Socialist Worker

Malcolm X: ‘We are living in an era of revolution’

Malcolm X was assassinated 40 years ago this week. His ideas can continue to inspire us in the struggle for liberation today, says Cheryl Garvey

Issue No. 1940a

Cheryl Garvey

Cheryl Garvey


Malcolm X lived just 40 short years. However the impact of the man’s action, ideals, beliefs and journey has as strong a resonance for the post millennium era as it had in the 1960s.

Like many I “discovered” Malcolm X in my mid-teens. Increasingly aware of the global dimensions of power and oppression, I looked for the heroes and “sheroes” of past and present for inspiration, motivation and knowledge. In the aftermath of the 1985 uprisings in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, the teachings of Malcolm X found a new congregation of second generation immigrant kids dealing with the daily grind of racism.

But at that time my knowledge of Malcolm and what his life and journey meant was limited to the few powerful quotes I could recount. It was much later in life that I discovered the “real” Malcolm.

For me Malcolm X signifies what it truly means to be part of the struggle for the rights of the oppressed.

He embraced change and new learning, evident in his movement away from black nationalism to a broader agenda that linked oppressed people by experience as opposed to identity.

If there was one aspect of brother Malcolm’s teaching that I hold above all others, it is the quote, “the future belongs to those who prepare for it today”.

As someone working in the contemporary world of race equality, Malcolm X continues to be an inspiration, a relevant and meaningful reference. Bound up in his life, journey, teachings and beliefs are important messages of our history and for our future.

Cheryl Garvey is a Birmingham-based anti-racist activist and a member of the national council of Respect. For more information go to www.respectcoalition.org

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