Malcolm X

When it comes to African American history, the world knows the amount and types of issues that this community has faced and continues to face to this day. A lot of people have suffered attacks with the bases of racism leading the problem. One of the biggest issues that the black community had to face in the past was slavery.

And, many black people have possessed enough courage within themselves to stand up and confront their abusive white counterpart. Thanks to incredible social movements, the African American community has gained their freedom and their rights as part of the society.

Even though the fight is not over yet, they surely have accomplished an enormous progress and they haven’t given up. The black community has had the presence and leadership of incredible men and women that have been willing to lead movements with the goal of obtaining a better quality of life for all African Americans. And plenty of those people were so fully compromised that they were murdered defending causes they believed in.

Who was Malcolm X?

One of these important and transcendent people was Malcolm X. He is a big reference in African American history, and he had a story quite different from other black leaders. Since the beginning of his life until the day he was shot and killed.

Malcolm Little was born in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. He had an intensely conflictive and controversial life since the very start. His family had to be moving from house to house since he was a little boy due to racial aggressions they were constantly receiving. As a consequence of one of the aggressions, Malcolm’s father was murdered in 1931.

His mother clinically lost her mind and was sent to a psychiatric hospital after she lost the custody of her children. Malcolm left to New York at a very young age and was living off the criminality of the streets. He became a thief and a drug dealer for some years, until the day he was captured by the police and condemned to seven years in jail.

Once he was in jail, he began to change his intentions and his way of thinking about life and he wanted to do with his. He left his drug addictions and began to study while in prison. There, he met other black men who told him about a religious movement called “NOI” that stands for Nation of Islam.

Malcolm was deeply moved and convinced by the ideology of the movement and he decided to follow it in a big scale. He got in contact with the founder of the religious movement and many of their most important leaders at that time.

The Nation of Islam is a religious and political movement that strongly believes that black people are superior to white people. Not only that, but they also have the conviction that those who are white are devils.

When he began his path with the Nation of Islam was when he made the decision of changing his original last name, “Little”, and substitute it with the letter “X”. It is believed that the “X” was the original last name of African predecessors that had been lost with white dominance.

He no longer wanted anything to do with anything that came from white people, not even his last name. As he stated in an occasion, white people were certainly devils because of their actions; murder, slavery, steal, rape and use bombs against others. He was soon a true follower of the idea that black people were superior to white people and that their disappearance was imminent.

After years of following the leader of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X reached a point where he no longer coincided with every aspect of the movement. Soon enough he started to receive death threats because of this reason.

His ideas started to transform into ones that still believed in the need for black people to defend themselves in any way possible, with or without the support of government, but now he had begun to embrace the fact of equality and eradicate the idea of racial separation.

He started his own movement with the help of the lessons from Islam and his trips to the Mecca to deepen his understanding of the religion. This international experience along with others, contributed to his changing of mind. He continued with the defense of all African Americans until the day he was shot 16 times in the chest, during a meeting on February 21st 1965, after being threatened anonymously and publicly many times before.

Toni Morrison

We talked about ten astounding black authors in the last article. And, one of the names featured in it was Toni Morrison. She was born on February 18th 1931 in Ohio, with the name of Chloe Ardelia Wofford. If you have ever heard about her, you have surely heard about her numerous prizes in literature.

Toni Morrison is one of the biggest and most recognized authors. Her works are focused in the lives of women of color and the way they have changed throughout the years and the evolution of society’s ideology and overall citizen acceptance.

She is known for many books, essays, and poems, but there are some that truly shot her to fame in this literature world. We mentioned one of her most controversial works in the last article, which is “The Bluest Eye”, published in 1970. But, her most famous writing is considered to be a trilogy that begins with a book called “Beloved”, which was published in 1987.

“Beloved” was inspired by a true story of an African American woman who had been captured in slavery but managed to escape. Even though escaping slavery is quite a dramatic situation in itself, the real and intense drama begins when the main character, Margaret Garner, is facing the possibility of being taken in slavery once again.

Garner, absorbed by fear and desperation caused by this fact, decides to kill her two-year old daughter and then commit suicide to avoid becoming a slave again. But, just before taking action in killing herself, after she had already murdered her baby, she is captured. The plot continues to take place as the baby’s ghost, Beloved, is haunting her mother.

Although the book received good reviews from many other authors, book reviewers and the public, it also received many bad comments from the conservative side of society due to its plot. That didn’t stop “Beloved” from rising to be a best seller for 25 weeks.

“Jazz” and “Paradise” were her second and third publications respectively that followed and completed the trilogy. These and other books of hers have been featured in prestigious and important magazines and TV shows. But what deeply made a difference was when Oprah Winfrey decided to feature Toni Morrison on her talk show along with some of her works through a reading club and, if that wasn’t enough, Oprah brought “Beloved” to the screens.

She performed as the main character, Margaret Garner, and she was the co-producer of the film. These actions by Oprah Winfrey definitely created a huge boom in Morrison’s fame and success.

Toni Morrison is the owner of an incredible amount of prizes and recognitions, from which we can highlight the following:

• In 1993, when Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature, she became the very first black woman in the world to win this prize.

• In 1998 she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, considered the most significant magazine of its kind and era in the United States. This time, she once again contributed to black women achievements in history, because she was the second woman and the second black writer to be the face of the magazine.

• In 2005 Oxford University gave her an Honorary Doctor of Letters.

• In 2006, after a thorough and rigorous investigation and selection, the New York Times Book Review chose “Beloved” to be awarded and recognized as “the best work of American fiction published in the previous 25 years” for the accomplishments that the book had gained becoming a classic in university’s curriculum and transcending into the literature world as a black female.

• She was a professor emeritus at Princeton University and in 2012 she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, handed by former President Barack Obama.

Besides being a prominent author, Morrison worked as an editor as well, among famous collaborations and editions she made, you can find that she worked on the autobiography of boxer Muhammad Ali.

As an editor she always worked towards bringing black authors out of the “backstage”. Her position as a senior editor in the fiction department of Random House was a huge support for this. She became the first black woman to hold that position there as well.

Thanks to all her writing, thrive and collaboration, Toni Morrison is, ironically, a beloved and proud black woman, that has achieved around 31 groundbreaking prizes and prestigious international recognition.

For more info, we invite you to search for toni morrison’s wikipedia.