Fifty-two years after his assassination, Malcolm X continues to be a powerful and polarizing figure within American and African-American history. The civil rights icon, who was ruthlessly gunned down inside Harlem’s Audobon Ballroom on Feb. 21, 1965, never held his tongue when speaking about his love and loyalty for black people, and the intricate and hypocritical system that has kept African-Americans from achieving the same wealth and freedom as white people.
“As long as a white man does it, it’s alright. A black man is suppose to have no feelings. But when a black man strikes back, he’s an extremist. He’s suppose to sit back passively and have no feelings, be non violent and love his enemy no matter what kind of attack–albeit verbal or otherwise–he’s suppose to take it. But if he stands up in anyway, and tries to defend himself, then he’s an extremist.”
Malcolm’s teachings, however, weren’t solely about pointing the finger at outside influences. The Omaha native, also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, made sure to hold his people accountable for their actions as well. In Los Angles 1962, just three years before his murder, he boldly asked an auditorium of his peers a simple question, “Who Taught You To Hate Yourself?”
“Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin to such extent that you bleach it to get like the white man? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourselves from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?”
And while Malcolm never got a chance to see his little girls grow into beautiful women, or the many advancements of his people, his influence and teachings have inspired generations to come. Relive Ossie Davis’ powerful eulogy as well as the late leader delivering his speech on May 5, 1962 in Los Angeles, California down below.