Malcolm & Martin: Intersecting Visions of Justice


>>Hello everyone. Thank you so much for
coming out tonight. Welcome.
Assalamualaikum. We are delighted to have you
with us this afternoon. My name is Jumanah Saadeh. I’m a staff member
at the University of Michigan
Biological Station and part time grad student. Assalamualaikum.
>>And last year I served as the president of the Muslims
Students Association. And I’m a recent
U of M alum.>>So, before
we get started, I do want to state that while we were
unable to have CART services provided for the lecture in real time, the live stream is
being closed captioned. And the event
which is being recorded will also have
closed captioning. And we do have ASL interpreters
present today. Thank you again so very much for being
here tonight. This event could
not have been possible without
the support of so many people and
by the grace of God. It would take too long
to name each person. But I do need
to acknowledge a few key individuals. Dr. Debbie Willis of Rackham Graduate School who nurtured our initial idea. Dr. Lumas Helaire
who patiently advised us throughout
the planning process. Our guest speakers Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer and Stephen Ward who
consulted with us on the event and helped
it to blossom. Of course, to our
keynote speaker Imam Omar Suleiman
for flying out midweek of this exciting
and important event on allyship and
social justice. And last but certainly not least our families who supported us over
the past year as we made this event
come to fruition. We are so grateful to the village that it took for making
this event happen. Thank you to all for coming out for this event. And we are very
delighted to have a MLK symposium event outside the
traditional months. Thank you also
to our sponsors especially the Office of Diversity Equity
and Inclusion, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, and the Ross
School of Business to name a few. We had over 30
units from across campus donate funds so that this event
could happen. I – the full list of sponsors is listed
on the screen. And also, on the backs
of your programs. Please join me
in giving them a tremendous round
of applause. [ Applause ]>>
When Jumanah and I attended a similar
lecture last year, taught by Imam Omar we were captivated by
his presentation on the depth and complexity of the dialog between
Malcolm and Martin. We both immediately
saw the benefit of bringing this discussion on
movement building, to the University
of Michigan. We’re especially excited to honor Malcolm and Martin’s unique ties to Michigan. And to this very campus. Malcom X spent much of early childhood in
Michigan and later returned on several
occasions to visit the Nation of Islam’s Temple One in Detroit. We extended an
invitation to members of that
community which is now known as the
Masjid Wali Muhammad but they were
sadly not able to come due to last
minute emergency. Dr. King visited the University of
Michigan in November.>>We’re here.>>Oh.
Well they’re here. Masha’Allah.>>Give them a
round of applause. [ Applause ]>>Dr. King visited the
university of Michigan in November of 1962 where he gave a speech just behind us in
Hill Auditorium during the height of the civil right movement. In so many ways our campus, our state and our
country have been shaped by the long moral arcs
of these two men, their families, and the movements
they pioneered. So, we would be remiss to not mention these ties. We also want to take
the opportunity to inform you all of the Islamophobia — of the MSA’s ongoing
efforts with the Islamophobia
Working Group around Ramadan 2020+. In April 2020 the MSA
and IWG will be hosting open seminars for both Muslin and
non-Muslin students. So, please keep an
eye for the schedule which will be released during the winter semester. And we hope that you
all will join us God willing for these exciting
community events. We would also
like highlight two events
happening through the Arab and Muslin American
Studies Department. On Thursday September
26th there will be film screening A Muslims Guide
to Marriage. And on Wednesday October 9th AMAS will be hosting an interact – and
intersectional discussion titled Latin X and Muslim. So, now I’m delighted
to introduce Dr. Lumas Helaire who’s
our mentor and who is serving as the moderator
for this evening. Dr. Lumas has over 15 years of experience in
designing and developing programs
for the university – for the university
community. He oversees the
operations for the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives and directs several
programs as his role as
associate director. He also chairs
the University of Michigan’s Martin
Luther King Jr. Symposium of which this
is an official event. So please join me in giving a warm welcome
to Dr. Lumas. [ Applause ] [
Background Noise ]>>Thank you. Greetings everyone.
>>Greetings.>>How you all feeling
this evening?>>Good.>>Let me just say I
love that we are here, that felt good to hear the ownership of space. I would like to
say thank you to Jumanah and Mohammad for inviting me to work with you on this project. And thank you to the Muslim Student
Association for this work
on this event. Almost, almost a year ago Jumanah and
Mohammed came to me enthused about bringing
Imam Omar Suleiman to campus as part
of the symposium. And I applaud you Jumanah for the work that you put in over
this summer. If you ever done
an event you know. But if you have
not done an event let me let you
know it is not an easy thing to coordinate academics because we
have busy schedules. And then to get everyone in this room and get
everyone excited. And she put in a
lot of thought, a lot of effort and she, she checked in
with a lot of people to make sure this
event could happen. And she is the one
who spearheaded this with the support
of Mohamad and myself. So, please give Jumanah
and Mohammed a hand. [ Applause ]>>I’m also appreciative to
Dr. Su’ad Khabeer and Dr. Steven Ward
for the wisdom to include a dialog
with this lecture to ensure that black and non-Muslim and female
voices are also lifted in this discussion of Muslim and non-Muslim
black males. Again, I serve as the
associate director in the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives in the chair of the
University of Michigan’s annual Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium. It’s a
pleasure to recognize this lecture and dialog as the first symposium event
of the school year. Though most of the
events will occur between January
and February acknowledging this one as part of the
symposium makes the point that the work of promoting social justice is not a seasonal affair. Indeed, social justice work is constant, multifaceted,
multigenerational. It’s non-linear and
always involved – evolving in our
understanding of what it means, who it involves, and
where it takes us. OME is just one of many cosponsors
of this event. OME is cosponsoring
this event as part of our newest
initiative called The Particularities a term borrowed from woman and
scholar Emily Towns. One of the major
challenges in American society is
that the characteristic of the dominant group
is constructed as the universal and
only standard while other groups
are marginalized. And we know this. The classic demonstration
of this is when history and social
studies classes are dominated by European and European American history. And whenever the stories any one group are left out, decentered or distorted
it leaves us all struggling to
connect with one another struggling
to see one another. And while there has been acknowledgement
that we can and must do more on our – in and out of our schools. The reality is that
there are those who resist the inclusion
of all people. The particularities
initiative is promoting the simple notion that to understand any story we must do – to understand any story we must do it in relation to other stories. Before we can get
to the universal, we must bring attention to the particular stories
we have left out. So, OME is collaborating
with student orgs, colleges and departments to promote the stories of various groups
traditionally minimized in the dominant narrative. And I’m excited that tonight’s entree into a particularity
is about how we better understand
Malcolm story and Martins story as they are discussed in relation
to one another. Like many people Malcolm and Martin were
presented to me s two giants with opposing strategies for
a similar aim. The liberation of
black people or the advancement
of black people. Yet, as I read their works and listened to their
speeches for myself, I began to attend to a broader and richer
narrative for each of them for all of us. There is something
special in each of their stories
and something enlightening when these two independent and largely unconnected other
then time and context are
viewed together. So, as Imam Suleiman walks us through
this exploration, we are all bound to be challenged
and inspired to a reexamination in
discussing Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. in intersecting
visions of justice. After Imam Suleiman’s
20 well 25, 35-minute lecture we
will be joined by two UM professors
Dr. Su’ad Khabeer and Steven Ward who’s introduction I will
give at that time. Following the dialog,
we will pen it up for a structured Q and A with the audience. And there, there are index cards going around. There are index cards going around for
you to write your questions to
submit for the Q and A. So, now for the
introduction of Imam Omar Suleiman. He is an American
Muslim leader, civil rights activist
and speaker. Suleiman is a New
Orleans native who began his tenure as a
community leader in his home town and oversaw the hurricane Katrina
relief efforts through ICNA Relief a
non-profit relief fund. He has since risen to the national scale and
is recognized and respected throughout
the Muslim and activist community. He was recently invited to serve as a guest
Chaplin for the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Eddie
Bernice Johnson. Suleiman has focused his energy on a number of significant
issues including accessibility, disability, Black Lives Matter,
the refugee crisis, the Muslim ban, and the detained children and families at the borders. He is the founder
and president of the Yaqeen Institute
for Islamic Research a think tank focused on instilling a sense
of pride and conviction in Muslims
in an era where many are insecure
or ashamed and or are questioning due
to Islamophobia. He is also a professor
of Islamic studies at Southern Methodist
University. And as I understand it in just a few months he will complete his
doctoral work and will be adding
doctor to you title? Congratulations on that. [ Applause ]>>So, Imam Suleiman thank you
for your acceptance from the Muslim
Students Association invitation to speak
to our community. We look forward to your insight and
your openness. Everyone please
join me in giving a warm welcome to
Imam Omar Suleiman. [ Applause ] [ Background
Noise ]>>Alright. See if I can figure
out how to get to the PowerPoint.
There we go. I think I moved something. Assalamualaikum. Peace
be with you all. Bismillah al-rahman
al-rahim. In the name of God the most compassionate,
the most merciful. [ Background Noise ]>>I shouldn’t
have done that. Okay. While we’re waiting on that I just want to thank Dr. Helaire for
the introduction. Thank the all of the associations
and organizations and departments that
were involved in putting this
together. I am deep. [ Laughter ] [
Applause ]>>Alright. I might need you to
stand right there. [ Laughter ] [
Background Noise ] [ Laughter ] [
Background Noise ]>>See if that works. Yeah. [ Background
noise ]>>Alright. Great. [ Background Noise ] [ Inaudible ]>>Alright. [ Applause ]>>Alright
let’s try this again. Assalamualaikum.>>Okay. Peace be with you
all once again. I want to thank
the volunteers and all of the different
departments and everyone that
came together to put this even together. This is not an easy
thing to coordinate. And from probably anything I’ve ever done
I’ve never seen anything as seamlessly coordinated
as this event. So, I want to thank once again the organizers, the volunteers for
putting this together. I want to thank my
distinguished panelists who I’m looking
forward to being with. A friend and someone
that I admire Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer and Dr. Steven Ward who
I had the chance to just spend a few
minutes with backstage. But I am sure we will be friends after this event. I hope. Unless he takes great exception
to something I say in the presentation. But I’m really looking forward to the
opportunity to actually exchange ideas and to talk about what this
means for us today. So, let me start
off by saying a few things. A
few disclaimers. Number one, I am not the most qualified person
to talk about this. In fact, both of my
co-panelists could do a much better job probably giving this presentation. So, I openly invite both of my distinguished
panelists to challenge anything
within the presentation and to provoke a discussion about where we go forward. I also teach a course – a graduate level course on Islam and the civil
rights movement. And anyone who tries – who knows what
it’s like to condense hours and hours of presentation into
a few minutes knows how difficult
this can be. So, I’m going to do
my best to try to condense as much
as possible into this presentation and
still do it justice. With my main goal being to provoke a discussion and to challenge all of us. I’m not so much looking to talk about the legacies of these two great men. Both of whom I’m
unworthy to represent. But more so to challenge ourselves with
their legacies. And what their legacies
mean for us today. I had the opportunity
again to come here last year and to
talk about the, the life of Malcolm X of El Hajj Malik El Shabazz
rahimahullah, Hajj. Just the last
year or so just focusing on those last
10 months of his life. And one of the
main objectives of that was to
actually debunk the idea that Hajj was a lightbulb moment and
that there isn’t a complex story to
Malcolm and that his entire life’s journey is not important to that last year
in particular. And it was one of the
most difficult things that I’ve ever had to do to teach it here
in Detroit. The home of Detroit
Red and to teach in the presence of
distinguished members from Masjid Wali Muhammad. May Allah bless them for their legacy and their history n this community. And it was an honor
to have the members form the Masjid Malcolm’s
home community. And a Masjid that means so much to the history of Islam in America that
were their present. Of course, Imam Twhidi, may Allah bless
him, who came at the end of that and spoke. Malcolm flew to Detroit. Some of you might
not know this. Flew to Detroit and spoke literally four hours after his home
was firebombed, a week before his
assassination. Because Malcolm
did not take a break from his,
from his work. And he felt like
his time was short. And of course, it’s
important for us to remember that whether we’re talking about
Martin or Medgar or Malcolm all of them
died in their 30s. And so, we have so much
to gain from them. And so much to extend from the incredible
things that they did. So, I want to start off with this image
that you see up here actually
correlates with a quote. Of course, Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. went to India. Many people
don’t know that. Actually, studied
Gandhi and philosophy and tried
to inculcate that into his nonviolent
strategy here in The United
States of America. And Malcolm’s – Malcolm and Martins political
philosophies were not necessarily drawn from their religious
teachings. They were not in conflict with their religious
teaching as they saw, as they saw in their
understanding and their calculation. I
would argue the same. But at – but they drew their political
philosophies from people that they admired from
movements and trends that they thought spoke to the time and spoke to
their circumstances. And there’s a quote
here that I’d like to start with because it
provokes a discussion. “What is a revolution need? Does it need
Malcolm and Martin? Or does it need
Malcolm or Martin? Was one of them right and the other one wrong? Did one of them have it figure out and
the other one greatly misguided and leading the people astray?” Collin Morris who
wrote a book called Unyoung, Uncolored,
and Unpoor. Wrote, “I am not denying passive resistance
it’s due place in the freedom struggle
or belittling the contribution it of men like Gandhi and
Martin Luther King. Both have a secure
place in history. I merely want to show that however much the
disciples of passive resistance
detest violence they are politically
impotent without it. American Negros needed both Martin Luther
King and Malcolm X just as India had to have both Gandhi
and Nehru.” And I’m not going
to talk about Indian politics right now. Simply the idea that when you talk about
any freedom struggle, we usually do ourselves a disservice when we try to limit it to one person. Malcolm had a large group of people
starting with Dr. Betty Shabazz and
his family around him. Martin Luther King Jr. is Dr. Coretta Scott
King in that family. That incredible family. And the people that were
behind both of them. The movement is greater
than those two men. And at the same
time the movement needed those two men. And we often do ourselves a disservice by
trying to create the perfect hero
which I’ll get to at the end of
this discussion, that rises victorious above the rest and had the
perfect diagnosis. And the perfect
role to play. And so, this is the picture that we come to.
It’s on the flyer. This is a picture that deeply haunts
America because it’s the only time
these two men actually had the
opportunity to meet. And as they were coming
together frankly, the forces that
wanted to see black liberation fail
could not afford a Malcolm and Martin
coming together and actually working
together on a strategy, with their differences
of opinion, but complementing
one another. And moving the entirety of the civil rights
movement forward. So, this was a
picture that haunts us because of the
possibilities. It also haunted those
that wanted both of these men killed because of the possibilities. And for us it was just it was just
a – it’s just a, it’s just a few minutes that they met on
Capital Hill. And accidental meeting. And you see them
smiling together. But that is not the reality of how their lives
actually unfolded. But it is the potential of what it would
have looked like. Dr. James Cone who wrote the book Martin
and Malcolm; A Dream or a Nightmare, which is probably one of the most important books to understand their two, their two legacies
and how they, how they compliment
one another. He said, “King was a
political revolutionary. Malcolm was a cultural
revolutionary. Malcolm changed how black people thought
about themselves.” And so, if you look at what each one of
them brought. In some ways they
were unique. Dr. James Cone continues, and he said “Malcolm
tried to liberate black people from
hating themselves. Martin tried to liberate white people from
hating black people.” And again, the
tragic irony as Dr. Cone points out is
that the trigger that was pulled on
Martin was a white hand. The trigger that was
pulled on Malcolm was a black hand even
though there were many hands on that trigger. But the fact that both of them were trying
to liberate, liberate their people
or liberate a people from things that
were cancerous. Not just to them but to the entirety of society. Malcolm’s upbringing and Martin’s
upbringing is often spoken about as the
tragedy versus comfort. Meaning Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. could have chosen to live a relatively
comfortable life. He was going to be
a PhD in something. He could have lived a you know a comfortable life. Not had to involve
himself in the civil rights
movement but chose to do so anyway. And Malcolm X of
course came from a tragic background
and he could have resigned himself
to what usually would happen to someone in Malcolm’s upbringing,
but he refused. But what we don’t
talk about as well is the different political and religious influences that took place early on. And so, if you look
at the Garvey-ite influence on Malcolm X and understand
that his parents came from that background. And how that factored into Malcolm’s
political thought. And comparing the UNIA of Marcus Garvey
the Universal Negro Improvement Association to the NAACP which was more in line with Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr.’s thought. People will often
say that Malcolm was addressing an
northern civil rights movement reality. Martin was addressing a southern civil
rights reality. And of course, there’s
this quote form Dr. James – from James
Baldwin who said “That as concerns Malcom and Martin I watched two
men coming from unimaginably different background whose positions originally were
poles apart, driven closer and
closer together. By the time each
died their positions had become virtually
the same position. It can be said indeed that Martin picked up
Malcolm’s burden, articulated the
vision which Malcolm had begun to see. And for which he paid
with his life and that Malcolm was one
of the people Martin saw on the
mountain top.” I want to address the Muslims specifically
here as well. Often we critique America
for sanitizing and restricting Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. to his I Have
a Dream speech. Muslims do the same with Malcolm and Hajj
at times as well. Restricting both of them to a singular experience
and then creating a narrative out of that singular experience
without taking into consideration the
collection of experiences
before and after. And their full
development is an injustice to both
of their legacies. So we don’t freeze Malcolm
and Hajj nor do we free Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his I have
A Dream speech. And if you’re going
to talk about both of these men one of their most incredible
accomplishments is their ability to challenge themselves,
to grow. Growth. They were not fixed in all of their positions. They were willing
to be challenged and to challenge
themselves. And so, when you
read a quote from Malcolm for
example who says, “That I want to
be remembered as someone who was sincere. Even if I made mistakes, they were made
in sincerity. If I was wrong, I was
wrong in sincerity.” He also said, “There’s no better than adversity, every defeat
every heartbreak, every loss contains
it’s own seed. Its own lesson on how to improve your
performance next time. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that
ever happened to us is an ingredient.” He also said, “That
children have a lesson all adults
should learn. To not be ashamed
of falling but how to get up
and try again. “. Malcom was not ashamed of being confronted by the truth.
He welcomed it. And the same is true
for Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm did not insist on positions that he did not find to be
sincerely the truth. Martin did not insist on a comfortable
position for himself. And accept being the hero, the figure that was acceptable enough to make America comfortable, while Malcolm would be thrown under the
bus and murdered. Each one of them
confronted themselves. And allowed for themselves
to be confronted. One of the things
that’s often positive is that Malcolm is the violent counterparts to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If you hear about
Malcolm in school, if you’re even
taught about him, you’re taught that
he’s militant, that he’s violent,
that he’s angry. That he was ineffective. And you would think that Malcolm organized
the gang and walked around the
streets of Harlem and took things by force. The problem with
that narrative other then it being just
a completely false. Is that it takes away Malcolm’s points
for actually not committing to nonviolence out
of principle. Why didn’t
Malcolm commit to nonviolence if Malcolm was not
violent himself? Malcolm said, “I
don’t favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful
means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives
peacefully. But I’m also a realist. And the only people in
this country who are asked to be non-violent
are black people.” And so, Malcolm’s
points was the point that
Jessie Williams made that if you don’t have an established
critique of the oppression
you don’t get to critique the resistance. It’s not fair to burden an oppressed
people a people that are being targeted
with commitments to nonviolence and those
types of things when they are the
victims of violence. Malcolm did not
favor violence. Malcolm did not
welcome violence. Malcolm found
it hypocritical to ask black people to be nonviolent
when they were the recipients of
violence in America, state sponsored
violence here in The United States
of America. And so, when you talk
about the ballot or the bullet as
one scholar said, “Malcolm used the threat of the bullet to
secure the ballot.” But Malcolm did not want vigilante violence
in the streets. He did not seek that. And Malcolm’s calling out America on its hypocrisy
was true because the only time America ever passed gun
legislation was when? When the Black
Panthers got armed. When the wrong
people had guns. That’s when America decided to act against guns. And so, this idea that Malcolm is the
violent counterpart. And Martin is the
peaceful counterpart. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. as we mentioned early on in talking about
Gandhi and Nehru. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. knew the role that Malcolm and that side of the movement
actually played. He said that, “The
nation waited until the black man
was explosive with fury before stirring itself even to partial concern. Confronted now with the
interrelated problems of war, inflation,
urban decay, white backlash
and a climate of violence it is now forced to address itself to race relations
and poverty. And it is tragically
unprepared. What might once have been a series of
separate problems, now merge into
a social crisis of almost stupefying
complexity. I am not sad that black Americans
are rebelling. This was not
only inevitable, but eminently desirable. Without this magnificent ferment amongst negros, the old evasions and procrastinations would have continued indefinitely.” And he said he said in another speech he said, “But it is not enough
for me to stand before you tonight
and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for
me to do that without at the same
time condemning the contingent
intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions
are the things that cause individuals
to feel that they have no other
alternative then to engage in violent rebellions
to get attention. And I must say that a riot is the language of the unheard and what is it America has
failed to hear?” And so, if you listen to the content the substance of those two messages, they’re not necessarily in tension with one another. The idea was
that the burden should not be placed on the African American
as they were the greatest victims of state violence here
in this country. There’s also this idea where you see the
strategies coming together of shaming
America into compliance. Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. one of my
favorite books of Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. was On the Side of My People, which is fascinating
that he wrote in his mid-20s. I’m
sorry not. I’m sorry. Stride Towards Freedom. On the Side of My People
is a different book. Stride Towards Freedom Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about the strategy. And this was of course
in the wake or in the context of the
Montgomery bus boycott. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. said that, “America would not
be activated.” There were plenty of people that were sitting at home that said that they weren’t okay with what
they were seeing. But they were
not necessarily moved to actual action. They didn’t like
it, but they would turn the TV off. And it wasn’t necessarily enough to activate them. And he said that. “People would not
move until they saw black men and
black women having their heads busted open with police clubs
in the streets.” Hence exactly what
you saw in Selma. That America had
to be moved to a point of why we can’t wait to a place of urgency. Not necessarily a
place of disgust. You could not simply say that this is not right. But you had to actually
be moved to action. And Martin understood that America had to see images. And America had to be moved to appoint
where it would be uncomfortable with
itself being at home. I can tell that I thought about this in
the Muslim ban. When the Muslim
ban was legislated there were many people that came to the airports. And they had – some of them had never met
a Muslim before and had – didn’t
maybe even have a particular good
opinion of Islam, but felt like thy couldn’t sit with themselves with such a blatant violation of our so called
religious freedom here in The United States. And our liberty here
in The United States. So, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of course it’s not an exact analogy wanted to see people
move to action. Malcolm also
understood that America did not want to be shamed on the global stag. And here’s the thing,
slavery did not end because America
suddenly came to a realization
that it was wrong. Okay? America’s
foreign policy was being complicated by the images of segregation
and the images of police brutality
that were being broadcast around the
world from here. Back in the days when we were at odds
with the Soviets, they used to put images of segregation and
police brutality as a sign of how
backwards America actually was to posit communism as a
superior way. When Malcolm goes around the world and shames
America and actually takes the strategy
of going to Africa in particular
and asking African nations
to prosecute The United States
of America on the global stage, it complicates America’s
foreign policy. Because America cannot act like it is morally
superior to the world and
then use that to justify all sorts of unprincipled
intervention. And so, you have
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of course working at the domestic
level with Selma, with what’s taking
place in the south. And you have
Malcolm actually going to Africa
and Malcolm of course by that
time after Hajj had a status in the entirety if
the Muslim world Africa and otherwise
and using that to put America on trial on
the global stage. And sitting in you know
sitting in the spot that a head of state
would sit at the OAU. At the Organization
for African Unity. Malcolm actually sat there amongst all of the heads of states and the premier’s and the presidents and the prime ministers
from African nations. And Malcolm said that, “You have to do something about The United States, because The United
States is guilty of war crimes and genocide against
African Americans, against black people
here at home.” That complicated deeply America’s
foreign policy. And there’s a book that I’d recommend everyone to read. It’s called Cold
War Civil Rights, Race and Image of
American Democracy. By Mary Dudziak. Cold War Civil
Rights where she talks about why America actually took –
why the government took steps to seemingly address segregation and
racial inequalities in this country only to the extent that it
allowed America, that it allowed The United States
of America to maintain a certain
standing globally. What does this
mean in terms of internationalizing the issue of the
black American? Well for one Malcolm was always an
internationalist. He was an internationalist
even in prison. And one of the
tragedies of Malcolm is that he was surveilled by the FBI from 1950 until the
day of his death. Because in 1950 he wrote a letter to
President Truman from his jail cell in opposition to
the Korean War. And because of that he was called a communist. He actually self-labeled
the communist at that point in
1950 to be fair. And in that climate in America was placed
under surveillance. And of course, as his profile grew
the surveillance was only going to be
expanded on Malcolm. So, he was always an
internationalist. Malcolm was widely
recognized as, as the first civil
rights leader to really home in
on the Vietnam War. And the nature of
the Vietnam War to connect colonialism
to connect what was taking place in Vietnam to what
was taking place here in The United States with the black American. This picture, this
famous picture of Malcolm at his
assassination. If you look right
behind him there is a Japanese a Japanese
woman by the name of Yuri Kochiyama who is a great civil
rights activist. And she was a Japanese civil rights activist or a human rights
activist that was seeking justice after
the nuclear bombings. After the atomic
bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki
and Hiroshima. And she was
someone who found in Malcolm a person that would uplift
her cause. Malcolm did not see that uplifting other
people’s causes diminished his own. In fact, he saw
the importance of connecting those causes. So, Malcolm would champion causes that were not
necessarily convenient. That were not necessarily
– that would give no mobility to his
specific cause. To liberate his own people. But instead he saw that was taking place at
the global stage of colonialism and
what he called European colonialism and
American dollar-ism. Malcolm saw that it was the same system that
was wreaking havoc on the world that was
wreaking havoc on the inner cities here in The United States
of America. And so that’s why
you’ll find Malcolm in 1964 going to Gaza, going to Palestine,
going to the Han Uniz refugee camp. And uplifting the
issue of Palestine. Being the first
black leader to uplift the issue
of Palestine. And he actually
penned an essay of the – about the
occupation and about the world turning
a blind eye to the injustices that were done to the
Palestinian people. And he used a profound
a profound expression. Malcolm said that, “Often what happens is that an indigenous people are taken of advantage of. They are buried by all sorts of injustice
and tyranny. And then years later
another generation comes and doesn’t
know how to distinguish what
took place and simply sees two people’s
fighting each other. And the naturally comes
to the conclusion that one people
is regressive. And the other
people is not. And doesn’t understand the origins of conflict.” And he said, “That’s essentially what
was done to the entire continent
of Africa.” That the average
American – American would look to
Africa and would see all of the coups and all the rebellions
and all the warfare. And would come to that
type of conclusion. That these are a
people that need to be to use the president’s
language tamed. And can only be
governed with brutality domestically
and globally. And here’s the
expression Malcolm used. He said, “So you clip the birds wing and then you blame it for not flying
as high as you.” So, you put people in horrible states and
then you count on the forgetful memory
or the or the way that that memory is then told or cast in the future. Malcolm said that,
“We have to elevate the struggle from a
civil rights struggle to a human rights
struggle.” And his last speech at the London School of
Economic in Europe was titled The Oppressed
Masses of the World Cry Out For
Action Against the Common Oppressor. In Malcolm’s last speech at Columbia University
he said that, African Americans
so sort of internationalizing
the struggle now. Was not just as far as, as far as you know the
Palestinians or the Vietnamese or the Japanese. No, Malcolm saw it as
much broader than that. And of course, Malcolm also had a focus on Africa. He was a pan-African. And some scholars
have even mentioned a graduation of sorts from black nationalism
to pan-Africanism particularly in
his later thought. Malcolm tasked both
African nations as well as
African Americans to connect with
one another. He said that, “African
Americans must help Africa in the struggle to free itself from
western domination, because no matter where the black man is
he will never be respected until Africa
is a world power.” I met Chadwick Bozeman
and I told him I said, “You know Malcolm
was the first one that thought about Wakanda. But he thought about
it more so on the kill monger probably in the kill monger
conception.” But you know but that idea of Africa as a
continent being strong, being restored to its
full dignity and honor. And that having
worldwide implications where you usually see anti-black racism
penetrating everywhere from north America to the middle east as well. Right? Europe and
all over the world. In Asia. So, it was important for Africa
to be restored. Malcolm also said, “African nations
need to take action against The United States
for crimes committed against the American negro in The United States.” He wrote on his – from his last trip to Africa. And Malcolm spent
the last 10 months of his life you know the majority of it was actually was
international. Malcolm said, “I
want to dismantle the entire
international system of racial exploitation.” John Lewis and Donald
Harris were sent at the time by the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee to Africa to meet Malcolm on his second trip to try to fully grasp the person that Malcolm had become. That any country he
went to in Africa he was usually addressing the parliament
at this point, a president or a
prime minister. And there was a wave that followed everywhere
that he went. Meaning he was being
– he was successful in lifting up
the condition of the black man here
in America and removing that barrier
and that isolation between black
people in America and the continent
of Africa. Dr. King of course takes
on Vietnam later on. And this is what
James Baldwin was spoken about – what spoke about with
Dr. James Cone speaks about in his book. From a political
perspective King could have rode a wave in
his last few years. And accepted a status
of one who is never too dangerous who stayed within the realm of
prescribed protest. and did not shake
the establishment. Malcolm was
assassinated in ’65. King could have
stuck to a script. He would have been
more popular. He would have retained not just popularity
in white America, but he would have
retained popularity with black America as well. By King taking on the Vietnam War he
lost a ton of support. The NAACP distanced
itself from king. And you know a
dear friend of mine Reverend Dr.
Michael Waters always reminds people in Dallas that Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. could not find a single black
church that would give him a pulpit after 1965 when he actually
came to Dallas. Where did this come
from? Moral conviction. He said, “I knew
that I could never again raise
my voice against the violence of
the oppressed in the ghettos without
having first spoken clearly to the
greatest purveyor of violence in the world
my own government.” And if you read
Kings sentiments of antiwar it started with critiquing how
much – if you look at ’66 to ’68. It started with critiquing how much money we
were spending on war as opposed to here in the inner
cities in America. Then it moved onto
something else. You start to see
King’s tone shift towards the hypocrisy
of sending black men off to their death
in Vietnam to fight for liberties
that they would not enjoy here at home. Some of the famous
lines of Mohammed Ali when he resisted the draft. Then something happens
in the latter half of ’67 into ’68. King starts talking
about it from the perspective of the
Vietcong themselves. “The babies on
the other side of those bombs.” That’s not a popular stance to take because
ultimately when you challenge America
as a patriot you still need to challenge it from the perspective of the benefit of America not what is morally principled. Not what is a, not what is a – the right
stance to take. And Dr. David Garrow
he said that, “It would be a
mistake to read Dr. King’s speech Breaking the Silence as merely an antiwar
statement. It reflected his
widening world view that chronicled domestic
poverty and military adventurism
overseas. Infected the
wealthiest nation on earth just as much as
deep rooted racism.” King said that, “If America’s poison
autopsy was to be opened one day, Vietnam would
be prominent.” We would see what was
done with Vietnam. And I want to just give you this one quote by him. He said, “A
genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis
that our loyalties must become ecumenical
rather than sectional. Every nation
must now develop and overriding
loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual
societies.” Think about what Dr. King would say if he
heard America first with all of
its implications. That this
commitment needs to be a greater commitment. Michelle Alexander
wrote an article in the New York Times this year earlier this year called It’s a Time to Break the Silence
on Palestine. Also sort of
building off of King’s philosophy
pointing to the fact that the student nonviolent coordinating committee in 1968 started to address the problem the
Palestinians as well. And started to broaden its perspective on that. Alexander said,
“King argued when speaking of
Vietnam that even when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we must not be mesmerized
by uncertainty. We must speak with
all the humility that is appropriate to
our limited vision. But we must speak.” How much time do I
have left by the way? [ Background Noise
]>>Ten minutes? Okay great. Now, with that being
said in the process of uplifting because
I’m going to check – we have
to challenge ourselves with Dr.
King and with Malcolm. In the process of uplifting other
causes and them recognizing the
international nature of this and making
these connections. We cannot dilute
their initial cause, their primary cause. And the severity of the crimes that have
been committed and continue to be committed against black
people in America. No other cause should
seek to appropriate it. Instead it should honor it. There was a popular
statement I want to say for or
five years ago. Muslim is the new black. No. Absolutely not. And less we forget that Malcolm here
in Michigan. I’m sorry it wasn’t
in this university. It was at Michigan
State University. I’ll say it really low. But January 23rd, 1963 there was an MSA
Egyptian student, not to call out
the Egyptians. Sorry. There are wonderful Egyptians
around Malcolm too. But there was
an MSA student from Egypt that
started to ague with Malcolm about his approach. About his doctrine. And Malcolm
responded and said, “Listen we are brothers. But an Egyptian who comes to America should realize the problem confronted by black people in
this country. And when you see us
being chased by a dog the best thing for
you to do is wait until the dog
stops chasing us. And then ask us
some questions, especially when you should have come a long time ago and help your little brothers whip the dog.” So, the reason why I bring that up is
because there’s this – so America freezes King in I Have a
Dream not when he said that my dream
has turned into a nightmare and started to articulate Malcolm. Sound a lot like
Malcolm ’65 to ’68. Muslims freeze Malcolm in the exact same place which Malcolm becomes
suddenly color blind. And yes, it’s true. Malcolm no longer indicted the collective –
indicted white people on an individual basis or talked about
the white devil. He did talk about
this idea of seeing people in their fulness and judging people
by their character. And you know working
together in that spirit. But Malcolm’s critique of white supremacy was only sharpened after Hajj. And a lot of those speeches that we assume
were pre Hajj. Because if you watch
the movie it’s like Malcolm went to
Hajj then he died. And that’s kind of
like how we we’re really forgetting
those last 10 months of the formation of two organizations
The Muslim Mosque Incorporated
and the OAAU, the Organization
of Afro American Unity and what that meant. And Malcolm showing direction with his thought. Articulating a political and religious philosophy that are not in tension
with one another. And that do mean
something for us. And that do need
to challenge us. So, what is Malcolm’s roll with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in that last year? When you start to see these two people
coming together. And what does
it mean for us? The expression
of solidarity in a meaningful way
is important. Malcolm did not simply stop some of the things that he said about King. Malcolm sent a letter, a telegram to MLK which you see up here on the screen. June 30th. He says, “We have
been witnessing with great concern the
vicious attacks of the white races against our poor defenseless people there in St. Augustine. The federal government – if the federal
government will not send troops to your aid just say the
word and we will immediately
dispatch some of our brothers
there to organize self defense units
amongst our people. And the Ku Klux Klan
will then receive a taste to it’s
won medicine.” That sounds great when it’s private
solidarity right? Except Malcolm
sent a telegram to George Lincoln Rockwell on the exact same
day that said. “This is to warn
you that that I’m no longer held
in check from fighting white
supremacist by Hlajia Mohammad separatists black Muslim movement. And that if you’re
present racist agitation against
or people there in Alabama causes
physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans
who are only attempting to enjoy their rights
as free human beings. That you and your Ku Klux Klan
friends will be met with – will be met with maximum physical
retaliation from those of
us who are not handcuffed by the disarming philosophy
of nonviolence. And who believe in asserting our right of self defrense….by any
means necessary.” Malcolm sends that to George Lincoln Rockwell in defense of Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Can you
imagine what this did to Hoover’s FBI? Can you imagine how frightening it is to
see that level of solidarity being expressed between these two people who were supposed to be at war with one another? Malcolm deliberately
supposed to be – deliberately his
messaging supposed to be delegitimizing
King so that he’s not taken
seriously by his people while Malcolm
is portrayed as an extremist that has no role in the movement. And now you see this expression of solidarity despite
difference. And meaningful solidarity
despite difference. As we know Malcolm
went to Selma. And if you watch
the movie it’s not very – you know don’t take your history
from movies. That’s all I’m going
to say, alright. So, what actually happens when Malcolm went to Selma. Malcolm said, “Let me be the scary alternative
to Dr. King. So that Dr. King’s
goals can be achieved. They fear me more than you. And if they see
me coming around, then they’re
going to be more willing to accept
your demands. Because they
don’t want to see Malcolm’s flavor bleeding
into the south.” And so, here’s
what happens. Malcolm was always
– if you watch Malcolm’s interviews
in Selma. They’re brilliant. Because he’s
always ambiguous. And he’s intentionally
ambiguous. He says, “I suggest
you give Dr. King what he’s asking for
or else some of us are going to try to
do it another way.” But he never said
what another way was. And he also made it a point – and by the
way you know the – there – you know some have actually put out
the idea that maybe the reason
why that Malcolm was not harmed
when he went to Alabama going into Klan country was
because there this idea that Malcolm had a force that was
traveling with him. And if anyone
put their hands on him then they
would be in trouble. So, Malcolm went down to Selma to express
solidarity. And this is a picture of Malcolm sitting next to Coretta Scott King and she says describing
this moment, “He leaned over
and said to me Mrs. King I want
you to tell your husband that I
had to planned to visit him in jail
here in Selma. But I won’t be
able to do it now. I have to go back to
New York because I have to attend a
conference in Europe. An African student
conference. And I want to you to say to him that I
didn’t come to Selma to make his
job more difficult. But that I thought that if white people
understood what the alternative was
that they would be more inclined to listen
to your husband. And so that’s why I came.” Coretta Schott King says, “And of course
I thanked him. And I was naturally
somewhat surprised because I didn’t expect
him to say that. I don’t know what I
expected but he had such a gentle manner and he seemed very sincere. And I kept thinking
about what he had said. And the way that
he said it. And of course, within
a couple of weeks or more he was
assassinated. And it affected me very deeply because I
had met him now. And I felt like it was
such a tragic loss. For days I had this pain almost like this
feeling in my chest, a feeling of depression. And just feeling
as if I had lost someone
very dear to me. And I couldn’t
quite understand. But then I began to realize I guess what an impact he had made on me in
that very short period of time in knowing him.” So, this is a special
moment that we have. And I want to
take it now to the legacy as we go into our discussion
and what this means. If you open up a textbook. And I don’t expect you
to read all this text. Martin is made into
the perfect hero. Malcolm the
perfect villain. The goal of this is that every illegitimate form of engagement is legitimized
through King. And every legitimate
form of resistance is delegitimized
through Malcolm. And so, if you can
create the hero and create the
villain the one that should be – should
not even be considered in
the first place, then you can more readily appropriate Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. And they
struggled to not become reduced to symbols even in
their own lifetimes. One of Malcolm’s quotes after Selma in
fact he said, “Of the Muslims
I’m too worldly. For other groups
I’m too religious. For militants I’m
too moderate. And for moderates
I’m too militant. I feel like I’m
on a tightrope.” So, Malcolm understood what was happening
with him also. And here’s what
I want us to do. You know if you
go to YouTube and you search – there was this experiment
that was done I think I was in Denmark where they took a
copy of the bible and they put a cover of
the Koran on it. And they walked through
the streets and they read certain
versus about violence and women
and things of that sort to just average people
in the streets. And said, “Can you
believe Koran says this?” And people were
just outraged. And then they took off
the cover and said, “Actually this
is the bible. Are you a Christian?” And so, it was, it was quite
telling alright. What, what can be done when you take things
out of context. But sometimes I think
to myself it would be really – it would be fascinating if you took a quote – a book of
quotes of Malcolm X covered it with Dr.
King or vice versa. So, I’ll give
you two quotes. Malcolm said, “Ignorance
of each other is what has made unity impossible in the past. Therefore, we need more light
about each other. Light creates
understanding. Understanding creates love. Love creates patience. And patience creates unity. Once we have more knowledge about each other
we will stop condemning each other
and a united front will be bought about.” Sounds very Kingish right? Dr. King says, “The majority of white
Americans consider themselves sincerely
committed to justice for the negro. They believe that
American society is essentially hospitable
to fair play and to study growth toward a middle-class utopia, embodying racial harmony. But unfortunately,
this is a fantasy of self-deception and
comfortable vanity.” Sounds very Malcolm-ish. Malcolm is looked
at the symbol of disengagement with anything
political in America. But one of the
things that Malcolm was to reveal on the day of his assassination
was the platform the OOAU which would include a voting platform as well. So, you could look
at it in two ways. Malcolm said, “The
Organization of Afro American Unity
will organize the afro American
community block by block to make the community aware of it’s power
and it’s potential. We will start immediately a voter registration
drive to make every unregistered voter in the afro American community an independent voter. We won’t organize
any black man to be a democrat or a republican because both of them
have sold us out.” So, you could take that, and you could say well Malcolm was talking about a different
democratic party. Or you could say Malcolm is not you know Malcolm would have
rejected any type of voter engagement. Or you could look to
Malcolm the core of what Malcolm was
saying which was this idea that
when you organize, organize n a principled way and do not
be uncritically loyal to any politician or any party that only shows up when they
want your vote to get them over the hump. So, you could take
something from that. Every year on Martin
Luther King’s – on the anniversary
of his birthday the NRA tweets a picture of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. Does anyone know what they put in that picture? Every single year. In 1956 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. applied
for a gun permit. Which is true. What they don’t put in there is
that he was denied. So, every year
they tweet it out. And so, you could take
from that you know this complete rejection of you know was it violence?
Was it nonviolence? Or did he at some – or did he consider
this idea again of wanting a gun
in the face of so many assassination
attempts and threats for himself? Both of these men had a religious organization and a political
organization. And this is something that I also want
to caution. Will bring it up
in the discussion. Sometimes there’s a
hostility to religion and you know there’s
obviously a type of religion that I think we should all be hostile to. But there’s a hostility
to religion that’s found in spaces which
is unnecessary. If we’re going
to be true to both of their
legacies you can’t remove the you know you can’t remove the
Baptist minister, the Baptist preacher
from Dr. King. You can’t remove the
Muslim from Malcolm. Muslim mosque was just as important to
Malcolm as OAEU. In fact, he formed
it immediately out of the nation of Islam. And the SCLC was
just as important to Dr. King as the student non-violent
coordinating committee. So, it’s important
to do so. These are pictures that I want you to look at. This is a picture I
took of the spot of Malcolm’s assassination in the Shabazz Center
formerly the Autobahn. If you go there, you’ll see the
difference between it and the Lorraine Motel the spot of the
assassination of Dr. King. Malcolm said,
“When I am dead, I say it that way because from the things
I know I do not expect to live
long enough to read this book in
it’s finished form. I want you to just watch and see if I’m
not right when I say that the white man and his press is going to
identify me with hate. I know that societies
often have killed people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having
brought any light, having exposed any
meaningful truth that will help destroy the
malignant cancer – the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America then all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes
have been mine. Malcolm fully
understood that he was going to
be vilified. That he was going to be intentionally
omitted from books. But he keeps coming back. He keeps coming back. His autobiography
keeps coming back. Malcolm in all forms of resistance
keeps coming back. Malcolm as a symbol
keeps coming back. And so, there is a failure to
completely omit him. But you can see the difference
between his grave. If you go to
LaGuardia and you take a 30-minute
drive out to Ferncliff Cemetery
you’ll barely be able to find Malcolm
and Betty’s grave. It’s actually one
tombstone there. Whereas you see
the appropriation of Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. He is celebrated. But we have to
ask ourselves, is he being celebrated
as Dr. King? Or what of Dr. King is convenient to America in changing both it’s
past and it’s present? And so, we come back to the statement
of Medgar Evers. “You can kill a man
but not an idea.” And I wanted to
end with this. The unfinished business of the civil rights movement. A lot of it is economic. This is actually
from the – one of, one of two intersections. Martin Luther King
Jr. intersections and Malcolm intersections
in the country. It’s in Dallas
where I live. In south Dallas. One of the worst
areas in the country. Dallas ranks last in the country in
racialized poverty. It is a segregated as anywhere else
in the country. And it is an insult that you would have a mural that says believe. And you have all sorts of, all sorts of horrors and terrors that
continue to reign on people there in south Dallas and
around the country. And I want you to
realize that it’s 2019 and Botham Jean was
shot in his apartment. A young black man was
shot in his apartment complex sitting
on his couch. In an upscale condo. Sitting on his couch watching Thursday
night football, when officer Amber
Geiger walked in and shot him twice in
his own living room. And his home was searched
to find anything to incriminate him
while she had days upon days to wipe
out her history. And then to be taken in for a photo – basically
a photo op. A 20-minute experience
of a mug shot. And just yesterday
Dallas tried to vacate, or they tried to move her trial somewhere
else over a year later. And this is now 2019. Jordan Edwards is now. A lot of the
things that are taking place are now. So, we have to take to
ourselves how would Malcolm and Martin’s
legacies have lived out today in regards to the continued racialized poverty that takes place, mass incarceration,
police brutality. And again, connecting to the inconvenient struggles seen that we are enriched when we see the
connection of those struggles as opposed to viewing them
in isolation. I look forward to
the discussion with my distinguished
panelists. Thank you all very
much [inaudible]. [ Applause ]>>Well Iman Suleiman. Thank you very
much for that. I took away several notes. But I would like to just
reiterate this one. Do not get your
history from movies. Very important.
Every year at the annual Reverend
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. symposium
has a theme. The theme this year is the miseducation of us. Us in capital letters and having the double entendre, double meaning of
The United States and us as individuals. And so, I think
it fitting that today this first event
gets us to think about the ways
in which we have not been fully
educated about the two of the
greatest heroes in this nation in this country and
in this world. So, I really appreciate Imam Suleiman for
what he has brought. Please give him another hand for
that lecture. [ Applause ]>>Now before I bring
the speakers up, I would like to introduce our esteemed faculty. Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer is a scholar activist, scholar artist
activist who’s work examines the
intersections of race, religion and
popular culture. She is the author
Muslim Cool Race, Religion and Hip Hop
in The United States. She has a deep
commitment to public scholarship
and reaches diverse audience through her one-woman
solo performance Sampled: Beats
of Muslim Life. And her leadership
of Sapelo an online resource
on black Muslims in The United States. Dr. Ward is associate
professor in the department of afro American and
African studies. And the social theory and practice program in the
residential college. He was the founding
coordinator of the urban
studies minor and serves as the
faculty director of the semester in
Detroit program. He teaches courses in African American history urban and community studies and Detroit history. He is the author of
Love and Struggle. He’s the author of In
Love and Struggle; the Revolutionary
Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs
and the editor of Pages From a Black
Radicals Notebook, a James Boggs Reader. He is a board member of the James and
Grace Lee Boggs Center to nurture community leadership in Detroit. It is a critical part of my duty to make the
audience aware that Dr.’s Khabeer and
Ward did not merely accept an invitation
to speak today. But they were very engaged in the planning
process and ensuring that the event included dialog and diverse
perspectives. The true measure of
scholarship is not only in the works
you produce but also in how
you choose to engage the world in
sharing that work. So, what we have
here this evening are three individuals
who have been very thoughtful in how to
engage one another and the audience
in a way that seeks the impact us all. So please put our hands together as our
speakers come up. [ Applause ] [ Background
Noise ]>>What?>>So, what I will ask these – the – Dr. Khabeer and
Dr. Ward to do is if you could open up with your reflections
and thoughts from the talk and or also the – what you would like to see come
out of this dialog. And I believe that we have tasked Dr. Ward with the responsibility of keeping the
conversation flowing. But I’m pretty
sure that will not be difficult
with the panel. And I will be back up
in about 30 minutes. So, if you see
me walk up on this stage you know
what time it is. Alright. Thank
you.>>Alright. Alright. Alright.
[ Applause ]>>Hello
everyone.>>Hello.>>Hello.>>
Let’s thank Lumas again for guiding
us please. [ Applause ]>>And let’s thank Omar for setting us in flight. [ Applause ]>>So, each of us will say a few words or thoughts or reflection
on the presentation. And also, the
second part of what Lumas said equally important not more
important our vision, the direction for
this conversation which includes our dialog and the question
and answer. So, the first
thing I’d like to say I start where
you started. Which is toward
the beginning of your presentation you said you invite a challenge. And I think you were
saying it in the vein if something you say someone, one of us perhaps has a disagreement
with or so forth. And I don’t – so
I’m starting there. But I’m not dealing –
not that part about it. Just with the information gave, the respect that you gave, the analogy you
gave was wonderful in many different ways and we’ll get into that. But I’m emphasize – what I would like
to emphasize is that willingness
to be challenged. And in fact, I think
one of the most things is powerful – one
of the things most powerful about Malcolm and Martin in different but mutually
reinforcing ways is how they constantly
were challenged. And how they
challenged themselves and how they
challenged others. So, and you gave
us some sense of that in some of
the examples. But and so, forecasting where I
think we should go I think that also is something that
we all can take from studying and
learning about Malcolm and Martin is the ways in which
they challenged. We know they challenged
the status quo. They challenged racism. Thy challenged the country. But they challenged
themselves. They challenged
their communities. And they offer so much. In the way that
you presented them I think really helps
us to see that. So. That’s my – yeah
for now.>>Yes. I’m sorry. I was a
little bit late coming. I teach a class and I
forgot about that so. But I did catch I think a good chunk of
the presentation. And I think the thing that I wanted to
– my reflection. One of the first
things that came to me was thinking
about Malcolm. Because several times
in the talk you talked about he was the first to do x, y, or z. And I think
what’s important, it’s always important
to think about these people coming out of communities, right? And specifically,
I was thinking about his parents, right? Earl and Louise Little. And I don’t know if you mentioned them
or not tonight. So, I don’t know
if I did that. But I was just thinking about – and their
relationship to The United Negro
Improvement Association and being organizers and
leaders in that group. And so, this idea
of you know where does this idea of
his commitment right to black people and to black liberation. And this notion
of international sense of that, right. Because Garveyism and the movement you
and I hate right it comes from
international trans nationalist black
pan-African perspective. And also building on other right sort
of scholars and activists male and female right that came before him, that were along side him that I think are also important to sort
of understand who he was and his
impact, right? And I think that often times one of
the things that happens is we think about these people as
individuals. And they become
these like you know almost
untouchable, right? And when they become
untouchable then we also fail to see our
own capacity, right to sort of make change and to really have an impact both sort
of whether it’s kind of on the everyday level or the extraordinary level. So, that was one
of the things that came to my mind. And I’ll just say
one other thing too was about the
internationalism that you spoke to, too. And I wrote down
on my note. I was like okay, so I said internationalism, right? A connection without
anti blackness. And I – for me I
was thinking about you know I think people, and I’m speaking
specifically sort of in Muslim community
context but also I think in broader black
indigenous communities of color when this idea of you know let’s think about what’s the connection
between you know what’s happening in Detroit to what’s happening
in Palestine. You know let’s think
about those connections. I think black
communities have a history of
thinking that way. I think black
communities have a history of demonstrating solidarity with other communities
and other efforts. I think the reciprocity
can often be lacking. And I think that, and I think that happens
in a number of ways. So, it can happen in ways around direct organizing. But it also can
happen in ways around you know how we imagine or understand
who people are. And who should be where at what time and what
place, right? And so, I think there’re
some levels to that. But that was another thing that came to my mind. So, how do we in thinking about moving
forward right how do we encourage and
live out this sort of internationalist
transnational sort of really this notion that white supremacy is
a global order, right that white and non-white people
are suffering from. And so, we want
to do something about that without right perpetuating either
anti blackness in the form devaluating black people or sort of using us as props, right? And as images to sort
of push forth something else that’s really not sort of undoing what we’re
trying to undo. So.>>Do you want to say
anything [inaudible].>>No, I’m interested in hearing
from both of you.>>Well it – okay. Well
it’s to be a dialog. So, I’m going to
make a statement and then it’s going to veer
into a question to you if I may?>>Sure.>>And it’s about sources in a few
different ways. So, you began – part
of what you said the purpose here
to debunking some myths, right? The myth of Malcolm being frozen in the Hajj
at that moment. Parallel to how you say Muslims have done
that parallel way – parallel to way many have frozen King with I
Have A Dream speech. So, called I Have
a Dream speech because my view is that, that speech could have
a few other names. Listen to it and listen
to the refrains of other language other
titles it could go by. And so, that’s in and of itself
not important. But I think it
speaks to the more important point
that there are parts of that speech which are why
he gets frozen, which to make him more tenable and
less threatening. And as you were saying to cut – foreclose or cut off the ideas
the movements, the struggles that he was thinking and doing
in those five years, the rest of his
life, after ’63. So, and I’m also thinking about a couple times
you referenced the movie Spike Lee’s film on Malcolm X, right? So, I would like to
double cosign or cosign Lumas’ cosign of your statement of don’t get your history
from movies. Documentaries are
different. But movies. Now Spike Lee’s
film did play an important role in
the early ’90s of helping to bring
attention to Malcolm. Ut as history it is
flawed in many ways. So, I’m agree with you. So, that’s – so what
I mean by sources. Okay well that’s
one dimension. Another dimension
what you just referenced this thing about the sources of
Malcolm and Martin. Your presentation
also debunks the idea that
they – and you’re calling for us to actively reject that they are
these individual. We need these
perfect heroes. And these two are these individuals
who stand alone. So, what are the sources of their commitments of their ideas and the
other struggles? You were just
referencing family, community and
the movements. I mean.>>Yeah.>>They both helped make
social movements. But in some equal measure the movements
help make them. And that’s not to offer
one above the other. But that’s a way to
understand how change happens and how change
agents become such. So, I’m thinking about
what are the sources of them so forth. And I’m sorry. I didn’t finish
the thought about the movie and other things. What are the sources which you helped
critically engage, what are the sources
by which we do learn about or not learn about
these two figures? And we could say
so many others. You reference a few. The movie. School, what we get or don’t
get in school. So, ask yourselves
if we had, what we have then mislead. Should I do it. Run amuck. He reasons the
ways in which we have learned
or not learned or mis taught about
Malcolm and Martin. Let’s interrogate
what those are. Those will be my sources. And on the other
side of that is what sources
do we go to, to learn, to relearn, to reengage and to
learn more deeply? So, all this is driving to the question of I’d
like to ask you if you could
talk to us a bit about the sources that
you have drawn from either for your
presentation here or even a deeper sense the sources
you’ve drawn from leading on your path
to learning about and now teaching about
these tow figures and the ideas and struggles that they represent for us? And then what they
can teach us.>>So, I’ll speak to you know a few
of those things. One of htm honestly,
I didn’t want to speak to
quickly on, but. So, we talked about the UNIA and we talked about Garveyite influence
on Malcolm and sort of that shaping him. And the back to
Africa movement. And how he understood
that in his lifetime. One of the things
by the way about the movie the Spike
Lee movie was a little better in terms of accuracy because
it was based off of Ballwin’s screenplay
of Malcolm’s life. So, it was better. It wasn’t perfect.
Still don’t take your history from movies. Something else really
interesting at the end when Mandela said the – when he read those last few words at
the end of the movie, he didn’t say
the by any means necessary part
because it was considered too
politically volatile for him to say that in 1993. So, they cut it
off – cut back to Malcolm because
he didn’t want to say it at that point the by any means necessary. So, they cut it out at that point back to Malcolm. I think that – I’ll speak to – I’ll just say a little bit from my perspective
on these thing. I think it’s important to if you’re going
to learn about a figure to first and foremost think about
the living history that interacted with them. So, you know, you
know if you’re talking about Malcom and Martin there are people
that were living that were around them that
could speak of them. You know so whether
you’re talking about literally children in
the case of Malcolm you know and Ambassador
Attalla Shabazz who’s done a great job really extrapolating and
debunking I think the idea that his life was linear as she calls it. That it wasn’t a
collection of experiences. So, that wasn’t 1964 lightbulb moment
and that’s it. You know she does an incredible job of
debunking that. I think it’s important
to listen to family. It’s important to listen to the close friends. It’s important to listen
to the confidants. For the MLK 50 I
you know I took my family on civil
rights pilgrimage. At that time my
daughter was eight and my son was five. And we went on a bus
literally with a bunch, with a bunch of
people from Dallas and drove across – got to Memphis for the MLK 50, for the moment 50 from
his assassination. Stood in Medgar
Evers carport, in the blood-stained
carport of Medgar Evers. Where Emmett Till was drowned in the
Mississippi delta. Went through Selma.
Went through Birmingham. Went
through Montgomery. But one of the
things that I found most meaningful was
actually talking to people that were Martin Luther King
Jr. neighbors. Like I mean when you walk into
people’s houses, you saw pictures of him
on the refrigerator. You know pictures of him just being in the house. Like my kids sitting in the secret room where the freedom riders
used to sit. You know that’s – it’s literally because
someone knew someone. These weren’t
necessarily museums. So, I would encourage
people to listen to firsthand accounts
and experiences where those are online. I’m sure Dr. Su’ad could
talk about the after Malcolm project and some of your work on that in
particular with Malcolm. And I think that
obviously reading their own words. Reading
their own works. Taking the time
to actually read, read them to the
point of their death. To not freeze them
even in regards to stopping yourself
at reading to a particular point. And you know with Malcolm the autobiography has been so transformative, but it doesn’t
stop there, right? There was this diary
that he intended to publish after his
autobiography that started with his trip overseas for the Hajj.
But you’re in Detroit. You can go to Masjid
Wali Muhammad that I was talking
about earlier. I mean that history
is so alive here. And it’s important
[inaudible] to interact with that history as much as possible. The other thing I
want to just mention to what Dr. Su’ad
mentioned about. It hasn’t been
reciprocated. I agree with you entirely. And I think that one of the things that
we have to challenge communities with is that you don’t just latch onto a cause because
you think it will give your cause mobility. That is the peak
of hypocrisy. It’s a double standard.
It’s not acceptable. And one of the ways that I remember that
conversation peaked in the Muslim
community was when Stephan Clark
was murdered. And you know I saw
Stephan’s body. I went to that funeral. I interacted with that. And you know there was a -this sudden attention that a lot of people had when they found
out he was Muslim. Like oh wait we have to pay attention because
Stephan was Muslim. And so, I think it’s important
for us to understand, to take the time. I mean just watch a few
documentaries, right? You watch – you said
documentaries are okay. You know you watch I
Am Not Your Negro.>>Not all of them.>>Or you want 13.>>Not all of
them.>>Yes, not all of them right.
Some of them. But take some time
to understand how mass
incarceration works. How the – what
structural racism actually looks like
to understand it. And then, then you know you’ll realize I
think a lot of people, a lot of Muslims in
particular that come from – that do come from immigrant
backgrounds. Again, it’s they clipped the birds wing and you know you don’t understand this disparity took place. You don’t get the history. You don’t understand
racialized poverty. You don’t understand
police brutality. And then you
start to realize, wait a minute this is all deeply connected to
the experiences. Though it’s not
analogous it’s deeply connected to
that experience. And I can tell you
that personally I think it’s connecting
with a human level. No person shook me more than in terms of police brutality cases
then Jordan Edwards. I thought Jordan
Edwards would be America’s Emmett Till
moment because of the circumstances
of his murder were so gross. But I mean then again, we’re dealing with
Botham Jean now. But you have the
15-year-old kid. They said he was a
straight a student. He had the perfect grades. He was the perfect kid. Loved. He didn’t have any alcohol in his
body in the autopsy. He was just playing
PlayStation. Came from a loving
family. Debunks all that. They tried to use that
if to say that if he was a pot head and you know had a 2.0 then his death could be a little bit
more tolerable. But the reason why Jordan Edwards death resonated so much with me, because I got to
know his father. And so, I started seeing
my kid in Jordan. And I started seeing myself in Jordan’s father. So, listen to people. Talk to people.
Listen to people. So, interact with history
and interact with the present by listening
to people. Sitting down and
actually listening to people and trying to connect at that
human level. [ Background Noise ]>>
What would any of us – one of the things
you referenced was appropriation. And Dr. King in particular how he’s ben appropriated. Is there anything any
of us would want to say now to build on that about how we could think
about – of course, we want to recognize and challenge appropriation, misappropriation of
their legacy as others. And also, how that can turn us towards
thinking about how we can actually use
their legacies to understand, engage and transform
our own world?>>I’ll say something. Something else
that you mentioned during I guess
toward the end of your lecture where you were talking about
the telegrams, right that Malcolm
sent to Dr. King. And he also sent
to the KKK and the conversation he had with Coretta Scott King. And it made me think
there’s this – I found this it’s like a article
on this website. It’s called indigenous
action dot org. And they – and
it’s called – it’s about his accomplices. It was like accomplices
and not allies. That’s not the exact title. But it makes its argument these indigenous
activists make this argument that we
don’t need allies. We need accomplices, right? And this idea that –
and that really struck like it really resonated me thinking about moving forward and what to do in the question
of solidarity. Is because an accomplice right is like you –
you’re – it’s like you’re doing a crime together right like you’re in it together right? You’re both like if you get caught like you know we’re both – right,
right, right. We’re both you
know catch a case. Like we’re doing
that together right? And this idea and there’s this sort
of certain level of like risk involved. A certain level of
intimacy involved. A certain level of
understanding involved and being that as opposed
to sort of an ally. And so that and the example you gave right reminded me
of that right. Because as you mentioned you said the idea is
that not only was he sending a letter of support to Dr. King but he also directly confronts the people who are right, the people who are going to hurt Dr. King, right? So, it doesn’t you know so that – you know so it
doesn’t stop there. And so, I think you know because I think
you’re right, right? When even I mentioned
reciprocity. The thing about
black folks is that we still do it
anyway right so, they’ve been
playing us forever. But we’re still like I
mean – now seriously. Like I mean I was
at Palestine, Bosnia whatever it
is right growing up. And I still go right?
You know what I mean? Even thought the
guy who will like the Yemeni
dude who owned the Bodega on the corner
where I grew up you know was sling crack to my neighborhood right. But you know we – but I still care right. And
we still know right. Because that’s
just one guy. And he’s also implicated in a whole bunch of
structures as well right? Like he – you want him to make better choices right. But he also
right is dealing with sort of what white supremacy Euro-American
imperialism looks like in Yemen and in Brooklyn where
he’s at right. So, he’s also
navigating that. So, you recognize
that right? So, we’re going
to do it anyway. But this question of
like accomplices right. And how do we get to
that level, right? How do we get to a level
where we’re really in this sort of
together, right? And I think – and there’s a lot of talk too about things being
incommensurable and there’s certain
things that can’t be. But I don’t know I think
there’s a way we can kind of try to figure out how to do that right. Like thinking about indigenous group
and like what is our relationship right to right indigenous
communities, settler colonialism.
All that kind of stuff. Like you know what, what is our relationships
to those things? And how can we be
better engaged? And related to that
was just a question also on organizing as well. And I lost my thoughts. So, I’m going
to pause here.>>Well may I pick
up with.>>Yeah.>>That and add something
to go along with the idea of accomplice? I want to invoke my comrade and friend Tawana
Honeycomb Petty. Her name is Tawana Petty. And she’s an activist
and poet and she performed under
the name Honeycomb. Detroit based activist who actually will be doing, be doing a workshop on campus in a couple weeks. She’s doing one in
Detroit on Monday which [inaudible] CAST
Community Action Social Change minor and the school social work will be participating in. And he has developed
the concept of co-liberation as to move through and beyond allyship
or allyhood. And her idea is that
for white people who want to recognize
their place in our society, recognized
by privilege. But her point is that
rather than ty to help black people or the
people of color that recognize that you too have been dehumanized by racism. You too have been
dehumanized. Not in the same way. Not to the same
magnitude or extent. But that your own
humanity is corrupted. And so, that acting
against racism, against a broader
structure of oppression that you can see yourself
as co-liberator. And it’s not to make all people – recognizing that they’re
not equal society, but that rather
than this ally where again you don’t have – you just offering
something. But seeing yourself
as co-liberator that you have been corrupted and you have some work to do
to overcome that. So, I offer her and her concept to go
along with that.>>You got your
[inaudible]?>>Yes.>>So, there’s like a refrain. Organize, organize,
organize, right? And so that also thought about too this
idea that it’s you know – like recently there was this
article that came out where there was a person who was saying that
they participated in some government
programs. And people didn’t
agree with them. And they were
like but I told those people you
know we got to be inside and outside, right. People say that all
the time. And I was, and I’ve heard this
before a number of times. And I was listening to it. And I was like what is really bothering
me about this? And I was like you
ain’t organized. So, it’s not like
people you on the inside and you organize people
on the outside. You’re working
together right? So usually that’s like
I’m doing my thing. You’re doing your
thing right. And somehow right
we’re going to, we’re going to reach the
promise land, right? And so, when you mentioned this idea of like his conversation with Coretta Scott King reminded of that too right because
it’s like here’s what I’m trying to do, right? I’m putting you on to what I’m trying to do right. This is you know
let’s try to figure like and no
one else has to know. This is a private
conversation between you and you know the
two od us right? But were organizing right. And we have a strategy
to do something. And I also think that’s
important right. I think, I think – but of course
you have to like again have that connection and everything to do that. But it’s important
to like to actually organize.>>To articulate. So, that’s a great point. And it’s kind of what
I was getting at. And it’s even you
know we talk about Martin being used
to legitimize every illegitimate
form of engagement. Malcolm being or used to delegitimize every legitimate
form of resistance. You know a lot
of times you’re undermining the
other person. And part of that
is communication. Like you need to tell people what you’re doing. People need to know
what you’re doing. Part of it that I think that – because there were people that engaged in unproductive resistance. And there were people
that engaged in unproductive engagement
that would have happily – there are people that will
happily throw their communities
under the bus for you know
individual elevation. You’re going to find validators to
be used against your community no matter what. You can’t
change that. That profile is going to exist in every
community that you’re going to have someone
that’s going to be weaponized against their own community because they’re willing to trade
in their integrity for money or for
access or of power. But obviously not
everyone is like that. And that is a great conversation
I think right now where you’re talking government
engagement. So, I’ve, I’ve
never been in the White House. I’ve.>>I went
once.>>Been. You went once?
Yeah. I’ve been on the outside of
the White House. I gave a Khutbah on the White House
lawn. That was fun.>>I wrote a letter
to the president.>>Oh, okay.>>
Open [inaudible].>>So, you read a
letter. So, I’ve never actually been inside. I’ve been but
I know I think that some people
– like I would not put two Muslims
that have gone inside to your point before you even said that in
the same category. The point is are
you still you? And are you raising the issues that need to be raised whether
you’re sitting at the table or
you’re outside? Are you compromising on your values on
your principles? Are you no longer
articulating bold stances because you’re
afraid that it will compromise
your position? Are you not connecting with the rest of the
community and letting people know what exactly you’re
trying to achieve? And one of my 2019 goals – it’s getting
late in 2019. Is to do a better
job articulating. I mean I think there’s a lot of frustration
with leaders in the community
that we don’t do a good job – good
enough job of actually telling people
what we’re doing. Frameworks. What are
your frameworks? What are you
operating out of? What do you – how do you judge whether or
not something is a legitimate engagement or not a legitimate
engagement? We might have it worked
out in our heads, but we need to
do a better job of communicating that to other people in
our community at the leadership level and to our communities
as a whole. Maybe not to the same level but to some extent so
that it’s not just – it doesn’t just
seem like it’s a bunch of individuals rising and then acting as gate keepers to
their community. Or even worse being weaponized against
their communities.>>So, one of the
ultimate goals can be to empower members
of the community, right? The power
of community. So, people within them have those critical consciousness
that they can, they can do that
type of evaluation.>>Uh-huh.>>So, we
have a few minutes before we move
into questions.>>Can I ask
you a question?>>Yeah. I suppose so.>>So, one of the things
that came up to me also when I was
thinking about – when I was listening
to talk today, and this — you mentioned
this too about how Malcom X he established the Muslim Masque
Incorporated and LAU. And I was thinking about
you know it’s like Malcolm X and El-Hajj
Malik El-Shabazz right was black
and he was Muslim. And all the time right. And – but in the, in the ways he
gets frozen as a villain right in some activist
communities and in some black
communities right. His Muslimness gets
kind of you know. He’s just a black
nationalist or a pan-Africanist.
>>Right. Right. Right.>>
So, I was wondering if you might comment on that being the resident non-Muslim on the stage. In terms of if you’ve seen that or what you think might be going on
with that you know?>>Well so I
suspect there’s many things going
on with that. And I don’t think
that I would have the vision to
see all of them. So, one or a couple of things going on I think is that Malcolm meant so
much to so many people. And it – during
his lifetime. But then after his
life.>>Uh-huh.>>I mean Malcolm is
the central figure for us – for the animating
the emergence of a social
movement that he never was a part of because he didn’t
live through it. The black power
movement which emerged immediately
after his death. And he was this main figure you now intellectual and political
inspiration for it. But he wasn’t actually
a part of it. So, I imagine
that’s part of it. Another part is that
I would suspect and I invite the
two of you and others to work with this. He was a Muslim – he had a couple
of different iterations if you will. So, I mean he was in
the Nation of Islam. And then left the
Nation of Islam. And left is a mild way
to say what happened. And then embraced
another form of Islam. He’s – his identity as a Muslim was
continuous but it’s, it’s context and expression were different, very
different, right? And so that means, that means different
communities, different identities can attach to him or not. So, I imagine that
is part as well. And then finally because
his – for him the political struggle
and his identity as a Muslim were unified, but he – but that wasn’t there for
so many others. So, others who weren’t
Muslim could be and were drawn to and
inspired by what he did. So, I suspect
those are some of the reasons why. But I offer that as
a starting point.>>Yeah, I mean I think – I just I mean. So, I
put you on the spot. But I also bring
that up because I do think one of the
things that I’ve heard other people talk and I’m particularly
into the sort of contemporary
activist spaces is this way in which
sort of black Muslims – like so sort of people
want to connect to Muslims and they skip over right the black
Muslim that there. Or something like oh like oh I’m
[inaudible] Muslims. Okay let me go find
this person right. Like I’m a black
[inaudible]. Yeah I’m yeah
I’m black from wherever and
I’m like oh let me find this other person. But my cousin Rashid ‘m like oh you know
whatever. You know. And so ‘m just interested in thinking
to is like you know like you –
it’s like you know but we’ll
claim Malcolm. And it’s like
well if you claim Malcom right and he’s black and Muslim
it’s like you can’t have him you
don’t want us. You know what I mean?>>Right. Right.
Right.>>So, like in that way I was
thinking about it too. Yeah.>>So, I think there’s – maybe
they’re other people who have thoughts on that. And we’re moving
to questions now. So, Lumas is going to guide us through
the questions. [ Background Noise ]>>So, as you can probably tell – as you can probably
tell it was just really getting good. But that typically
how it happens right? We warm up. But we also know that the evening is running
a little long. And we wanted to make sure we had an
opportunity to go to some questions
from the audience. And there is one
particular question I would like to
offer and ask first. And just make a distinction from my question and an audience questions
because I will read the audience
questions as written. But even before I ask
my first question, I want to urge the speakers to bring if you can some
of your experiences. Because you are all
activists, right? So, your introductions
are very much about your professorship,
your academic work. But we’re in front
of folks who know the complexities and
the struggles of taking this from theory into
practice, right? And living this out
in the life through the academy and also
beyond the academy. And those things
look very different. And it’s very challenging to walk that line at times. And asking you to remember that in this
audience there are community members and students who
are looking for those very particle
and pragmatic ways to push themselves into doing this
work some more. So, with that I want to get this
question out of the way. So, we know that
Martin and Malcolm represent open criticism
of the state, right? And they were heavily surveilled during
their life. In what ways were Malcolm
and Martin’s lives impacted by surveillance? How would they
respond to issues of modern-day
surveillance from the Patriot Act to
FBI informants, to artificial intelligence being placed in
communities? [ Background
Noise ]>>Okay. So, I think – I mentioned the term
that I wanted to give a little bit more time to before I get to the surveillance
thing which was prescribed protest. Malcolm’s fear was of operating within
prescribed protest. And so, you only –
you know and that can happen with
civil disobedience. When civil disobedience in a way becomes civil
obedience because you’re going to start and end at the time that
you’re expected to. You’re going to –
you’re not going to actually
disrupt anything. I think that
when it comes to civil liberties
in particular in the post 911 era. And this is where
you talk about how justice actually
intersects. DHS as an agency was formed out of an Islam – in an Islamophobic climate
under George W. Bush. ICE was formed under DHS. Counter terrorism?
Are you kidding me? If anything, they’re
terrorizing communities. I mean in Dallas
in particular where ICE raids literally terrorize the
community more so then any other
place in the country. We had six times
more ICE raids then any other city last
year in Dallas. ICE was born out of an Islamophobic
agency, right? An agency that
was formed in Islamophobia and then you have this agency
that was formed. Obama expanded ICE. And expanded some of those crack downs on civil liberties in his
administration. Of course now, we know where we
are right now. We’re seeing the ugliest ending of all of those, all of those interventions. What happens to
us unfortunately is that Americans cannot if – when you say abolish ICE
you’re radical. Because people think it’s some sort of historical
institution. It’s like no. If you have a driver’s license
you’re older then ICE. It’s not a – it’s not a historical
institution. It was formed out of a lie. So, you don’t just
need to abolish ICE you need to abolish
the premise of ICE. You don’t just need to abolish The Patriot Act. You need to
abolish the false premise of The Patriot Act. That makes some communities more dangerous
then others and hence crack downs
on them more justifiable to the
American mind. And so that’s why I’m highly critical of
engaging in any of those programs
in any way that offers you know in the name of trying
to curb them. To lessen the damage. Those programs should
– any engagement with those types of programs suggests some validity
to its premise. And so there needs to be a sense of actually trying to reclaim
civil liberties. And I think that with Malcolm who was
surveilled from ’50 to ’65 until his death. With Martin who was surveilled until his death. I think that both of them would have probably taken a similar stance on government
surveillance and on some of the things that are taking place there. So, we need to
reclaim that, that fight because
again we let the news cycle
dictate our thoughts. Like who’s even talking
about this stuff now? Like where are
you even hearing about The Patriot Act? Where are you
hearing about you know some of those crack down on civil liberties. So I think we need to,
we need to not just seek to invalidate them and organize around
invalidating them. But also pointing to
the faulty premise that they were introduced upon in the first place. [ Inaudible ] [
Laughter ]>>So, well first let me send Tawana Petty who
I mentioned. One of the things
she’s working on now is challenging project green light
which is a right now this moment in
Detroit this effort by Mayor Doug and
his administration to have these cameras all over the city that – in using the – what’s
the name [inaudible]? Not drones but.>>
Face recognition.>>Face – thank you. Facial recognition
to surveille the – essentially
the whole city and particularly marginalized
people in the city. So, there’s – so this is about contemporary
[inaudible] to the question or the
Lumas prefaces of the question for people to learn about this now. Identify and
challenge the premise that under which is – under and you can be engaged with people because they’re
our communities. Some people in front, who are engaged in
this the broader struggles against
project green light. And other efforts
in the city of Detroit in this effort
to remake the city.>>I have a – it
was mentioned in my bio that I do a
one-woman show right? And the segment of the show I talk about sort I, I take excerpts from
press releases from the Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force where they talk about Muslim men, black Muslim men, Arab
Muslim men who were arrested or charged for terrorism, like
alleged terrorism. And in all of – and I take excerpts from
this report verbatim. And in all of these
cases there was a cooperating source right an informant. All
of the cases. I then link that to
the recent release of the FBI’s surveillance of what they call black identity extremists right talking about
black activists. And then I had
found recently a letter written
by my mother, may she rest in peace, when she was in college
in ’71 at Ohio State. In the letter
she talks about Dick Gregory coming
to her campus. I went online
to look to find like a newspaper
clipping for the letter. The first thing I found was Dick Gregory’s FBI file. And in Dick
Gregory’s FBI file they also talk about
his visit to campus. Her letter doesn’t
talk about – so in one – in her
letter it says that the black student
organization on the campus was nominated Dick
Gregory to be president of Ohio
State University. But her letter does
not indicate that she was actually there
at the meeting. The FBI report does
indicate that they were actually there
at the meeting right because the
names are redacted. And they say on this date these people decided
to do this right. Which reminded me then of the NYPD surveillance of Muslim Student Associates
in New York City. Which also reminded me of the recent report
that someone came out about San Diego where they have all these cameras
now in San Diego. And there was a report I think it’s CAIR [Council
on American-Islamic Relations] San Diego in which they looked at
where the cameras are and like there’s like aa high proportion
of these cameras around the masjid, the Mosques in
San Diego, right. So, thinking about what that meant to their lives. We know that surveillance
was used right as a tool right to disrupt their
personal lives, their family lives
and to sort of disrupt the movements that they were a part of. And today the same
thing is happening. And so, I think how we
should respond to that going off what they
both said is to one educate ourselves about
what’s happening. There’s a lot of noise. And it’s really hard to pay attention sometimes, right? But to educate ourselves about
what’s happening. Find the people in the communities who
are working on that. And if you don’t work with them you can support their work with your time or your money
and your effort. And just remember
right the FBI is not your friend right. I think that’s
really important. Like they’re not
your friends. These institutions
they’re – they weren’t designed
to be your friends. They were not designed to help your communities. And so, you need to
sort really keep your third eye open and you deal with them right. In a away – and the ways to educate yourself
specifically when you’re stopped by
the police etcetera. But I think it’s
important to recognize that
law enforcement, law enforcement agencies like they you know they come – so they emerge
right from slavery. They emerge from sort
of trying to track right black people and keep them unfree right. They emerge you know from sort the genocide
of indigency. Yeah this where they
emerge from right. So, these
institutions that’s their legacy. That’s
their history. And so, you know we say abolish other stuff too right which I guess
is more radicle now. Bu tin any event I think at the end of the day
I think we have to educate ourselves and stay connected so that we know what’s
happening around us, so you don’t get caught up.>>I need to add one point to that because I
think it’s really – it’s fascinating
to me how when you watch Muslim Twitter. And how there are literally faceless people that can drive entire
conversations in our community. It’s
incredible to me. Like I watch it every time. And it’s like
faceless people. If they’re even people,
bots that can drive entire direction in thinking in our community. And like no one stops to think this guy is
like Abu something. And he’s got Elmo in
his profile picture. Like why, why are
we taking people? So, we have to think about the way as technology has evolved how are
other ways I mean if we – it’s no longer just the guy that is praying Fajr next to you. You don’t know if you
can trust that person. And I’m not saying this to make us overly paranoid. It’s to make us cautious. Typically, what happened in the post 91 era in particular is you’d
have these people that would up to
the masjid and then they’d start
telling a few youths hey let’s go play paintball and let’s prepare
for Afghanistan. And I’m like wait a
minute you know we’re doing Jihad and ha, ha, ha. And then it was
Allahu Akbar and that got on camera. And then you ruined
the kid’s life. What does that
look like now with online
conversations with extreme vices in different directions
that drive trends? And like we just have to be smart about
what’s happening to our community because
as surveillance and infiltration will only grow with the means by
which they can grow. And we just have to be smarter and more
cautious about that stuff.>>Thank you. So, when we opened up
the dialog I charged the speakers would
be open of course. And then I just came back and I asked them to also charged them to bring
a little bit more of their working themselves to this
conversation. So now I want to charge the audience
with something. As I read the questions. We all come in with our understandings
of this work. Or understanding so X
and King and we came here tonight to be pushed. And as I read
these questions I think – I just
want to remind everyone to be open
to being pushed. Because there’s something
that I think is missed when everything
feels comfortable. It’s important that we
are in some ways we embrace the
discomfort when it comes to thinking
about these things. Because again
we’re in a sea of water that hadn’t – that would have us
think one way. And that one way maybe antithetical to
communities sometimes. So, we must learn to be comfortable with
being pushed. So, with that I will
ask the first question. And you may not push it. I’m not saying you will. But. So, how do you think America can
learn from its history and present
brutality against the African
American community in order to address our current
violence against the Latin X community at home and the Palestinians
conflict abroad? How do we call us
American’s to action? [ Background Noise ]>>
I started last time.>>He did start.>>The first part was how do we learn from
the history.>>Mic.>>First part was how do we learn from the history. Second part was how do we push people to action.>>Uh-huh. [ Background Noise ]>>Well one thing
I guess pushing I suppose I think
it’s important that – because as someone who identifies as Afro-Latina I think it’s also
important to recognize that sort of African
American and Latin X are not always these
things over here. So that’s just one
thing. So, push. I think how can we learn? I think we learn –
here’s an example. There’s this term
that academics use call comparative
racialization. And this is a term
that basically means how one group gets kind of racialized as you
know as a threat or a problem by its association
with another group. And so, and example
that I used one in the class related but not the same was that
when they – when the people were coming for asylum when it first
started happening. And Trump was like oh and there’s some like Arabs or Muslims or something
there, too right? This idea that like these – the people
seeking asylum were this threat and
they were even more threatening
because there were these potential
Middle Eastern. I think it was middle
easterner’s wright that we also sort of you know sort of coming over the
border like to. [ Inaudible ]>>
Right, right, right. To get us all. You know
this kind of thing. So, I think one of the ways that I – one
of the ways that I think is helpful to
think about this is to think about
the ways in which right sort of myths about black people for example, can compliment right. Sort of myths about
other groups right. To sort off be
you know sort like – so they’re
threatening in this way and that reminds me of
how this person is threatening in
that way right to see those connections. I think is one way
to think about this. To think about sort
of in terms of just our — how to
understand the history. Because I think that
it’s important to recognize you
know this is not, this is not new right? This has happened before. And so, you know
I say like you know black people
have like you know, you know what did I? I had – I’m trying to the phrase
that they used. But you know they’re
like you know they’re threatening,
they’re hypersexual. You know these
things they have. You know they’re
violent you know they’re you know they have large butts’ etcetera. This kind of thing, right? And then it’s like Muslims
you know they wear scarves and they
have beards and they blow up
stuff, right? Like this like you
know these things they work in similar
kinds of ways. And so, I think thinking
about one when you know how sort of
black people, people of African
descent have been made into threats. And then also how
they’ve bene made into signs of American
exceptionalism right? Also, how they’ve been
– oh no were okay because look at
these people now type of thing right? So, you can see how that’s happening with
hthis group you can kind of track it and see how it’s also doing
with another group. Because they’re actually
working together to uphold the same
sort of system. So, that’s one thing I
would say about that. And how do get
people to change? A push or whatever. I mean that’s like you know what is
the answer to life. But I mean like you
know like I mean, I mean I just speak
for myself personally. I think that similar to sort of my thing about Malcolm and like family. It’s like you
know I come from a community, right? I come a community. I come from a family. And people who sort
of educated me from a very young age
about what’s going on, how to see the world. And really instilled in
me sort of a kind of a sense of purpose
around these things. And so, and I think
you know one way to get people to change
is to help people find that purpose
for themselves. And then also to
be – and to help them find the supports they need to sort of
live that out. Because it’s also you can’t you know
it’s difficult – you can’t organize
alone right? So, similar to what the Imam was saying around you know speaking
to people and learning from people
and talking to people. Like you also
have to like get off your computer
and your screen and like actually see
people in the flesh, breathe the same
air you know like. That also I think is a big part of [inaudible].>>So, I’m going
to say quickly summarizing
what’s been said. To study and learn. And then study
not necessarily in the formal sense, though that could
be valuable. But with and intention
with a purpose of learning going finding the premise to
challenge a premise. To study, learn and
connect with people. And then I would maybe slightly misinterpreting the question on purpose. But I would throw it
back to that person. But to all of us have
you asked yourself how you – what is it that will – that gets
you activated? Andi think each
of us can try to develop our own sense
of how change happens, that studying
for the purpose of seeing how change happens and then how you
can be part of that.>>Should I – yep. I
will – I’m going to say this because I know that
we’re running out of time and to just to sort of build off of this. When you engage something in the form of activism, engage it out of a
sense of conviction. Like really understand
why you’re there. Be intentional about it. And connect it — specifically by the way to the Muslims in here you know where you can
connect it to your – to the Seerah and to the prophetic
person biography and just live it. But connect it to something that’s deeply
meaningful to you. And have that conviction. Act from a place
of conviction. One thing that think when we’re talking about the faith question is, I don’t know that
Malcolm without the spiritual fuel that he had would have
been who he was. I don’t that Martin
would have been the same person without
his spiritual fuel. It’s important for us to engage things out of
place of conviction. To deeply
understand issues. And then to focus. You know there’s a gripe with performative
activism right now. Activism is not
showing up in 20 protests a year
coping a selfie. And putting it on
your social media with a really cool
profile picture. And a lot of hashtags. Study two things one, two issues that
you can really, really have
meaningful impact in. Immerse yourself
in those issues. Learn those issues. Be present in other things that speak to
your convictions. Be present. Right?
Show support. But immerse
yourself deeply. If you’re really passionate about antipoverty, immerse yourself in
antipoverty policy. Work, work, work
on antipoverty. If you’re passionate about criminal justice
work on it. If you’re passionate about immigration you need to go beyond you know tweeting out families
belong together. Like it’s got to
be more than that. So, immerse yourself deeply in something
you care about. If you’re in the MSA, be in something else too. It’s not a – the
MSA’s great. I know that you all
brought me here. So, support your MSA. And I deeply believe in the MSA but be involved in
something else too. Be involved in
something that’s deeply meaningful to you. Choose something that
you really care about. Champion that cause. But – and be a part of it. And connect with it
at a spiritual level. Connect with it at
an emotional level. Connect with it
so that it’s not leaving your head. It’s not leaving
your thoughts. You’re constantly
thinking about how you can make
a change in the people’s lives
that are affected by that particular issue. Please immerse yourself in those meaningful
things insha’Allah. Don’t just jump around. Think about things that are important, that
are meaningful. And to the – you
know to Dr. Su’ad’s point like I see it
all the time in Texas. Like I remember when the whole dreamer’s
thing came out. A lot of people were assuming that it
was you know it’s just a Latino issue, right? It’s – this has nothing to do with you know
anyone else, right? It’s Hispanics. And it’s isolated to that. And then you
start finding out like okay you know
this brother, this sister and –
in Texas we have a big – alhamdulilah
– Latino Muslim community in Texas. But you know you start finding out
that hey you know my friend from Afghanistan who’ve I’ve been
hanging out with all these years, I never knew that they
were a dreamer too. And then it starts connect
– now it shouldn’t have to come to
that, but it does. Sometimes you’re confronted when it’s closest to you. When something that
you cannot escae. You can’t turn a
blind eye to someone. And then you realize
wait a minute this issues far more
then that person. And if thy feel this way and I feel
this way that, that way so and so feels this and so and so
feels this way. So, it’s the same
paly book that’s being used against
different communities. Ultimately it comes
down to this. What it comes down to
is that this community, whatever communities
being targeted is not civilized or worthy of human dignity and dignified policies and
practices towards it. Whether that’s
domestic or foreign. Because I can
tell you having see people in cages at the border of El Paso, McAllen, Juarez, Tijuana. I’ve seen it.
Tornio. I’ve seen those people and
what they’re put in. That would not happen
at the Canadian border. If America saw children with blond hair and
blue eyes in cages and stacked on top
of each other in concrete warehouses
things would not proceed with
business as usual. So, we have to be honest
with ourselves that people have been stripped of their human dignity. Therefore, policy towards them
is not dignified. So, you need to work on the human dignity part. And in the meantime,
work on the policy part as well in a
meaningful way. [ Applause ]>>Alright. We are at time. So, I will ask the speakers to just close with 60 second message
to the community, if you will before
we bring up Mohammad and
Jumanah to give us an official closeout and actually present gift
to the speakers. 60 seconds if you will.>>60 seconds. Start now. Okay so I think one thing that Omar’s presentation
helped us to see that Malcolm and Martin if – if they were growing together it
wasn’t like this. It wasn’t like they were going meeting
in the middle. It was like this. So,
they each were growing. And that – and so, up
until the last day. That is inspiration that I think that we can
take from them. And each of us now individually in
our collectivities in our communities can and should recreate
the world. I think that’s where we see the various
struggles. The various problems
with the world. We have to recreate
it.>>Okay. So, I think I will just reiterate what
was said about the spiritual – having that that kind of
spiritual resource. I think that there is
like that mentioned too sometimes people
will see this opposition between kind of sort
of doing sort of, sort of working
communities, doing activism in
your spirituality. Right. Right now like Muslim community in The United States
there’s this really kind of weird conversation about that where there’s a sense that oh we have to Islamize like our activism. And I think that it’s
weird because it’s like you know if you’re – if you’re principled, if you have
purpose right if you’re connected right to people then what
you’re trying to do will naturally be inclined right Toward God the divine higher
power etcetera. Like this will
naturally happen. And so, I think
it’s important I think for
people to sort of kind of listen to their
own selves right. As they’re sort
of doing this. And also thinking about
what is activism? Because that’s also
a loaded word. And sometimes you’re
busy and you have this and you have kids
and you have that. And you working you know
like 12-hour shifts. You can’t do all that
kind of stuff right. But there’s like
this Muslim tradition right where the Prophet Muhammad
sallallahu alayhi wa sallam says right a smile is
charity right. And so, we know that
in a lot of traditions giving charity is a
very good thing right? But what if I
don’t have right. A smile is charity. So, I think the
same thing is true about activism right. There’re all these
different kind of ways and really small ways that you can do something right. To push us forward. Or you can see something
crazy happening on your street or in your job and you say
something right. Or you make sure
that this kid – the kid who lives next door to you who’s
parents or whatever. You know they’re all
these little things we can do right to
push us forward. So, if you’re
– if you can’t you know join the
organization. If you can’t do that like think about
right if a smile is charity what are the other small ways in which you can also be engaged right in pushing us forward
in an everyday way.>>Yeah, I think
I mean – just to piggy back off of that it’s
purposeful living. I think the word activist is very loaded sometimes. And you know and sometimes someone introduces as an activist I kind
of look around. I’m like where did
that come from? You know like you know Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. said, “I’m just a
Baptist preacher.” Like I’m just an Imam. Leave me out – don’t call me an
activist you know. But it’s purposeful living. Being purposeful
about your life whether it’s in
private or in public. Whether it’s in the
capacity of a family – within a family or within a leading role at
an organization. It’s purposeful living. And here’s what I’ll
say in conclusion about Malcolm and Martin and heroes in general. We make two mistakes
with heroes. We either make them so perfect and infallible that they’re inaccessible. Or worse we, we lower them until
they become tools of our
own deviations. And you know
like means of us assessing things that they were actually you know categorically opposed
to in their being. So, heroes are meant to be emulated and you know whether it’s the best
of people or whether it’s someone that
was getting there. They’re meant
to be emulated. Even prophets of God are meant to be
emulated, right? So, we are supposed to
emulate them and find them in our lives and unlock
purposeful living. And if you, if you
live longing for the divine and you don’t
let trends dictate you. You don’t let
power dictate you because you’re thinking
about His power. You don’t let trends dictate you because you’re thinking about
His principles. You don’t let you know
you’re dictated by that longing
for the divine, ikhlas, sincerity. Whether it’s in private or in public it’s going to purify your worship and it’s going to
purify your work. I’ll just call
it your work. It’ll purify your work. So, you need to purify
your worship where the sight of God becomes
so beloved to you, that whether it’s just God watching you or God and someone else
watching you you’re thinking about
the sight of God. That’s what sincerity
is in worship. Some thing with work.
Right. Your work. Make it try –
you know create that longing so that you are constantly at it. So, when the news
cycle moves away from that kid in Juarez
because right now, we’re not talking
about kids in cages because they’re
talking about something else right
now. You’re still there. When the news cycle
moves on from Jordan Edwards and Botham Jean you’re still there. When the news cycle moves on from the child in Gaza and Palestine or the child in Kashmir
you’re still there. You’re always there
because you’ve connected for something other
than the moment. You’ve connected
for the one who dignified
that person and enable you to work for that person’s
dignity.>>Alright. So, let me say thank you to hanging
with us for so long. Only about five
more minutes we want you to hang
with us because we want to
definitely celebrate the speakers for what
they have just done. And I want to
just say again the importance of
considering your sources, committing to
read and I think something else that was touched on a little bit, but remembering
people’s parents. I like how Dr.
Khabeer started with you know talking about Malcolm’s parents. It helps us to humanize
people when we see that they are
part of a family. They’re not just
again an individual. They come with a community. And sometimes even remembering someone’s
parents and children’s goes a long
way to humanize them. And for us to
connect to them. So, now I would like to
bring up Jumanah and Mohammad so that they may present the speakers
with some gifts. [ Applause ]>>And real quickly I don’t know if
this was stated. It might have been stated. It’s definitely
on the program. There were a lot of colleges and
departments and units that supported and sponsored this event. But there were
also a lot of student orgs as well. And it wasn’t just the Muslim
Student Association that saw this as important. It was a lot of
different groups who saw that this dialog
was important because people
recognize that with these two men stood for was deliberation
of many people. But they also understood that the strategies and tactics used for
any community important for
all communities. So, just want to put up and highlight again
that various student orgs are
a part of this. And we encourage you to
continue working with one another to bring
these dialogs to campus. [ Applause ]>>Wow.
What incredible evening. Thank you all so much
for sticking with us. I know it was long, but we are so
grateful to you for staying and participating in this important topic. Can we have an
enormous round of applause for you
guys the guests. [ Applause ]>>
Thank you all also to Lumas for
highlighting that this was a collaborative
effort between the Muslim Students
Association and several other student
organizations. They are also listed on the program on the back
along with our co-sponsors – co-sponsoring
units on campus. We have a small token of appreciation for each
of our speakers. Imam Omar, Dr. Su’ad, Dr. Ward, and Dr. Lumas. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your
support and for your participation.
>>Thank you. [ Applause ]>>We hope that you’ll enjoy
these local flowers in you space over
the coming days. This lecture was both livestreamed and
video recorded. The recording
will be edited, and closed captioning
will be added. So, we’ll be sure to send out that link in the next, in the next
couple of weeks. So, stay tuned. And
please share it widely. It was an important topic. And again, we want
this to be as accessible as
possible to everyone. We do have one final note. For anyone who
would like to pray Maghrib, the sunset prayer, we have a prayer
room set aside on the fourth
floor of Rackham. So, if you just take
the elevators or stairs up to the
fourth floor, it’s in the east
conference room. And it’s literally
that way. It’s in the farthest
corner of the building. And inside of that room the qiblah is indicated. So, you’ll know
where to pray. Thank you so much. We appreciate you
guys sticking around. And we hope that you
have a pleasant evening. Assalaamualeikum.
[ Applause ]

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