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.
While director D.W. Griffith‘s Birth of a Nation(1915) utilized revolutionary film techniques and influenced audiences nationwide, it is widely frowned upon today (and rightly so) for its grotesque racism. Lasting over three hours, the silent epic covers many personal, local, and national issues.
Griffith wanted the film to viewed as not only historically accurate, but morally true as well. Not simply a reflection of the culture, he hoped the film would help shape American culture (and it did, unfortunately).
On October 2nd, former UT student Chas Moore and more than 100 other members of the community marched through West Campus. Their chants echoed through the streets: “No more violence, no more silence” and “Don’t you hate, don’t you fear, people of color are welcome here.” It’s hard to disagree with that.