The Stories That Caught My “I”
Upon reading about the release of Thomas Hagan who is now 69, it brought a strange feeling to my spirit. I didn’t know how to feel or what I am really feeling.
Hagan is one of the men who killed Human Rights Leader Malcolm X. Many things came to my mind about Hagan and the way Malcolm was killed on a February day while giving a speech at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom.
I thought about the many years he has been housed in the Lincoln Correctional Facility located at the intersection of West 110th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard. Every time he saw the street signs. I wonder what he was thinking?
I also thought about how he shot and killed Malcolm in front of his wife and children. Other thoughts came to my mind such as how Hagen continues to insist that the other two men convicted and sentenced for Malcolm’s murder, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Kahlil Islam, were not the two men who were with him during the assasination. They too have been released.
I wonder how for 22 years of his sentence, he was able to go to work, stay home with his family five days a week and do his time on the weekend, after admitting his crime?
If you haven’t read “Roots” author Alex Hailey’s famous autobiography of Malcolm, you don’t know that before becoming the iconic figure he was, Malcolm was a victim of the streets and its various vices. While in prison for burlery, Malcolm found and accepted Islam. From his time in the Nation of Islam as its official spokesperson until his death, Malcolm evolved into a leader for Black people, particularly for young Black people of the ‘60s.
During his evolution as a Muslim, Malcolm learned a self-love that he was able to spread to Black people all over the world, giving us a sense of self-pride and dignity. Many loved his candor and fiery delivery of words that challenged and called out white America on its less than human treatment of Black people.
Malcolm’s voice was raised at a time when Black people were still being lynched and killed based on the color of their skin. He also called out his own people, demanding that we stop shuffling and dancing and stand up and be men and women, and become good mothers and fathers. He became an icon in communities all over America.
Hagan was the only one to admit to killing Malcolm in the 1965 assassination and was sentenced to 20 years to life. Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Kahlil Islam were also sentenced for the murder.
During his latter years in the Nation a rift grew between Malcolm and NOI leader Elijah Muhammad, which was sparked by his remarks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Muhammad sanctioned Malcolm, forbidding him to speak on behalf of the Nation. Other differences grew between him and the Nation of Islam, forcing Malcolm to break away and start his own organization.
I guess I really wonder what kind of man Hagan is now? He says that he was a young man who got caught up and did something that never should have happened. While in prison Hagan earned a master’s degree in sociology. He described his role in the murder (in a 2008 court filing) as the deed of a young man who “acted out of rage, on impulse and loyalty” to religious leaders. He says he now understands better about himself and the politics of religion and a movement.
I wonder if he thinks about what he did to Black America when he killed Malcolm? Did he realize that he killed a man who truly loved Black people? Who put his life on the line daily, fighting the world for our and his right to be treated as human beings with dignity. Again, I don’t know how I’m feeling about this.
Many of Malcolm’s followers are expressing soft outraged and feeling a bit like me. Many are asking the question if Malcolm had been a white icon, would Hagan be out of jail? As a reporter, I have a thousand questions for Hagan that I feel he probably will never answer. But I would sure like to ask.
Again, I-Witness doesn’t know how she feels about this. I keep trying to put it in words. I sort of feel as if Hagan took something from me or that I lost something when he killed Malcolm.
I know in my heart I don’t have the power to hate or punish, but confusion isn’t a good thing either. God is not the author of these ills. And I would never want to get in trouble with my Creator.
But I wonder if Malcolm would say that Hagan’s transformation in prison, like his own, represents a debt paid? Was it enough that he has apologized? That he is trying to be a productive citizen in society today? Is it enough that he has a family that he is trying to love and do right by even though he took that away from Malcolm’s children? I wonder what he has told his children?
More and more I think I’m feeling as if I lost something. Sadness overcame me after I read about Hagan’s release. I don’t know if it is for me, Malcolm’s family, America or for Hagan.
Lora Rae Anderson:
I love it when white people fight each other about race. Perhaps more of them should fight about race. After all it’s their mental illness and if more of them fight about it just maybe their fights could lead to real discussion among them about race that can change America for the better.
Recently, Lora Rae Anderson, who is a white a college student and the newly elected chairperson of the new College Republican leadership on the Eau Clare campus, attended the State Republican Party Convention. She promised in a speech to party members that she would help build a more solid relationship with the State Republican Party and the county caucuses.
It was a short lived relationship and honeymoon because Anderson released a press statement after the convention in which she tendered her resignation and, in essence, calling the state Republican party racists. She explained that one of the state GOP leaders “used a cultural insult and racial slurs
“I will not be renewing my membership in the Eau County Republican Party or the Republican Party of Wisconsin for the year 2010.” She called out some folks too, such as Congressional candidate Sean Duffy who agreed to appear at a Wisconsin Tea Party rally where white supremacist “Col.” John Eidsmoe was scheduled to speak. And she singled out Brian Westrate, a Sean Duffy supporter and Eau Claire County Republican Party Chairman, accusing him of associating with racial intolerance.
Anderson denounced Tea Party race-based politics, citing she is a progressive person. “Racial slurs obviously don’t sit well with me, but when somebody knowingly racially slurs my friends, I am personally insulted” She further blasted the state party for racial intolerance, calling it too “extreme” and saying that it is “alienating a younger, more progressive generation.”
All I-Witness can say is, you go girl! It is white people like you that can begin to change the world. While most folks look at racism as it is, for what it is and cut its ugly head off.
Anderson parents did a good job of teaching her the difference between right and wrong and teaching her to respond to evil when she sees it or it will conquer the world.
If we allow racism to win, tomorrow it will be all folks with red hair or green eyes who will discriminated against. Whether something is right or wrong is the question that all human beings should challenge themselves on, especially when it comes to race.
Lora Rae Anderson, thank you for daring to stand on it and call them out. It takes courageous people like you to stand up, even if it means standing alone against injustices.
Keep advancing your kind of generation, it’s the only way we can change the world. You are I-Witness’s hero for the week. Atten-tion Salute!
Immigration Law in Arizona
Whether Black people agree or not, we must support Latinos in their battle against Arizona’s new Immigration Law that will go into effect in 90 days.
The bill was introduced in the state house in Arizona after a rancher in that state was killed by what was believed was an illegal alien and smuggler who had crossed the border from Mexico.
Governor Jan Brewer signed the bill into law almost two weeks ago and it has outraged the nation because it gives police the power to stop and detain anyone that appears to even look like they are Latino.
It further states that Latinos must now carry at all times their immigration papers to show that they are legally in this country.
While I understand all folks in this country need to be here legally, Arizona’s introduction of an Apartheid system to be the remedy to the immigration problem.
Under an Apartheid System, one has no freedom of movement without permission the non-white person must show identification just to go to the store if asked or risk jail or murder.
The second reason we cannot support this kind of legislation that gives police unlimited powers. Yes, we all know some good cops but to give them the” just cause they can” power will result in many deaths.
The third reason, if we allow this to happen to Latinos, how long before this kind of legislation reaches Black communities? We have been there before. Remember slavery and Jim Crow, the old style “American Apartheid”? We can never ever allow it to happen again.
I found it rather funny that Gov. Brewer said racial profiling would not be tolerated, adding: “We have to trust our law enforcement.” Racial profiling is no joke. Ride up and down the streets on any given day here in Milwaukee and watch how young Black males are stopped for walking down the street.
Governor Brewer also said that folks will get over the passage of the new law. How dare she! Here she is, re-introducing a form of Jim Crow Apartheid and she says we will get over it.
Arizona is the same state that refused to make Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday a state holiday.
This is where voting becomes really important. Unfortunately many Latinos, just like Black people, don’t seem to take this exercise in democracy seriously. But now is the time to organize all over this nation because when one looks at the big picture, this kind of laws will snowball into more laws that increasingly restrict our freedom of movement, just like Aparthied.
We must always remember that “An injustice to one is an injustice to us all.
Today Latinos! Will it be Black people tomorrow. This is a fight that we as Black people can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.