First published in the Jan. 29, 1999 edition.
This month marks the 75th anniversary of The Hilltop, the nation’s largest Black collegiate newspaper. In the Jan. 22 edition of The Hilltop, the newspaper reprinted the front-page of the newspaper’s first edition, which was published on Jan. 22, 1924. In the coming weeks, the newspaper will reprint articles and photographs that evoked passion, and compelled students to stand for what they believe in. To evoke change, we believe, is our mission as journalists.
What follows is an editorial published in the Feb. 19, 1965 edition of The Hilltop. The editorial, which commenced on the assassination of civil rights activist Malcolm X, drew sharp criticism from the campus community and prompted several students to write letters to the editor. One of those letters, by student Ellarwee McGowan, has been reprinted. We invite your comments on the articles reprinted.
The Chicken Roosts Again
Shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, then the No.2 man in the Black Muslim movement, made what was to be one of the most insane statements of the 20th Century. Referring to the tragic event, he said in his characteristic acid tone: ”This is a case of the chickens coming home to roost.”
This past Sunday — one year, two months and twenty-nine days after Mr. Kennedy’s death — Malcolm, then the leader of his own Black Nationalist movement after
being purged of his Muslim leadership, lay dead in New York City, himself a victim of an assassin’s bullets.
Probably only a few people could find tears to shed at this man’s tragic passing. A great multitude perhaps breathed in relief, for his views did not win him many friends. The news of his death likely brought into the minds of many his own words, ” … the chicken coming home to roost (again).”
For all the evil that he stood for. it is still appropriate to briefly reflect on his life. Those who were fortunate to hear him speak could not deny that Malcolm
possessed the mind of an intellectual. When listening to him one could not help but wonder what heights he might have attained had he chosen more noble pursuits.
The Black Muslims attained prominence because of Malcolm. It was he who articulated their program and goals. It was he who was able to convince the world
that the Muslims were a force to be reckoned with, while in reality they were, and still are, only a small band of racial fanatics. It was he who made the Muslims attractive to thousands of Negroes and feared by thousands of whites.
Malcolm possessed unlimited oratorical powers. He was a born leader of men. His talents, if they had only been oriented towards more positive ends, could have
been an asset to the Negro race in their struggle for equality.
In life, Malcolm through his venomous diatribes was achieving the very thing he was so opposed to the eventual end of racial injustice. Many a white opposed to integration perhaps compared the goals of Martin Luther King and Malcolm and decided that King was the less bitter pill to swallow. Eventually, Malcolm’s goals could have only led to unprecedented violence.
In death, perhaps Malcolm will make another contribution to the American public. If his death was the result of a feud between him and Elijah Muhammed, then the resulting investigation should expose the Black Muslims for what they are – not a non-violent religious sect. but a vicious hate organization. The
sooner the government clamps down on their activities the better.
Letter to the Editor — March 5, 1965
This letter is written in protest of your editorial printed in the February 19, 1965, edition of The Hilltop. How nobel do all you bBlack people feel condemning Mr. Malcolm X, even to his death! What a pretty show you are putting on for your white ‘brethren’ ;” showing them that we can hate one of our own as well as one of theirs!
Since when does one berate a man who advocates a person’s fighting back? This is the height of imbecility. You have labeled his deeds as evil: yet who among you would call the maintenance of a man’s dignity evil? Or is it that you have been stripped of yours for so long that you no longer know what it is?
You will undoubtedly agree that we have taken too much from ‘Mr. Charlie’ for 100 long: yet you take pride in men who advocate a concentration of this suppression and persecution in the form of sit-ins, wade-ins, stand-ins and all sorts of other ‘ins’ . Have you been so ‘brain-washed’ or are you just so blind to what is happening around you? Do you need a full-scale racial war to show that no man can have respect for another when he refuses to demand that he be treated as a human being? Just whose side will you be on?
Do any of you know what the Muslims or any of the Black Nationalist stand for? Do you know anything about these groups besides what the white man has told you!
I believe the time has come for you to take stock of what is happening around you and decide for yourself just where it is you stand. Because whether or not you want to believe it there are sides and both of them are yours.
(Miss) Ellarwee McGowan