By Gerald V. Paul
“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it,”- Malcolm X (as seen in the ACLC office).
Malcolm X’s mother Louise Little was born in Grenada, came to Canada and was eventually a follower of Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey, the pioneer of the civil rights struggle, leading to today’s Black Lives Matter.
In an interview on his mother’s influence on his life Malcolm X said, “Most people in the Caribbean are still proud that they are Black, proud of their African blood, proud of their heritage and I think this type of pride was instilled in my mother, and she instilled it in us, being an active member of Marcus Garvey.”
“It’s the rebellion spirit continuing in a new generation, removing the old mind-set and paving the way for the youth demographic,” said Grenadian-born Mawe Ya Bahari, the djembe drummer.
Members of the community gathered at Regent Park Community Centre next to Nelson Mandela Park Public School last Saturday for the second-annual Malcolm X Day celebration, thanks to the African Canadian Muslim Association (ACMA).
Khalid Haneef-Nabari welcomed the gathering and said although the event was driven by the ACMA, it’s broader in scope and wider in addressing the needs of the community. He noted it’s an African American unity made relevant by the shooting of members of the community.
Brother Lennox Farrell, a veteran in the struggle and educator, shared his lived experiences and added, “One thing we must never lose as we go through life: compassion and hope for the future.”
The Pathfinders Publications’ Frank Gorton, on hand with copies of Malcolm X’s books, told The Camera, “I was moved to tears when I read of Malcolm X’s death.”
Jamaica’s beloved Prince of Reggae, the late Dennis Brown who was influenced by Malcolm X and whose music has been the “punctuation to the stories of our own lives” summed it up this way: “All man live in unity … because of Malcolm X.”
And Guyana’s poet, writer and educator Jan Carew offered a glimpse of Malcolm X in Africa, England and the Caribbean after he transformed himself into el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz. Carew interviewed Malcolm X, only a few weeks before he was killed in 1965.
African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC) chair Rawle Elliott told the gathering the ACLC, uses test case litigation to address anti -Black racism and other forms of systemic and institutional discrimination. The ACLC also provides education about human rights and racial discrimination in Canada.
As a civil rights activist and the voice of the Black Muslim faith, Malcolm X challenged the mainstream civil rights movement and nonviolent pursuit of integration championed by Martin Luther King Jr., urging followers to defend themselves against white aggression “by any means necessary.”
His bestselling book The Autobiography of Malcolm X popularized his ideas, particularly among young Black youth and laid the foundation for the Black Power movement of the late 1960’s and 1970’s, where a number of Caribbean people were active participants and served as leaders.