Dennis Childs on the History and Significance of Malcolm X

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On August 10, Dennis Childs (Professor of Literature, UCSD) spoke about the history and significance of Malcolm X at the San Diego Central Library History Talk for the 50th anniversary of the Autobiography of Malcolm X. A collaboration between Malcolm X and Alex Haley, the book tells the story of the life of human rights activist Malcolm X through a series of interviews that took place between 1963 and his assassination in 1965.

"Something about Malcolm that doesn't often get elucidated - that is his humor, his humerous tone. What kept people rivted for 4 and 5 hours on 7th Avenue and Lenox in Harlem? What kept them riveted? Now the establishment, the media establishment during that time would have had you thought that what kept them riveted was some sort of pseudo-scientific hatred of white people, which is just preposterous. Because what he often talked about was that there was a system, a structure of terror, that made it so, with the attrocities of slavery and neoslavery and Jim Crow apartheid, that something like a healing was taking place in those moments when he was speaking in front of Oscar Micheaux's bookstore on that corner, there was something like a healing involved. And being told by someone who they trusted, who was of them, of their community, that their life meant something. In other words, the Black Lives Matter movement is something that owes part of its lineage to the movements Malcolm X was a part of, either central or tangential to."

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