down; and since Mr. Black has given you a well­paying position with Chock-Full-O-Nuts, you have never let Mr. Black down . . . and now with Mr. Rockefeller promising to make you the Boxing Commissioner of New York State, we know that you can’t afford to let Ole Rocky down.

You have never shown appreciation for the support given you by the Negro masses, but you have a record of being very faithful to your White Benefactors. Perhaps, if Nixon had not been such a relatively poorer man, he too would have fared much better with your support.

Your column also accused me of attacking Dr. Ralph Bunche. This is untrue. I have never attacked Ralph Bunche. No Muslim ever initiates an attack on anyone. Dr. Bunche had attacked the Muslims in general and me in particular from a college campus in the state of Mississippi, and his venomous poison was carried by all the major networks. My reply to Dr. Bunche’s unwarranted attack was made strictly in self­defense (as is this present letter an answer to your unjust attack).

If Dr. Bunche’s UN position is supposed to confine him to matters “above and beyond” America’s race problems, whenever he does escape the confines of UN protocol, why does he always attack our Muslim religious group? This is the third time he has attacked our religion. Is he anti­Islam?

Mississippi
Since he was in Mississippi while making his recent speech, he would have shown more intelligence had he directed his full attention toward the whites in that area who are bombing Negro churches and murdering innocent little Negro girls.

Why waste precious time and energy on us? Muslims don’t bomb churches. Muslims don’t shoot Medgar Evers in the back. Muslims have never lynched anyone.

Dr. Bunche should realize he can’t fight an effective battle on two different fronts at the same time. He can’t fight the Muslims and at the same time be effective against the lynchers of Negroes.

But Dr. Bunche seems more anxious to discredit and destroy the Muslim religious group than he does the white lynchers of Negroes. Whenever I read the speeches he makes for American consumption, I often wonder if his scriptwriter isn’t some anti-Muslim Israeli?

You also quoted the comedian, Dick Gregory, whose scriptwriter has him saying that most Negroes never knew the Muslims existed until the white man put the Muslims on television. I must confess that this is part­true.

The Muslims have been in the Negro Community for a long time, but Negroes such as yourself, who regard yourselves as Negro “leaders,” never know what is going on in the Negro Community until the white man tells you.

You stay as far away from the Negro Community as you can get, and you never take an interest in anything in the Negro Community until the white man himself takes an interest in it. You, yourself would never shake my hand until you saw some of your white friends shaking it.

Negro “leaders” never knew Muslims existed until the white man discovered them, and right today most of these same Negro “leaders” know about Muslims only what the white man has told them.

Medgar Evers
Finally, good Friend Jackie: you attacked me for not attending the funeral of Medgar Evers, who was murdered in Mississippi. When I go to a Mississippi funeral it won’t be to attend the funeral of a black man!

And you Negro “leaders,” whose bread and butter depend on your ability to make your white boss think you have all these Negroes “under control,” better be thankful that I wasn’t in Mississippi after Medgar Evers was murdered, nor in Birmingham after the murder of those four innocent little Negro girls.

If my integrity or sincerity is to be measured in your eyesight by my attendance at funerals of Negroes who have been murdered by whites, if you should ever meet with such misfortune I promise to attend your funeral, and then perhaps you will be able to see me in a different light?

If you should ever become as militant in behalf of our oppressed people as Medgar Evers was, the same whites whom you now take to be your friends will be the first to put the bullet or the dagger in your back, just as they put it in the back of Medgar Evers . . .

And I sincerely fear, good Friend Jackie, that if the whites do murder you, you are still gullible enough to die thinking they are still your white friends, and that the dagger in your back is only an accident!

Whereas if whites were to murder me for the religious philosophy that I represent and stand for, I would die KNOWING that it was at the hands of OPEN ENEMIES OF TRUTH AND JUSTICE!

 

Letter Published in the Amsterdam News

Malcolm X: Did His Ultimate Sacrifice Bring Any Tangible Gains to the Black Freedom Struggle?

There is quite possibly no greater frustration among those who have chosen to carry the huge banner of Black Nationalism than the witnessing of those whose cause that you continually champion making the same mistakes that guarantee a continuation of their oppression. Unfortunately, I realize that I have much company when I enter those private moments that invariably lead me to question if the arduous tasks and constant frustrations experienced while attempting to uplift a people who behave as if they do not mind the continuation of their politico-economic exploitation and social outcast status is even worth the Herculean effort? As mentioned above, I realize that I have much company when it comes to this type of thinking.

Although I realize that I have only given some of myself to the struggle, while there are others such as Brother Malcolm X who gave all, I believe that it is within reasonable bounds to wonder if the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, such as Brother Malcolm, has made an iota difference in the historical struggle to uplift a stubborn Black America.

When reflecting upon the life, legacy, and untimely death of Malcolm X, I am reminded of his order to the black man that it is time for him to “Wake up, clean up and stand up.” Such a directive appears to be not only sensible, but also easily achievable by a people who have served as a reliable resource for other groups seeking to increase some combination of political power, economic might, and social status.

According to Malcolm X, the path out of this jungle of unconscionable exploitation for the black man and woman was a fairly rudimentary plan.

  • Starting black businesses so that the black dollar could be circulated among them.
  • Creating political solidarity sufficient to not only elect representatives to represent our interests, but also capable of “holding their feet to the fire” after they were elected.
  • Abandoning any vices retarding “the liberation and salvation of the black nation,” such as: alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, financial irresponsibility, political illiteracy, lack of an education, uncivilized behavior toward one another, and the destruction of the black family.

I am certain that you realize that none of the above ideas originated with Brother Malcolm. It is this reality that calls into question the legacy of not only Malcolm X, but also the many other leaders who have appeared in our community carrying a similar message, suspect.

So the question before us is a rather simple one. In a climate where it appears that the dial measuring the fortunes of African-Americans has remained stationary, did the contributions and sacrifices of Malcolm X matter at all?

Prior to answering this query, we should first take this opportunity to examine the present condition of Black America.

  • African-American children lag behind all others in educational achievement.
  • African-American children are being disproportionately raised in single-parent female headed households.
  • African-American communities remain a reliable path to financial improvement for any non-black group in the nation.
  • African-American wealth accumulation lags behind every other group, including newly arrived immigrant groups.
  • African-Americans, male and female, are incarcerated at a rate that far exceeds their proportion of the American populace.
  • African-American marriages are more likely than not to end in divorce.
  • African-American women far exceed their male counterparts in
    • Educational achievement
    • Income earned
    • Social Status
    • Political Activism
  • Understanding of African-American manhood constructs are nearly non-existent among black males and females.
  • There is a sizable population of African-American men who should be considered “unmarriageable.”

In light of the above list, we are once again faced with the query of did Malcolm X’s existence mean anything beyond being inspirational for a few African-Americans. If Brother Malcolm’s sacrifices meant something more, what tangible changes occurred as a result of his esteemed legacy?

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Where Are the Black Nationalists Today?: How Malcolm X Would Answer That Question

As I am confident that you can understand, February 21st, the date of Malcolm X’s assassination, will always be a particularly challenging day for those who still revere the Black Nationalist Titan. The alluded to admiration is little more than a public recognition that Malcolm X’s political life remains the gold standard for “what a black man ought to be and ought to do.” It is this recognition of Malcolm as our “black shining prince” that forces me to expose my students to his revolutionary legacy repeatedly. Experience has taught me that my best intentions to discuss the legacy of Brother Malcolm with my students will invariably leave me disenchanted by their lack of knowledge and what it says about the flawed education occurring within today’s Black America.

In many ways, my angst regarding yet another generation of African-American youth having neither exposure nor comprehension of Malcolm X is heightened because it definitively proves our failure to apply one of his most basic admonishments regarding who should have access to the minds of black children. In his usual style, Malcolm X sternly admonished Black America that “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children.” When one considers the current absence of knowledge and understanding found in the latest generation of African-American students, it is clear that the unwise educational philosophies of so-called African-American leaders have proven them to be the fools that Malcolm’s brilliant quote cited.

The alluded to black leaders have apparently failed to understand even the most basic lessons of racial uplift that Malcolm propagated throughout his political life. It is this failure to adhere to logical positions such as Malcolm’s directive that it is crucial that the black man and woman adopt Black Nationalism and focus all of their energies on controlling “the politics of their community, the economics of their community, and the educational base of their community” that has helped create yet another generation of African-American youth devoid of an understanding of their past, their current status, and what needs to occur in the future.

Make no mistake about it; a confused and unanchored citizenry is one of the many consequences that will be visited upon any people that fail to control the politics, economics, and education of their community. The implications of Black America’s collective failure to control these variables are displayed on a daily basis by the woeful state of today’s Black America.

This matter brings us to an all-important question of why have these things occurred? Although it is a harsh and daunting conclusion, it appears that the African-American threshold for pain and misery is unconscionably high. Put simply, the miserable plight that Black America has seemingly always existed within is not bothersome enough to cause them to learn and then apply basic Black Nationalist principles such as political solidarity, economic collectivism, and providing their children with an education that addresses their particular issues and problems.

The consequences of this failure should make every African-American cringe. At this present moment we are being exploited for our economic resources by any group that needs them, black political leaders have repeatedly proven ineffective at every turn, and even our intellectual class has turned their focus away from educating and liberating our people for money and prestige from white institutions. Consider for a moment that few black academicians are even attempting to address the large politico-economic problems affecting their kind.

I often return to Malcolm’s quote, “Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children” because it succinctly explains this mess of a community that we are currently witnessing. If Proverbs 23:7 (As a man thinketh, so is he) is valid, it is not difficult to understand why it is increasingly rare to encounter young black people interested in working for the uplift of their community. The best explanation for this occurrence is that they are neither receptive to nor are receiving Black Nationalist ideas from parents, teachers, mentors, or professors.

It appears that our failure to “hold the line” and make the development and protection of the black community our greatest priority haunts us in an unconscionable manner. Consider for a moment that in a national climate where racial bias is most certainly on the rise, much African-American youth are seeking to deny the existence of racism. The alluded to persons foolishly advance an idea that if we just refuse to acknowledge the existence and detrimental effects of prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, and racism in the black community that these vices will magically disappear.

I am confident that if he were alive today, Brother Malcolm would angrily state that “these things are predictable when you allow your oppressor to educate your children. These very children have no choice but not only to adopt but also assist in the further destruction of their community. They have become just what you are. A Negro that is not only totally out of his mind, but also not in possession of enough courage or sense to take a single step toward solving his problems.” Despite my most fervent attempts to come to a different conclusion, I know in my heart that such a statement does characterize who we have become. And for that reason, we should all be ashamed and disappointed.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017

Why it is Imperative that African-Americans View James Baldwin’s “I Am Not Your Negro”

I remember the rather sharp exchange with one of my student’s as if it occurred yesterday. We had gotten into an intellectual altercation regarding what exactly made one BLACK. Her assertion was that there were a million ways to be BLACK, so it was, therefore, impossible to either validate or invalidate an individual’s blackness. I vehemently disagreed with her assertion.

A crucial aspect of my position revolved around the fact that if blackness was not biologically based, it must, therefore, be a politically useful social construct found in the minds, worldview, political perspectives and priorities. Put simply; I fervently believe that Race was created to provide whites an opportunity to efficiently cast aside non-whites as they moved to monopolize and then maintain those monopolies over every resource imaginable. I argued that since blackness is a state of mind that grows out of 400 years of experience on the North American continent, there must be something beyond the oppression that we have received at the hands of whites that glues my people together. From my perspective, I believe that the “something beyond the oppression that we have received at the hands of whites” is the intellectual tradition and worldview that we have developed as a result of our collective struggle against American racism. Considering such realities, I call into question not only this particular student’s blackness, but also all African-Americans blackness if they have never studied our great intellectuals who have dedicated their lives to examining, deconstructing, and then destroying socially constructed racial paradigms.

For my money, the leading social critic that Black America has ever created is our dear brother James Baldwin. Considering that I was desperately seeking to end the conflict mentioned above with this particular student, I went for the knockout blow by informing her that “If you haven’t read Baldwin, you are not only unqualified to discuss American race relations, but also unworthy of being considered an educated black person.” Although many may find such a broad statement unfair, it nonetheless reflects my perspective on the poignant writings and social commentary that James Baldwin delivered to an undeserving world.

Much of my intellectual life has been spent lamenting the woes of people whose uninformed perspectives regarding American racial matters would disappear “If only they would read Baldwin.”

So I am confident that you understand my exuberance at hearing Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck had taken on the task of fleshing out an aborted Baldwin project titled “Remember This House.” A house that Baldwin famously stated was burning and therefore Negroes should not seek to integrate into it. Peck’s vision of this project is now in American theaters as the documentary “I am not your Negro.”

Baldwin only wrote thirty pages on a project that was to be his personal account of the murders of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and what it revealed about the nation. Raoul Peck has not only succeeded in bringing “Remember This House” relatively brief sketch to the big screen but also delivered Baldwin’s genius to a new generation of Americans.

One of my consistent critiques of contemporary activists and so-called black leaders is their laziness in regards to engaging the writings of intellectual giants such as W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Marcus Garvey, and Huey P. Newton. Unfortunately, it appears that the unprecedented accessibility of information attributable to the internet, the majority of it not being well-researched, has caused an incurable laziness among the heirs to a rich African-American historical and activist legacy. However, recent experience has taught me that if a workable plan to liberate African-Americans if placed within the covers of a book, the vast majority of our people will never encounter it. They want their information not only to be entertaining but also requiring minimal effort on their part.

It is for this reason that I applaud Raoul Peck for bringing this brilliant documentary to the big screen as it removes all obstacles to African-Americans who have never encountered the unparalleled genius of the intellectual giant that was James Baldwin.

I am not your Negro is a film that you MUST go out and see for your intellectual benefit.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Culture 2017