Film shows life of Malcolm X
May 6, 2009 6:47 PM
To celebrate the 15th anniversary of SF State's Malcolm X mural and what would have been Malcolm X's 74th birthday, a film was shown Wednesday in the Cesar Chavez Student Center to honor the human rights activist.
Around 25 people gathered on the top floor's Jack Adams Hall to watch "Life and Death of Malcolm X". The movie showed the political career of the African American leader through a collection of speeches made by him and others closely involved in his life. The extensive, rare and grainy footage of Malcom X was the reason the film was selected over Spike Lee's blockbuster film "Malcolm X".
The event was part of the 15th annual Malcolm X celebration, a two-day event which this year includes speeches, discussion panels and a talent show fundraiser. It was organized by school organizations the Black Student Union, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Initiative and the Muslim Student Association.
"We are here to educate and honor Malcolm X on a full spectrum," said Justin Metoyer, a BSU coordinator. "He is characterized as violent and racist when his main objective was to fight oppression."
During the 1950's and 60's civil rights movement, Malcolm X preached Pan-Africanism, unity amongst native Africans and other people of African descent, as a solution to the United States' race issues. He was a longtime spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, a black rights and spiritual group known for its separationist beliefs. Malcolm X has often been touted in the media as the extreme opposite of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Life and Death of Malcolm X" is broken into two-parts, a format that helps dispel many of the generalizations made about him. The first half of the movie shows the Nation of Islam period of his life in which he speaks of the "white devil" and the inability of whites and blacks living together. The second shows Malcolm X after his withdrawal from the organization after he discovers corruption in leader and supposed prophet "The Honorable" Elijah Muhammad. This, plus a spiritual trip to Mecca, leaves Malcolm X preaching less about the evils of the white man and more about the need for love and unity amongst all people.
"I found it so interesting to see his progression," said Armand Bauduin, a senior BECA major. "He was always maturing in his life the way we hope to mature."
The most shocking part of the movie was a recording Malcolm X made secretly when the FBI, hoping he'd be bitter against the Nation of Islam, tried to squeeze information out of him about the group and even said they could "eliminate" members.
The taped conversation was discussed by audience members after the film, as was his controversial assassination in 1965 and his impact on today's society. At one point, a member of the Nation of Islam stood up and urged students to do more than just watch the film and get involved in anti-oppression causes.
Many in the crowd agreed that the lessons of Malcolm X were very relevant in a society they consider still unequal for minorities.
"These speeches could still speak to today," said creative writing sophomore Chenel King. "There are still so many problems."
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