Today in America, Evangelicals are estimated to make up a quarter of the population, or, at least, according to other estimates, 50 million people. The term ‘evangelical’ has a lot of connotations and stereotypes associated with it. For example, some consider an Evangelical to be “anyone who likes Billy Graham.” Like most stereotypes, some of the characterizations of Evangelicals are at least partly rooted in truth. But who are American Evangelicals really? In this essay, I will examine what it means to be an evangelical, the origins and history of evangelicalism, and modern evangelicalism before concluding.
Perhaps the shortest and easiest way to summarize the life of Malcolm Little, ‘Detroit Red’, ‘Satan’, Malcolm X, and finally El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is to quote Ossie Davis, who explained to a magazine why he eulogized Malcolm X: “He had been a criminal, an addict, a pimp, and a prisoner; a racist, and a hater, he had really believed the white man was a devil. But all this had changed. Two days before his death, in commenting to Gordon Parks about his past life he said: ‘That was a mad scene. The sickness and madness of those days! I’m glad to be free of them.’” Or, as Columbia professor Manning Marable subtitled his biography of Malcolm X, it was A Life of Reinvention. In his own Autobiography, Malcolm noted that his “whole life had been a chronology of changes.” His life molded the world, and his legacy still lives on today, both globally and locally.