The nation is being flummoxed in recent days with debate over race relations, bullying of ethnic minorities, the slaughter of Latinos and other Americans in two American cities by madmen packing assault weapons.
Then I noticed a picture this morning in the Dallas Morning News. It was of a street sign carrying the name of Malcolm X; it’s in South Dallas, as is the sign posted with this brief blog item.
It struck me immediately that Malcolm X once was known as a fiery African-American radical, a member of the Nation of Islam. He preached for the separation of the races — black and white. He once adhered to the Black Panther mantra of “anything goes” to achieve a goal; and by “anything,” it meant violent means if necessary.
Toward the end of his life, though, Malcolm X mellowed. He moved more toward the Martin Luther King Jr. philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience. He doused the fire in his rhetoric whenever he spoke.
Then in 1965, while delivering a speech in New York City, Malcolm X was gunned down by Nation of Islam devotees who didn’t like his transformation into a more mainstream civil rights leader.
But the sign identifying a street in his memory caught my eye this morning. I lived in two Texas communities prior to moving to Collin County this past year — Beaumont and Amarillo — that have wrestled mightily with naming streets after MLK Jr. Beaumont eventually built a beautiful parkway that cuts through the middle of the city; Amarillo hasn’t done it … yet. That they would even consider naming a thoroughfare after Malcolm X is, to my way of thinking, incomprehensible.
Where am I going with this? I merely want to point out that some communities are able to look way past certain aspects of individuals’ history and recognize their total body of work.
As my wife and I are fairly new to the Dallas area, I was unaware of Malcolm X’s name being memorialized in this manner. I’m glad I saw it and am glad to share these meager thoughts as we grapple with the national trauma brought upon us in a hail of insane gunfire.