Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little; May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965), also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was an American Black Muslim minister and spokesman for the Nation of Islam. After leaving the Nation of Islam in 1964, he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and became a Sunni Muslim; he also founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Less than a year later, he was assassinated in Washington Heights on the first day of National Brotherhood Week.
Historian Robin D.G. Kelley wrote, "Malcolm X has been called many things: Pan-Africanist, father of Black Power, religious fanatic, closet conservative, incipient socialist, and a menace to society. The meaning of his public life — his politics and ideology — is contested in part because his entire body of work consists of a few dozen speeches and a collaborative autobiography whose veracity is challenged.... Malcolm has become a sort of tabula rasa, or blank slate, on which people
of different positions can write their own interpretations of his politics and legacy. Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas can both declare Malcolm X their hero."
Malcolm Little was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Earl Little and Louise Helen (née Norton). He lived briefly at 3448 Pinkney Street in the North Omaha neighborhood. His father was an outspoken Baptist lay preacher and supporter of Marcus Garvey, as well as a member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. According to Malcolm, three of Earl Little's brothers died violently at the hands of white men, and one of his uncles
had been lynched.
Earl Little had three children (Ella, Mary, and Earl, Jr.) by a previous marriage before he married Malcolm's
mother. From his second marriage he had eight children, of whom Malcolm was the fourth. (Earl and Louise Little's children's
names were, in order, Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Reginald, Wesley, Yvonne, and Robert.)
Louise Little was born in Grenada and, according to Malcolm, she looked more like a white woman. Her father was a white man of whom Malcolm knew
nothing except what he described as his mother's shame. Malcolm got his light complexion from him. Initially he felt it was
a status symbol to be light-skinned but later he would say that he “hated every drop of that white rapist's blood that
is in me.” As Malcolm was the lightest child in the family, he felt that his father favored him; however, his mother
gave him more hell for the same reason. One of his nicknames, "Red," derived from the reddish tinge of his hair. He was described as having, at birth, "ash-blonde
hair ... tinged with cinnamon," and at four, "reddish-blonde hair." His hair darkened as he aged, but resembled the hair of
his paternal grandmother whose hair "turned reddish in the summer sun."
According to The Autobiography of Malcolm X, his mother had been threatened by Ku Klux Klansmen while she was pregnant with him in December 1924; his mother recalled that the family was warned to leave Omaha, because his father's involvement with UNIA was, according to the Klansmen, "stirring up trouble".
The family relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1926, and then to Lansing, Michigan shortly thereafter. In 1931, Malcolm's father was found dead, having been run over by a streetcar in Lansing.
Authorities ruled his death a suicide. Malcolm claimed that this cause of death was disputed by the black community at the time, and he later disputed it
himself, saying that his family had frequently found themselves the target of harassment by the Black Legion, a white supremacist group his father accused of burning down their home in 1929. Malcolm wondered how his father could bash himself in the head and then lay down across street tracks to get run over.
Though Malcolm’s father had two life insurance policies, his mother received death benefits solely from the smaller policy. Malcolm claimed that insurance
company that had issued the larger policy claimed that Earl Little's death had been a suicide, and accordingly refused to
pay. Louise Little had a nervous breakdown and was declared legally insane in December 1938. Malcolm and his siblings were split up and sent to different foster homes. Louise Little was formally committed to the State Mental Hospital at Kalamazoo, Michigan, and remained there until Malcolm and his brothers and sisters had her released 26 years later.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X states that, following the death of his father, Malcolm Little lived
on Charles Street in downtown East Lansing. However, the 1930 U.S. Census (released in 2002) shows him living on a completely different Charles Street, in the low income Urbandale neighborhood
in Lansing Township, between Lansing and East Lansing. Later, at the time he was in high school, he lived in Mason, an almost all-white small town 12 miles to the south.
Malcolm X graduated from junior high school at the top of his class, but dropped out soon after a teacher told him that his aspirations of being a lawyer were "no realistic goal for a nigger". After enduring a series of foster homes, Malcolm was first sent to a detention center and then later moved to Boston to live with his older half-sister, Ella Little Collins. In Boston he held a variety of jobs, and intermittently
found employment with the New Haven Railroad. In 1942, Malcolm became "involved with Boston's underworld fringe."
Young adult years
Malcolm left Boston to live for a short time in Michigan, but soon moved to New York City in 1943. There he
worked again for a short time for the New Haven Railroad. Malcolm found work as a shoe-shiner at a Lindy Hop nightclub; in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he says that he once shined the shoes of Duke Ellington and other notable African-American musicians. After some time in Harlem, he became involved in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, and robbery During this time, he was known to his friends and acquaintances as "Detroit Red". Between 1943 and 1946, when he was arrested and jailed in Massachusetts, Malcolm drifted between Boston and New York City three more times.
When Malcolm was examined for the draft, military physicians classified him to be "mentally disqualified for military service." He explained in his
autobiography that he put on a display to avoid the draft by telling the examining officer that he couldn't wait to organize
with other black soldiers so he could "kill some crackers." His approach worked, and he was given a classification that ensured he would not be drafted.
In early 1946, Malcolm returned to Boston. On January 12, he was arrested for burglary after trying to steal
back a stolen watch he had left for repairs at a jewelry shop. Two days later, Malcolm was indicted once again for carrying
firearms. On January 16, he was charged with Grand Larceny and Breaking and Entering. Malcolm was sentenced to eight to ten years in Massachusetts State Prison.
On February 27, Malcolm began serving his sentence at the Massachusetts State Prison in Charlestown. While in prison, Malcolm earned the nickname of "Satan" for his vitriolic hatred towards the Bible, God and religion in general. Malcolm began reading books from the prison library; soon he developed first a voracious appetite for reading, then
astigmatism. During this time, he received correspondence from his brother Reginald telling him about the Nation of Islam, to which Malcolm subsequently converted. For the remainder of his incarceration, he maintained regular contact
with Elijah Muhammad, the group's leader. According to the Autobiography, Malcolm started to gain fame among prisoners, but
also remained under the keen eye of the authorities, who recognized in him a force that could potentially foment trouble,
and who did not grant him the expected early release after five years. In February 1948, due largely to his sister's efforts,
Malcolm was transferred to an experimental prison in Norfolk, Massachusetts, that had a much larger library. Malcolm later reflected on his time in prison: "Months passed without my even
thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life." On August 7, 1952, Malcolm received parole and was released from prison.
Nation of Islam
In 1952, after his release from prison, Malcolm went to meet Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. It was soon after
this that he changed his surname to "X". Malcolm explained the name by saying, The "X" is meant to symbolize the rejection
of "slave names" and the absence of an inherited African name to take its place. The "X" is also the brand that many slaves received on their upper arm. This rationale
led many members of the Nation of Islam to change their surnames to X.
In March 1953, the FBI opened a file on Malcolm, supposedly in response to an allegation that he had described himself as a Communist. Included in the file were two letters wherein Malcolm used the alias "Malachi Shabazz". In Message to the Blackman in America, Elijah Muhammad explained the name Shabazz as belonging to descendants of an "Asian Black nation".
In May 1953, the FBI concluded that Malcolm X had an "asocial personality with paranoid trends (pre-psychotic paranoid schizophrenia)", and had, in fact, sought treatment for his disorder. This was further supported by a letter intercepted by
the FBI, dated June 29, 1950. The letter said, in reference to his 4-F classification and rejection by the military, "Everyone has always said ... Malcolm is crazy, so it isn't hard to convince
people that I am."
Later that year, Malcolm left his half-sister Ella in Boston to stay with Elijah Muhammad in Chicago. He soon returned to Boston and became the Minister of the Nation of Islam's Temple Number Eleven. In 1954,
Malcolm was selected to lead the Nation of Islam's mosque #7 on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, and he rapidly expanded its membership. He became known to a wider audience after a local television broadcast
in New York City about the Nation of Islam. After that, Malcolm was frequently sought after for quotations by the print media,
radio, and television programs from the US and, later, around the world. In the years between his adoption of the Nation of
Islam in 1952, and his split with the organization in 1964, he espoused the Nation's teachings, including referring to whites
as "devils" who had been created in a misguided breeding program by a black scientist, and predicting the inevitable (and imminent) return of blacks to their natural place at the top of the social
Malcolm was soon seen as the second most influential leader of the movement, after Elijah Muhammad himself.
He opened additional temples, including one in Philadelphia, and was largely credited with increasing membership in the NOI from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963. He inspired
the boxer Cassius Clay to join the Nation of Islam and change his name to Muhammad Ali. (Like Malcolm X, Ali later left the NOI and joined mainstream Islam.)
In 1958, Malcolm married Betty X (née Sanders) in Lansing, Michigan. They had six daughters together, all of whom carried the surname of Shabazz. Their names were Attallah (also
spelled Attillah), born in 1958; Qubilah, born in 1960; Ilyasah, born in 1962; Gamilah (also spelled Gumilah), born in 1964; and twins, Malaak and Malikah,
born after Malcolm's death in 1965.
In September 1960, Malcolm met with Fidel Castro as a prominent member of a welcoming committee that had been set up in Harlem several weeks earlier. The purpose
of this group, which included a wide range of black community leaders, was to greet heads of state, particularly from African
countries, who would be in New York to address the UN General Assembly.
Tensions and departure from the Nation of Islam
In the spring of 1963, Malcolm started collaborating on The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley. Malcolm would later, in the Autobiography, explain his break with Elijah Muhammad by saying that in
the early 1960s, he had begun to hear rumors of Elijah Muhammad's extramarital affairs with young secretaries. Adultery is condemned in the teachings of the Nation of Islam. At first, he claimed, Malcolm brushed these rumors aside.
Later, he spoke with Elijah Muhammad's son and the women making the accusations and believed them. In 1963, according to the
Autobiography, Elijah Muhammad himself confirmed to Malcolm that the rumors were true and claimed that this activity
was undertaken to follow a pattern established by Biblical prophets.
Malcolm viewed the March on Washington critically, unable to understand why black people were excited over a demonstration "run by whites in front of a statue of a president who has been dead for a hundred years and who didn't like us when he was alive." When asked to comment upon
the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he replied that it was a case of "chickens coming home to roost," and added that "Chickens coming home to roost
never made me sad. It only made me glad." This comment led to widespread public outcry and led to the Nation of Islam's publicly
censuring their former shining star. Although retaining his post and rank as minister, Malcolm was banned from public speaking
for 90 days by Elijah Muhammad himself.
Malcolm publicly announced his break from the Nation of Islam on March 8, 1964, and the founding of the Muslim Mosque, Inc. four days later. At this point, Malcolm mostly adhered to the teachings of the Nation of Islam, but began modifying
them, explicitly advocating political and economic black nationalism as opposed to the NOI's religious nationalism. In April, he made a speech titled "The Ballot or the Bullet"
(available online). Malcolm was in contact with several orthodox Muslims, who encouraged him to learn about orthodox Islam. He
soon converted to orthodox Islam, and as a result decided to make his pilgrimage to Mecca.
Pilgrimage to Mecca
On April 13, 1964, Malcolm departed JFK Airport, New York for Cairo by way of Frankfurt. It was the second time Malcolm had been to Africa. On the next leg of his journey, Malcolm left Cairo for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His status as an authentic Muslim was questioned by Saudi authorities due to his inability to speak Arabic and his United States passport. Since only confessing Muslims are allowed into Mecca, he was separated from the group with which he arrived
and was isolated. He spent about 20 hours wearing the ihram, a two-piece garment comprising two white unhemmed sheets.
According to the Autobiography, it was at this time he remembered the book The Eternal Message of
Muhammad by Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam and which Dr. Mahmoud Yousseff Sharwabi had presented to him with his visa approval. He called Azzam's son who
arranged for his release. At the younger Azzam's home he met Azzam Pasha who gave Malcolm his suite at the Jeddah Palace Hotel.
The next morning, Muhammad Faisal, the son of Prince Faisal, visited and informed him that he was to be a state guest. The deputy chief of protocol accompanied Malcolm
to the Hajj Court. He was then allowed to make his pilgrimage.
On April 19, Malcolm completed the Umrah, making the seven circuits around the Kaaba, drinking from the well of Zamzam and running between the hills of Safah and Marwah seven times. According to the Autobiography, on this trip Malcolm viewed Muslims of different races interacting as equals and came to believe that Islam conceivably could erase all racial problems.
Malcolm X visited Africa on three separate occasions, once in 1959 and twice in 1964. During his visits, he
met officials, as well as spoke on television and radio in: Cairo, Egypt; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Dar Es Salaam, Tanganyika (now Tanzania); Lagos and Ibadan, Nigeria; Accra, Winneba, and Legon, Ghana; Conakry, Guinea; Algiers, Algeria; and Casablanca, Morocco.
Malcolm first went to Africa in summer of 1959. He traveled to Egypt (United Arab Republic), Sudan, Nigeria and Ghana to arrange a tour for Elijah Muhammad, which occurred in December 1959. The first of Malcolm's two trips to
Africa in 1964 lasted from April 13 until May 21. On May 8, following his speech at Trenchard Hall on the campus of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, he attended a reception in the Students' Union Hall held for him by the Muslim Students' Society.
During this reception the students bestowed upon him the name "Omowale", meaning "the son returns home" in the Yoruba language.
Malcolm returned to New York from Africa via Paris on May 21, 1964. On July 9, he again left the U.S. for Africa, spending a total of 18 weeks abroad. On July 17, 1964, Malcolm addressed the Organization of African Unity's first ordinary assembly of heads of state and governments in Cairo as a representative of the OAAU. On August 21, 1964, he made a press statement on behalf of the OAAU regarding the second African summit conference of the OAU. In it, he explained how a strong and independent "United States of Africa" is a victory for the awakening of African Americans. By the time he returned to the United States on November 24, 1964, Malcolm had established an international connection between Africans on the continent and those in the diaspora.
Malcolm held to the view that African-Americans were right in defending themselves from aggressors. On June
28, 1964 at the founding rally of the OAAU he said,
- "The time for you and me to allow ourselves to be brutalized nonviolently has passed. Be nonviolent only
with those who are nonviolent to you. And when you can bring me a nonviolent racist, bring me a nonviolent segregationist, then I'll get nonviolent. But don't teach me to be nonviolent until you teach some of those crackers to be nonviolent."
In an interview with Gordon Parks in 1965, Malcolm revealed:
- "I realized racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation
on earth at one time or another. Brother, remember the time that white college girl came into the restaurant — the one
who wanted to help the Muslims and the whites get together — and I told her there wasn't a ghost of a chance and she
went away crying? Well, I've lived to regret that incident. In many parts of the African continent I saw white students helping
black people. Something like this kills a lot of argument. I did many things as a [black] Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I
was a zombie then — like all [black] Muslims — I was hypnotized, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I
guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me 12 years. That was a bad scene,
brother. The sickness and madness of those days — I'm glad to be free of them."
Visiting France and the UK
In late 1964, Malcolm visited France together with Jamaican officials and spoke in Paris at Salle Pleyel where there were discussions and debates on the subject of the
Rastafarian ideas espoused by both the Jamaicans present and Malcolm X at that time. He also visited the UK and participated
in a debate at the Oxford Union on December 3, 1964.
On February 12, 1965, Malcolm visited Smethwick, near Birmingham, which had become a byword for racial division after the 1964 general election when the Conservative Party won the parliamentary seat using the slogan, among others, "If you want a nigger for your neighbour, vote Labour". He visited a pub with a "non-coloured" policy, and purposely visited a street where the local council would buy houses
and sell them to white families, to avoid black families moving in.
Death and afterwards
Malcolm X holding an M1 Carbine
and peering out of a window in 1964. The photo illustrated his intention to defend himself against the frequent death threats
he was receiving.
Tensions increased between Malcolm and the Nation of Islam. It was alleged that orders were given by leaders
of the Nation of Islam to "destroy" Malcolm; in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, he says that as early as 1963, a member
of the Seventh Temple confessed to him having received orders from the Nation of Islam to kill him.
On March 20, 1964, Life published a photograph of Malcolm holding an M1 Carbine and pulling back the curtains to peer out of the window of his family's home. The photo was taken in connection
with Malcolm's declaration that he would defend himself from the daily death threats which he and his family were receiving.
Undercover FBI informants warned officials that he had been marked for assassination.
In June 1964, the NOI sued to reclaim Malcolm's home in Queens, which they claimed to belonged to the organization. The suit was successful, and Malcolm and his family were
ordered to vacate the house. On February 14, 1965, the night before a scheduled hearing to postpone the eviction date, the house burned to the ground. Malcolm
and his family survived, and no one was charged with any crime.
On February 21 in Manhattan's Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm had just begun delivering a speech when a disturbance broke out in the crowd of 400. A man yelled,
"Get your hand outta my pocket! Don't be messin' with my pockets!" As Malcolm and his bodyguards moved to quiet the disturbance, a man rushed forward and shot Malcolm in the chest with a sawed-off shotgun. Two other men charged the stage and fired handguns at Malcolm, who was shot 16 times. Angry onlookers in the
crowd caught and beat the assassins as they attempted to flee the ballroom. Malcolm was pronounced dead on arrival at New
York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
Two suspects were named by witnesses — Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson.
Three men were eventually charged in the case. Talmadge Hayer confessed to having fired shots into Malcolm's body, but he testified that Butler and Johnson were not present
and were not involved in the shooting. All three were convicted.
A complete examination of the assassination and investigation is available in The Smoking Gun: The Malcolm X Files, a collection of primary sources relating to the assassination.
Malcolm's funeral was held in Harlem on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, with 1500 people attending. Ossie Davis, alongside Ahmed Osman, delivered a eulogy, describing Malcolm as "our shining black prince". Malcolm X was buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. At the gravesite after the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried
Malcolm themselves. Later that month, actors Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier became co-chairs of the New York affiliate of the Educational Fund for the Children of Malcolm X Shabazz.
Eddie Hart's Story
I was born in Martinez, California. It’s a little town about thirty miles east of San Francisco known primarily for
its oil refineries. When my father was discharged from the Navy, he went to work for Shell Oil Refinery in Martinez. I was
very young when our family moved away; this was before I started kindergarten. We moved to Port Chicago, about eight miles
east of Martinez.
A few years earlier, during World War II my father was
stationed at the Port Chicago Naval Weapons Station. He, along with many other enlisted Navy men was responsible for loading
ships with the ammunition used in the Pacific. On July 17, 1944, two bombs exploded and literally destroyed one ship and seriously
damaged a second. My father said, “It was the most horrible night of my life.” He thought the world was coming
to an end. One of my father’s fellow service buddies was in the bunk next to him praying harder than he had ever heard
a man pray. My father said that was strange to him, because the guy had made fun of him for praying just a few nights prior
to the incident. Several barracks were flattened, a bus was knocked off the road a mile away, and people living in San Francisco,
some forty miles away felt the blast.
The following morning my father was on detail picking up body parts that were
scattered all over the ground. Three hundred and twenty men perished in the explosion. Whenever I think of that incident,
I realize I came very close to not being born.
When I was eight years old, we moved to Pittsburg, California, just a few miles east
of Port Chicago. Even before we moved to Pittsburg, I discovered that I could run fast. As early as when I was five years
old, I could beat all the kids my age in a race and even some kids older than me. One year during my fathers company picnic,
they changed the time of the races they had for the kids that attended. By the time we arrived the races were over. My dad’s
co-workers all knew I was fast so they had a special race just for me. I won and was awarded a first place ribbon. Even then,
I realized that I had been given a gift, “I could run fast.”
While growing up in Pittsburg I attended elementary, junior
high, and graduated from Pittsburg High School. At the end of each elementary school year the school had competitions, which
included races. That really proved to be a challenge for me. I would get so excited and nervous, that kids would beat me that
I had beaten all year long.
Junior high school was a real turning point for me. The school had a track team that competed against three other schools,
and at the end of the season, they had a Jr high school championship. I was just 13 years old Coach Bert Bannano, my first
real track coach, was hired just prior to my eighth-grade year. That was the year, I decided I wanted to compete in the 100
meters at the Olympics.
I virtually won every race I ran that year. At the championships I won the 75 yd dash, 150
yd dash, the long jump, and I anchored the winning 440 yd relay. I was so proud that the next day I showed my four first place
ribbons to the pastor of my church and to all the members of the congregation.
Although I went on to duplicate that
feat as a junior in high school winning the 100 yd, 200 yd, long jump, and again anchoring the winning 440 yd relay, at the
Conference Championships, I developed a bit slower than a few other speedsters around the state.
As a senior I made
it to the State Meet but I did not fair very well. I would enjoy the type of success that I did earlier until my second year
in Jr College. Following high school I decided to attend Contra Costa Junior College in Richmond, California. As a freshman,
I had some success, but nothing like I had hoped. That year I finished fifth in the 100 yd dash at the State Meet. After the
race, with tears in my eyes, I vowed that I would win the race the following year.
My sophomore year at Contra Costa was one off the bright spots
in my athletic career. I lost the first 100 I ran that year. It was the only time I lost the 100. My second race of the year
in the 100 was just a tenth of a second off the Jr National College Record (9.3). I won conference, Northern California Championships,
and at the State meet I equaled the National Jr Record in the 100yd dash (9.2).
Unfortunately, the race was wind aided,
so I could not stake my claim as one of the record holders. I won the 220 yd dash, we were fourth in the 440 yd relay, our
team placed third, and I was awarded the Most Outstanding Athlete of the meet. That summer while competing in the Pacific
AAU Meet, I broke the National Jr College Record, by a tenth of a second; however, the officials said that because it was
not in a Jr College competition, the record could not stand.
Because I was the #1 ranked sprinter in the country coming
out of junior college, I was offered full athletic scholarships by colleges all over the country. Many of the schools that
recruited me had excellent track programs. However, because of the University of California, Berkeley’s academic history
and distance from home, I decided to accept the scholarship from Cal.
It would prove to be one of the best decisions of my life. Dave Maggard the head track coach
recruited me. I felt if I went to Cal that he would take care of me. We developed a great relationship, one that I still enjoy
today. I was moving up into a tougher arena. Some of my stiffest competition would come from members of my own team; Dave
Masters had gotten second place in the 100 and 200 our senior year at the California High School State Meet, and Isaac Curtis,who
went on to become the great wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Click Here to see Eddie in Cal's All-Time Top 10
That year I won the 100 in the Pacific Eight Conference. Issac and I made history when we finished first and second
in the 100 at NCAA Championships. We also won the 440 relay. I had reached another milestone in my life. I was now a two time
NCAA All American, and we were crowned the NCAA Champions. Later that year I made the US National Team, competing in France,
Russia and Germany. I ran on the relay in those meets. My senior year at Cal was more difficult. We were stripped of our National
team title, because one member of the team had not properly taken the SAT test.
In the middle of the season while coming out of the blocks, I pulled a muscle. I was out of competition
for six weeks, missing the conference meet. I placed second in the 100 at the NCAA meet but I made a critical mistake. I decided
to change my block setting for the final race. It was a costly mistake and one that I would never make again.
Following my senior year 1972, I was hired by Dave Maggard, as a graduate assistant track coach
at Cal, he was promoted to Athletic Director. My training for the Olympics went well. At the West Coast Relays I missed the100m
World Record by only a tenth of a second (10.0), I won the 200 at the California Relays, and I won the 100 and 200 at the
Kennedy Games, one the major meets in the country. A couple weeks after the Kennedy Games while competing in the US Championships,
I pulled a muscle again. It was just three weeks prior to the Olympic Trials. It was not as bad as the pull the year before.
The question was would I have enough time to recover for the Trials?
When I arrived at the Olympic Trials, I did not
know what to expect. I was unable to do block starts for three weeks. The one thing that I could hold onto was, I wanted it
more than anything. Just ten years after I deciding, when I was in junior high school, that I wanted to go to the Olympics,
I found myself standing behind my blocks in the finals of the 100 at the Olympic Trials. It was the greatest race of my life.
I was now an Olympic Trail Champion, World Record Holder, and most of all, I was now an Olympian. I was realizing my dream.
Because of a scheduling mix-up, I was not able to accomplish my goal at the Olympics in the 100,
however, I anchored the winning 400 Relay team to a world record. I was now a two-time World Record Holder, Olympic Record
Holder, and Olympic Goal Medalist.
After the Olympics I returned to Cal, and was hired as one of the
assistant track coaches. At that time, Erv Hunt had been named as the head coach.
After the track season in 1973, I married my high school sweetheart,
Gwen Carter. Gwen and I had been dating for several years; we have now been married for thirty-three years. Our daughter Paris
lives with us and my son Ed who is also a Cal graduate has been married for five years. He and his wife Reina, also both Cal
grads had their first child, Eddie Hart III, which makes me a grandfather. After five years as the assistant coach at Cal,
I was offered and took the head coaching and Physical Education Instructor position at the College of Alameda. I have worked
in the Jr college system for more than twenty years; I retired some time ago but have continued to work as assistant to Nate
Slaughter, the coach of the track club I competed on following my college experience. * I stayed in good shape long after
the Olympics. One day while Gwen was visiting me at the school she noticed a flyer on the bulletin board, announcing a track
meet for coaches at a college not far from were I lived. She said,” You should run in the meet.” I decided to
go for it. I won the 100 and the 200. That really didn’t surprise me, I was running against guys that had not run track
in their younger days. However, what did surprise me were my times. They were not much different than the times I was running
during the Olympic year. Nate Slaughter, my old track club coach, heard about me running in the meet, and gave me a call.
He said, “You are still fast enough to run on our relay team.” It was in the middle of the track season, and just
a couple of weeks before the West Coast Relays. I agreed to run on the relay team in the meet.
I was still coaching
Alameda and would be at the meet anyway. After giving it some additional thought I ask Nate to enter me in the 100. We ran
the 800 relay, and I won the 100, but I was so exhausted after the 800 relay, I could not run the 400 relay. Later that year
the US had its first Sports Festival, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The competition consisted of dividing the country into
four regions. I was asked to compete in the 100 and the 400 relay for the Western Region. I accepted the invitation. We were
second in the 400 relay, and I won the 100, equaling the world’s best time that year. After only running a few races
during the second half of the track season, I was ranked as one of the top ten sprinters in the world for that year. I ran
a few more races the following couple of years, and decided to call it quits.
I continued to stay in good shape. During this time I met Mark Grubi,
he was involved with Master’s Track. As I started approach the age to compete as a master, he encouraged me to train
for competition. The same year I turned Master’s age (40), the World Masters Championships were being held in Eugene
Oregon. I loved that track. It was where I had equaled the world’s record, and became an Olympian. It would be worth
it, just to make the trip.
At that time, my son Ed was about eleven years old. We had a 22 foot
motor home. I decided that he and I would drive up to the meet. It was a well organized and very exciting meet. There were
over five thousand master athletes there to compete. I ran into a few guys from the old track days. While we were there one
evening watching TV they did a special on the meet. There were posters in the stores and around town. I won the 100 and 200.
Some of the athletes wanted me to run a relay with them but I declined Ed and I was ready to get back home to see Gwen and
Paris. Running the relay would mean staying a couple more days. Later that year at a Masters meet at Cal, broke the world
record in the 100 (10.87?). I had never competed indoors as a master; I thought it might be fun to give it a try.
The following winter I ran the 60 meters at the US Masters Indoor Championships, in Madison Wisconsin.
I got a terrible start coming from behind to win; I also broke the master world record. After that I ran few more years, but
it has been some time now since I have competed. The only exception; I ran the 100 at the Modesto Relays. I broke the world record for my age group,
but once again the race was wind-aided, so it was not allowed.
I have been living with my family in Pittsburg for the past 12 years. Now that I have reached
my goals and dreams, I believe it is time for me to help the youth in the surrounding community to develop and attain their
goals and dreams. That’s why I felt compelled to start the Eddie Hart All In One Foundation so I could use my name,
influence, relationships and resources to make a positive difference in the lives of youngter.
C. DIANE HOWELL, Ph.D.
CEO, Black Expo Ltd
Publisher, Black Business Listings
Howell graduated from Hyde Park High School in Chicago and went on to attend Barnard College, Columbia University
in New York City where she received her B.A. in Psychology. Determined to go to school and see the world, she then headed
for Berkeley, CA where she attended the University of California at Berkeley and became, to her knowledge, the first Black
woman to receive a Ph.D. from the Psychology Department at the University. Upon graduation she became licensed as a psychologist
and opened a part-time private practice.
As a graduate student, Howell became active in the Bay Area Association of Black Psychologists and in 1983
she was elected president of the Association. Recognizing a need to increase the visibility of the Black psychologists in
the Bay Area Black community, Howell asked one of the members to start a newsletter for the organization. The member agreed
but did not follow through. So, in a characteristic manner, Howell decided she, herself, would publish the newsletter. Howell
first published her first issue of Black Perspectives in newsprint in January of 1984.
In early 1989 Howell followed her strong desire to do something to promote African American businesses. With
no capital reserves, she founded the Black Business Listings (BBL). Originally published bi-monthly, Howell started publishing
BBL 10 times a year in 1990. Although when she first started BBL Howell continued to do her private practice as a psychologist,
she soon found that the publication demanded more time and energy than she could give while maintaining a full-time private
practice. She decided to stop accepting new clients and was soon a full-time publisher.
Throughout the last 15 years, Howell has been determined to promote African American economic development
in every way conceivable. She has sponsored monthly networking breakfasts (which are now free and co-sponsored by the Associated
Real Property Brokers) to encourage networking among African Americans in business. She served as the local coordinator for
the Black Expo USA for the 5 years it was held in Oakland, and she has been a popular speaker throughout the community, always
advocating the self-empowerment of the African American community.
Nine years ago Black Expo USA took Oakland off its national schedule and Howell decided to take on the full
responsibility for producing Black Expo. Since that time she has grown the event to be a multifaceted program with something
for everyone. Since 1997 Black Expo weekend begins with the African American Excellence in Business Awards and Scholarship
Gala which honors small businesses and major corporations for their excellence in business, particularly in relation to the
African American community. The proceeds from the gala go to the non-profit SEEDS (Self-Empowerment through Education Entrepreneurship
and Dreams) which was founded by Howell in 1997. SEEDS has sponsored Young Entrepreneur Programs Expo weekend, is responsible
for the coordination of the College Day Program at Black Expo (in conjunction with the Historical Black College and University
Alumni organization), and has given out over $25,000 in scholarships since its inception.
||Dr. C. Diane Howell is the producer
of Black Expo 2007. She is also the publisher of the Black Business Listings* newspaper. A psychologist by training, Howell
has been coordinating the Black Expo in Oakland since 1990. For the first five years she coordinated the event for the national
Black Expo USA. In 1996, when Black Expo USA took Oakland off its schedule she took over as the owner of the event. Since
that time Howell has focused on "raising the bar" and creating a well-produced, multi-faceted, much anticipated event that
has something to offer everyone.
||*The Black Business Listings is a monthly newspaper featuring listings of businesses, African Americans in major corporations
and public agencies (Corporate Corner), an extensive calendar of events (Africalendar), Business and Job Opportunities, an
extensive Resource Listing and more.|
FANNIE LOU HAMER
"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."
Born October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer was the granddaughter
of a slave and the youngest of 20 children. Her parents were sharecroppers. Sharecropping, or "halfing," as it is sometimes
called, is a system of farming whereby workers are allowed to live on a plantation in return for working the land. When the
crop is harvested, they split the profits in half with the plantation owner. Sometimes the owner pays for the seed and fertilizer,
but usually the sharecropper pays those expenses out of his half. It's a hard way way to make a living and sharecroppers generally
are born poor, live poor, and die poor.
At age six, Fannie Lou began helping her parents in the cotton fields. By the time she was twelve, she was
forced to drop out of school and work full time to help support her family. Once grown, she married another sharecropper named
Perry "Pap" Hamer.
On August 31, 1962, Mrs. Hamer decided she had had enough of sharecropping. Leaving her house in Ruleville,
MS she and 17 others took a bus to the courthouse in Indianola, the county seat, to register to vote. On their return home,
police stopped their bus. They were told that their bus was the wrong color. Fannie Lou and the others were arrested and jailed.
After being released from jail, the plantation owner paid the Hamers a visit and told Fannie Lou that if she
insisted on voting, she would have to get off his land - even though she had been there for eighteen years. She left the plantation
that same day. Ten days later, night riders fired 16 bullets into the home of the family with whom she had gone to stay.
Mrs. Hamer began working on welfare and voter registration programs for the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
On June 3, 1963, Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights workers arrived in Winona, MS by bus. They were ordered
off the bus and taken to Montgomery County Jail. The story continues "...Then three white men came into my room. One was a
state highway policeman (he had the marking on his sleeve)... They said they were going to make me wish I was dead. They made
me lay down on my face and they ordered two Negro prisoners to beat me with a blackjack. That was unbearable. The first prisoner
beat me until he was exhausted, then the second Negro began to beat me. I had polio when I was about six years old. I was
limp. I was holding my hands behind me to protect my weak side. I began to work my feet. My dress pulled up and I tried to
smooth it down. One of the policemen walked over and raised my dress as high as he could. They beat me until my body was hard,
'til I couldn't bend my fingers or get up when they told me to. That's how I got this blood clot in my eye - the sight's nearly
gone now. My kidney was injured from the blows they gave me on the back."
Mrs Hamer was left in the cell, bleeding and battered, listening to the screams of Ann Powder, a fellow civil
rights worker, who was also undergoing a severe beating in another cell. She overheard white policemen talking about throwing
their bodies into the Big Black River where they would never be found.
In 1964, presidential elections were being held. In an effort to focus greater national attention on voting
discrimination, civil rights groups created the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). This new party sent a delegation,
which included Fannie Lou Hamer, to Atlantic City, where the Democratic Party was holding its presidential convention. Its
purpose was to challenge the all-white Mississippi delegation on the grounds that it didn't fairly represent all the people
of Mississippi, since most black people hadn't been allowed to vote.
Fannie Lou Hamer spoke to the Credentials Committee of the convention about the injustices that allowed an
all-white delegation to be seated from the state of Mississippi. Although her live testimony was pre-empted by a presidential
press conference, the national networks aired her testimony, in its entirety, later in the evening. Now all of America heard
of the struggle in Mississippi's delta.
A compromise was reached that gave voting and speaking rights to two delegates from the MFDP and seated the
others as honored guests. The Democrats agreed that in the future no delegation would be seated from a state where anyone
was illegally denied the vote. A year later, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
Prior to her death in 1977, Fannie Lou Hamer was inducted into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, as an honorary
Enter supporting content here