Searching for Kemet: Malcolm X in Egypt

“We all know the name Malcolm X, but few of us have heard of Malik El-Shabazz, the name the civil rights activist adopted after his conversion to Islam and under which he journeyed to Cairo in the early 1960s. As those who travel in the pursuit of knowledge so often do, Malcolm travelled alone, arriving in the Egyptian capital just before embarking on a long journey through Africa. Malcolm’s time in Cairo is rarely touched upon. Still, it seems to have had an important impact on his politics towards the end of his life, sparking a new emphasis on Black unity and the importance of brotherhood in the face of white oppression. The year before Malcolm X’s last visit to Cairo, he’d left America to travel the Middle East and West Africa. When he returned on May 21st, 1963, he had visited Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, and Algeria. This journey also saw him undertake the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. The long journey to the holy city completely changed Malcolm’s worldview, marking a transition from the Black separatism that had defined his activism thus far. As he would later write in his autobiography, ‘the Holy City of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creator of All and felt like a complete human being.’ The road to this epiphany was a long one. Malcolm’s early experiences of racial violence gave him every right to believe that white people were devils. While his family had attempted to improve the relationship between Black and white residents in their native Omaha, they were eventually forced to flee after a white fascist organisation torched their home. Then, at the age of six, Malcolm’s father was killed in a racially motivated attack. Even his white teacher’s told him to consider a life in carpentry rather than Law, despite his excellent grades and sharp intellect. After landing a six-year prison sentence, Malcolm joined the Nation of Islam; an African American movement that combined ideas from Black Nationalism with Islamic teachings. He soon converted to Islam, later becoming one of the leading figures of the Nation movement. …”
Far Out Magazine (Video)
The Cross Cultural Solidarity History Project: The International Malcolm X

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