Lecturer: Malcolm X not fully understood
Americans should take the positive aspects from the life of Malcolm X and implement them into their own lives, former Nation of Islam member Siraj Wahhaj said Wednesday in Agnes Arnold Auditorium.
Wahhaj said he wanted members of the audience to learn about the good qualities Malcolm X possessed and not simply idolize his entire life, which included crime and jail time.
"After learning more about him, take the good things that he did, realize that he had different stages in his life… and try to duplicate, replicate, imitate that part that’s good rather than just saying, ‘I love Malcolm, I love Malcolm,’ and really idolize him…. We live in a society that simply idolize(s) people and we don’t take from the lessons," Wahhaj said.
He also said memorizing the life of Malcolm X without understanding the struggles he faced would be pointless.
"To me, it’s insane to simply quote Malcolm and not learn the lessons of Malcolm," Wahhaj said.
The UH Muslim Student Association collaborated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to present a program on the life of Malcolm X as a part of Black History Month.
As a former member of the Nation of Islam and convert to Islam, Wahhaj said he understood where Malcolm X was coming from.
Although Malcolm X was a powerful leader, his legacy has faded because he lacked close companions to carry on his message after his death, Wahhaj said.
Muslim Mosque Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity were two establishments Malcolm X founded, but are all but lost today because he didn’t have companions who were willing to carry on his legacy, Wahhaj said.
"One of things that we have to learn is you can’t just have a charismatic figure. You have to have a figure that people surround him and carry out his ideals in the forms of institutions," Wahhaj said. "If you don’t have an institution… you have a man (who is) charismatic, and he’s dead and the movement is dead."
Two members of the Nation of Islam assassinated Malcolm X in February 1965 while he was giving a speech in Manhattan.
Wahhaj said the black community has benefited from people such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., just two people in American history who demanded equal rights for blacks. He said presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama is an example of how the dreams of the black community have changed in recent years.
Malcolm X and King were powerful because of the inspiration and hope they offered, Wahhaj said.
"These are dangerous people because they can motivate and inspire people to be something, better than what they are," Wahhaj said.