On this day in 1925 the American Negro rights activist Malcolm X was born.
His family name was Little, but he called himself Malcolm X to symbolise the loss of his true African name when his forbears were taken into slavery. He converted to Islam and joined the Nation of Islam movement that advocated segregation and violent means to achieve their goals. He eventually became disenchanted and left to join the moderate and ancient Sufi sect.
His acrimonious falling out with the Nation of Islam (who viewed him as a traitor) caused strong feelings. In 1965 in New York, he was assassinated by three members of the movement. Today he is seen as great leader in the struggle for racial equality, a man whose methods were not always right but whose intentions were basically good. This poem, by A E Housman, Be Still My Soul about an unquiet soul, could refer to him:
Be still, my soul, be still; the arms you bear are brittle,
Earth and high heaven are fixt of old and founded strong
Think rather,—call to thought, if now you grieve a little,
The days when we had rest, O soul, for they were long.
Men loved unkindness then, but lightless in the quarry
I slept and saw not; tears fell down, I did not mourn;
Sweat ran and blood sprang out and I was never sorry:
Then it was well with me, in days ere I was born.
Now, and I muse for why and never find the reason,
I pace the earth, and drink the air, and feel the sun.
Be still, be still, my soul; it is but for a season:
Let us endure an hour and see injustice done.
Ay, look: high heaven and earth ail from the prime foundation
All thoughts to rive the heart are here, and all are vain:
Horror and scorn and hate and fear and indignation—
Oh why did I awake? When shall I sleep again?
To listen to this poem, click here –
Today I will remember the words of Tennyson: “Men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things” (In Memoriam).