36.3: “He the One We All Knew”

“He the One We All Knew”
vol. 36, no. 3, Summer 2013
Guest Editor: Njoroge Njoroge
Malcolm X, 16 Feb. 1965 © copyright Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis.

This cluster of essays is dedicated to the loving memory of Jayne Cortez (1934–2012). Jayne was a poet, scholar, activist, organizer, and musician. Her spirit and her presence is deeply missed.

He the One We All Knew” by Njoroge Njoroge

This issue is dedicated to an examination of the life and thought of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. The contributors explore different facets of the biography, legacy, and memory of Malcolm X and his relevance to contemporary politics. By introducing new research and building on previous scholarship, this volume seeks to expand and elaborate upon the complicated life narrative of the man we know as Malcolm X.

‘Come down off the cross and get under the crescent’: The Newspaper Columns of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X” by Jamie J. Wilson

The newspaper columns written by Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad and published in African American newspapers in the late 1950s and early 1960s offer the first public delineation of the Nation of Islam’s world view. This essay examines the major themes discussed in these columns to argue that the Nation’s political and religious ideas were part of an evolving discourse simultaneously built on late nineteenth and early twentieth century Black Nationalist thought, and were responsive to the times within which they were written.

‘If you’re in a country that’s progressive, the woman is progressive’: Black Women Radicals and The Making of the Politics and Legacy of Malcolm X” by Erik S. McDuffie and Komozi Woodard

This article examines the crucial but understudied role black women radicals such as Vicki Garvin, Louise Little, Betty Shabazz, and Queen Mother Audley Moore played in shaping the black revolutionary politics and legacy of Malcolm X. Dynamic activist-intellectuals, these women’s collaborations with Malcolm X speak to the importance of black women in the making of the black radical tradition.

Brother Malcolm, Comrade Babu: Black Internationalism and the Politics of Friendship” by Seth M. Markle

This essay examines the interrelationship between travel and friendship, exploring the dynamics of Malcolm X’s relationship with Tanzanian radical Adbulrahman Mohamed Babu over a series of moments in 1964. By revisiting speeches, travel diaries, transcribed interviews, and personal letters, I present an alternative biographical narrative of Malcolm’s “final conversion” from Nation of Islam leader to black internationalist, chronicling the meanings and significances he ascribed to African decolonization.

Malcolm X, Sexual Hearsay, and Masculine Dissemblance” by Khary Polk

Noting the use of rumor within African American communities as a form of dissemblance, this essay examines the controversial reception of Manning Marable’s posthumous biography of Malcolm X, which resuscitates speculation that the slain civil rights icon engaged in sex work with white men during the 1940s. I consider how the denial of these rumors shapes our understanding and memory of Malcolm X while pointedly questioning whether such tools have outlived their usefulness as methods of resistance in the black public sphere.