Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X waiting for press conference, March 26, 1964. (Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X waiting for press conference, March 26, 1964. (Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

As this country moves towards a critical election year, it’s time for Black folks to pay closer attention to the guidance of two 20th-century master teachers of whom many of us claim to be supporters. Those two were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Brother Malcolm X.

Both visionary leaders offered concrete guidance on how we can most effectively protect and promote our economic and political interests in a society in which huge numbers of people will do anything they can to suppress us.

Dr. King, in his book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” stated, “Black Power in its broad and positive meaning, is a call to Black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals. Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power. … Black Power is also call for the pulling of Black financial resources to achieve economic security. While the ultimate answer to the Negroes’ economic dilemma will be found in a massive federal program for all of the poor along the lines A. Philip Randolph’s Freedom Budget, a kind of Marshall Plan for the disadvantaged, there is something that the Negro himself can do to throw off the shackles of poverty. Although the Negro is still at the bottom of the economic ladder, his collective annual income is upwards of $30 billion. This gives him a considerable buying power that can make the difference between the profit and loss of many businesses. Through the pulling of such resources and the development of habits of thrift and techniques of wise investment, the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation. If Black Power means the development of this kind of strength within the Negro community, then it is a quest for basic, necessary, legitimate power.”

Brother Malcolm was equally profound as evidenced by the following quote: “We propose to support and-or organize political clubs to run independent candidates for office and to support any Afro-American already in office who answers to and is responsible to the Afro-American community. … And in this manner, the organizations will increase in numbers and quality. By August, it is our intention to have a Black nationalists convention which will consist of delegates from all over the country who are interested in the political, economic and social philosophy of Black nationalism. After these delegates convene, we will listen to everyone. We want to hear new ideas and new solutions. The political philosophy of Black nationalism means the Black man should control the politics and the politicians in his own community. The Black man in the Black community has to be re-educated into the science of politics so he will know what politics is supposed to bring him in return. Don’t be throwing out any ballots. A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target and if that target is not within your reach then keep your ballot in your pocket.”

We must ask ourselves where we would be as a group of people if we had listened to and acted on the guidance of the two master teachers whom we claim to love, honor and respect.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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