‘Malcolm X’ Film Panel Discusses Importance of Activist’s Life, Work

Jarred Hubbard

As Black History Month is underway,Manchester hosted a panel to discuss the “Malcolm X” film on Thursday, February 18. This film was released in 1992, Malcolm X was played by Denzel Washington, and the movie was directed by Spike Lee.

The movie shows how the controversial Black activist and leader Malcolm X transforms from a nobody to a powerful world-renowned black Muslim leader in the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad, the first leader of the Nation of Islam. This movie highlights the rise and falls of Malcolm X and every obstacle that took him from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X. This movie also highlights the obstacles that are taking place in the Black community.

Virginia Rendler, Peace Studies coordinator, served as the host for this panel consisting of students Najma El and Fatu Kaba, and history professor Michael Staudenmaier. “It was my first time seeing this movie even though it came out 29 years ago,” Rendler said. “It really enlightened me how courageous of a man that Malcolm was; he is a prime example that it’s not about where you start, it’s about where you finish.”

Then the panelists began to share their observations. “Malcolm X was a great man,” El noted. “He and Martin Luther King were the essence of trailblazers, and even though their methods were different, their principles as men of color fighting for change and equality were the same.”

The first question that came up for the panelists asked them what was the main social problem in the African American community. El responded. “We as people have been brainwashed and oppressed to the point to where some of us don’t want to see each other shine and do remarkable things,” she said. “We hate on each other, Black women are being unappreciated, and we have still not gotten the respect that we deserve.”

Kaba followed up, agreeing with El. “Where does the love come in and where does the hate end?” she asked. “We need to love; we have been taught to hate but we are at the point that we need to love each other more than ever before.”

Professor Staudenmaier connected the film to the students’ comments. “With me being a white man,” he began, “I have seen, and I am aware of the African American race being underappreciated and under resourced. This movie proved it even more. Being based in Harlem where it is predominantly Black, this movie brings light to these situations; something needs to be done.”

This film and panel not only shed light on the importance of icons like Malcolm, Martin, and Rosa Parks, but also shows that this movie is speaking on everything that is going on in present day 2021. El said: “Malcolm X I feel has a bigger impact on our culture because he wasn’t with letting people put their hands on you and do terrible things to you, He was realist and told us to defend ourselves but to be smart in the process and to not start confrontation but to only finish it if it gets to that point.”

Kaba agreed. “I love Malcolm X,” she said.” I have a few of his books and I read them quite a bit so for me he is a special person to me. How I came up, being from Africa, he is definitely my hero and my Icon.”

Staudenmaier stated: “Even though I didn’t like his delivery I still respected him and his commitment to his beliefs and his willingness to learn, even when he went and toured the Middle East and discovered that everyone was living amongst each other and enjoying each other against what he had been preaching to everyone in the U.S.”