Fifty-eight years ago, Malcolm X was savagely cut down in a hail of gunfire in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. His assassination was witnessed by his wife Betty, his six daughters and hundreds of onlookers.
By April 1964, Malcolm had been exiled from the Nation of Islam, the organization he had grown into prominence. But his banishment was a blessing in disguise. He was now free to speak and act in ways that he never could before. He began a journey that would see him become an international figure and a major threat to the power structure in the United States.
In his famous 1964 speech, "The Ballot or the Bullet", Malcolm dispenses wisdom that applies as much to today as yesterday, as Americans of all backgrounds face unrestricted globalization and a permeable national border:
...[I]t's time now for our people to become conscious of the importance of controlling the economy of our community. If we own the stores, if we operate the businesses, if we try and establish some industry in our own community, then we're developing to the position where we are creating employment for our own kind. Once you gain control of the economy of your own community, then you don't have to picket and boycott and beg some cracker downtown for a job in his business."
Substitute the word "cracker" for "state/corporate elites" (who, to be fair, is likely also a cracker), and you've got as good a blueprint for self-determination and personal reliance as anyone ever laid out.
Today we mourn Malcolm X's murder, but we recall his spirit and brilliance, and we call upon his courage to enact the "world-wide revolution" we so desperately need.