Fighting for Our Place in the Sun

Malcolm X and the Radicalization of the Black Student Movement 1960–1973

by Richard Benson (Author)
©2015 Textbook XX, 304 Pages


In Fighting for Our Place in the Sun, Richard D. Benson II examines the life of Malcolm X as not only a radical political figure, but also as a teacher and mentor. The book illuminates the untold tenets of Malcolm X’s educational philosophy, and also traces a historical trajectory of Black activists that sought to create spaces of liberation and learning that are free from cultural and racial oppression. It explains a side of the Black student movement and shift in black power that develops as a result of the student protests in North Carolina and Duke University. From these acts of radicalism, Malcolm X Liberation University (MXLU), the Student Organization for Black Unity (SOBU/YOBU), and African Liberation Day (ALD) were produced to serve as catalysts to extend the tradition of Black activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Scholars, researchers, community organizers, and students of African-American studies, American studies, history of education, political science, Pan-African studies, and more will benefit from this provocative and enlightening text.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Fighting for Our Place in the Sun
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations Used in the Text
  • Abbreviations Used in Notes
  • College and University Archives, Special Collections, Campus Periodicals, Community Periodicals, and Research Venues
  • Introduction
  • Notes
  • 1 Malcolm X and/as Social Pedagogy: A Critical Historical Analysis
  • A Malcolm X Philosophy of Education: A Critically Interpretive Historical Methodology
  • Minister Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam (NOI): Organizational Growth and Educational Structure
  • Malcolm X: Scholar and Educational Philosophy
  • Malcolm X’s Educational Philosophy: The Importance of History
  • Malcolm X’s Philosophy of Education: Personal Appeal
  • Malcolm X: An Expansive Educational Philosophy
  • Malcolm X: Education as a “Call to Work”: Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU)
  • Malcolm X and the Black Student Movement
  • Notes
  • 2 Sowing the Wind to Reap a Whirlwind: Ideological Shifts and Radical Expressions in the Black Student Movement, 1963–1966
  • 1964 ASM Conference on Black Nationalism
  • A Chance Meeting in Africa: Malcolm X and SNCC
  • The Black Student Movement and the Death of a Prophet
  • Solidifying a Change of Direction: The Black Student Movement, SNCC, and Black Power
  • Notes
  • 3 Purges, Proscriptions, and New Directions: Black Student Protests and a Call for a Black University, 1966–1969
  • Black Student Protest and a Call for Black Studies
  • The Black Student Movement and Duke University
  • Duke University and Black Student Protest: The Allen Building Takeover
  • Leadership Dynamism: Introduction of Howard Fuller
  • Black Power in North Carolina: Establishing MXLU, SOBU, and the FCD Grant Controversy
  • Notes
  • 4 Uhuru Na Kazi (Freedom and Hard Work)! The Historical Developments of Malcolm X Liberation University, 1969–1972
  • MXLU Planning Stages and Episcopalian Grant Controversy
  • MXLU: Opening Day Ceremonies
  • MXLU Operations, 1969–1970
  • MXLU Operations, 1970–1971
  • Pre-Text to an MXLU Ideological Shift: Owusu Sadaukai (Howard Fuller) Inside Mozambique
  • MXLU Operations, 1971–1972
  • MXLU Operations, 1971–1972: Palmer Memorial Institute Controversy
  • MXLU Operations, 1971–1972 Continued: In Preparation for ALD
  • Notes
  • 5 Malcolm X Liberation University: Planning, Curriculum, Projects, and Institutional Objectives
  • Background: Historical Antecedents of Malcolm X Liberation University
  • The Structure of Malcolm X Liberation University
  • The Theoretical and Ideological Basis of Malcolm X Liberation University
  • MXLU’s Community Education and Teacher Training Programs
  • The Curriculum and Related Projects of Malcolm X Liberation University
  • Part A
  • History
  • The Development of Black Political Thought
  • African Languages and MXLU’s Floating Swahili Program
  • Cultural Expression
  • Speech
  • Analysis of the Colonized Mind
  • Physical Development
  • Part B
  • Biomedics
  • Communications Technology
  • MLXU Engineering Department and Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Construction Engineering
  • Agriculture
  • SOBU’s Pan-African Work Program and the Pan-African Skills Project (PASP)
  • Notes
  • 6 Working for African Liberation with the Student Organization for Black Unity: Historical Developments, Programs, and Activity, 1969–1971
  • On the Road to Establishment: SOBU’s Interim Development Period
  • SOBU Operations, Programs, and Organizational Activity, 1970–1972
  • SOBU’s Organizational and Structural Development, 1970–1972
  • SOBU Training and Ideological Development, 1970–1972
  • SOBU Community Programs 1970–1972
  • SOBU Campus Programs, 1970–1972
  • SOBU Pan-African Affairs, 1970–1972
  • SOBU Informational Services, 1970–1972
  • Notes
  • 7 A Movement of the People … African People: African Liberation Day, the Decline of MXLU, and Left Pan-Africanism of YOBU, 1972–1973
  • Preparing for African Liberation Day (ALD) 1972: SOBU and MXLU Activities
  • African Liberation Day 1972: “WE ARE AN AFRICAN PEOPLE!!!”
  • Riding the ALD Wave of Momentum: MXLU, SOBU, and the Founding of the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC)
  • Establishing the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC)
  • MXLU, YOBU, and ALSC Operations and Activity: University Decline and Ideological Shifts, 1972–1973
  • SOBU Becomes YOBU
  • MXLU and YOBU Activity, 1972–1973: Institutional Completion and New Directions
  • Reporting to the Motherland: ALD’s Response in Nigeria and Tanzania
  • Phasing Down Operations: MXLU’s Decline
  • The Struggle Continues: YOBU and the Save Black Schools Campaign
  • Expansion of a Mass Movement: African Liberation Day, 1973
  • The Closing of MXLU: Lessons Learned and New Directions
  • Notes
  • Epilogue
  • Synthesis and Conclusions: Examining Ideological and Historical Threads
  • Notes
  • Illustrations
  • Index
  • Series Index



This book extends from the many individuals who provided their selfless contributions to ensure its success. To the Most High God, Yeshua/Jesus, through whom all things are made possible, thank you for the strength and fortitude that allowed me to endure through the toughest of times. I am forever grateful.

To my series editors Richard Greggory Johnson III and Rochelle Brock, acquisitions editor Chris Myers, production supervisor Jackie Pavlovic, and the entire production staff at Peter Lang, thank you for all of your great work and support throughout this process.

My time spent in the department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as a graduate student was life changing and significant in my quest to become a critical historian. Thank you to James D. Anderson (Doc), Laurence Parker, and Chris Span for challenging me and for providing a space to think and grow. To Yoon Pak, my dissertation chair and good friend, thank you for never discouraging my ideas and for allowing me to test the boundaries of history and research in my work. I am forever grateful to my EPS mentors. To David O. Stovall, Chamara Jewel Kwakye, and Kamau Rashid, thank you for providing inspiration and for always having an ear to lend for the many ideas that have come my way. To Sammie Eames (God bless your life) you are sorely missed. I will forever cherish your words of wisdom and your ← ix | x → tutelage in my early years of teaching at Francis Parkman. Thank you for always being a friend. To Abdul Alkalimat of the UIUC Department of African American Studies (DAAS), thanks for your time and resources on this project; your mentoring on this work really meant a lot. To Sundiata Cha-Jua, thank you for your support through my time at UIUC. DAAS always provided a home and a space for critical scholarly engagement.

To Bob Brown, thank you for being a valuable mentor and for adding to my scholarly and life’s development. This project greatly improved due to our many conversations. Thank you good brother. Thank you to William Macklin for your editing expertise on this project. This project benefited greatly from your countless reviews of the drafts of this work.

To the faculty and staff of the Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies and the former Communiversity of Chicago: Conrad Worrill (thank you for the major push), Robert Starks, Yvonne Jones, Lance Williams, and Rosetta Cash, thank you for all of your time and for my grounding in this work through my time spent at the Center. I am forever grateful to the academic grounding I received at CCICS. To Anderson Thompson of the CCICS, your guidance and wisdom have been critical in my work. I can never repay you for all the aid you provided me through this entire process, but I will always remain dedicated to the tradition of educating our people in the legacy of the “Communiversity” way. To the ancestors Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers and Professor Leon Harris of the Center, my time spent in your courses remains highlights of my time at the Center, thank you.

I would like to thank to my colleagues at Spelman College in the Education Studies Program: Andrea Lewis, Venetta Coleman, Nicole Taylor, Christine King-Farris, Barbara Prince, Addie Sopshire-Rolle, Adesi Canaglia-Brown: I thank you all for supporting my work. To the administrative assistant of the Education Studies Program, Laurisa Claytor, thanks so much for your helping to keep me organized during this process. To my student research assistants, Jamie Gray, Chardenay Davis, Rashad Moore, thank you for being diligent and organized assistants during the many phases of this work. You are greatly appreciated. Thank you to my colleagues and friends at Spelman College who provided encouragement during the many phases of this project: Myra Burnett, Cynthia Spence, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, M. Bahati Kuumba, Desiree Pedescleaux, Geneva Baxter, Marionette Holmes, Dallia De Sousa-Sheppard, Bruce Wade, Erica Williams, Mona Phillips, Charnelle Holloway, Abayomi Ola, Veta Goler, Donna Akiba Harper, Michelle Hite, Opal Moore, Calaya Reid, Kathleen Phillips-Lewis, Dimeji Togunde, Joycelyn Wilson, Rosetta Ross, Al-Yasha Williams, Dorian Crosby, Marilyn Davis, Tinaz Pavri, Angela Farris Watkins, Juanchella ← x | xi → Grooms Francis, Kai McCormack, Kesi Miller, and Shani Harris. Thank you to the support staff of UNCF/Mellon housed on Spelman’s campus, Ada Jackson and Gabrielle Samuel-O’Brien; you both helped tremendously since my time at Spelman. Thank you to the provost’s staff who provided great support at Spelman: Sonya Morris, Dianne Whyte, Beverly Walker, Karla Williams, Cynthia Hudson, and Joya Marshall. To President Beverly Daniel Tatum and Provost Johnnella Butler, thank you so much for all of your support with my work. My time and development at Spelman have been invaluable and I have grown immensely because of you all, thank you.

To my family at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Stephen Fullwood and Andre Elizee/Daniel Simidor (God bless your life, you will be missed so much, good brother), thank you so much for all the help you gave me on my countless visits to the archives. To Sister Nurah-Jeter, I owe you so much for all the help you have given through the data collection process at the Schomburg. Thank you, Stephen and Andre for being very genuine people. Very special thanks to Joellen ElBashir of Howard University’s Moorland Spingarn Research Center.

I applaud my community that stood by me through this journey and continues to keep me accountable in my scholarship and teaching: Dionne Danns, Mary Ann Reed, Otima Doyle, Kimberly Johnson, Cherise Boulware, Ingrid Benson-Brown, Regina Walton, Zada Johnson, Chandra Gill, Brent G. Grant, Rashid Robinson, Julie Griffin, Robert Anthony Ward, Clarence Lang, Nick Gaffney, Edward Mills, Olanipekun Laosebikan, Mirelsie Velazquez, Melba Schneider, Jon Hale, and Crystal Thomas. To Joycelyn Landrum-Brown Manvel Robinson, Natasha McPherson, Rocio Contreras, Jacqueline Tabor, Richard Smith, Jamila Canady, Betty Strickland, Sheri Davis-Faulkner, Sis. Eshe Faizah, Ronelle DeShazer, Medina Nance, Linda Hollomon, Veronica Anthony, Fox Brown Fox, Fredara Hadley, Maria Armstrong, Tangee Allen, Stan Thangaraj, Steve Paris, Andrea Jackson, David Hooker, Dedra Thornton, Georgene Bess, Rabiyah Karim-Kincey, William Eaglin III, Jonathan Eaglin, Jennifer Armstrong, Eboni McGee, Wallis Baxter III, C. Omishade Richardson, Zandra Jordan, Caletha Powell, Courtney Russell, Darius Bright, Patricia and Frank Caston, David Miller, Dedra Thornton, Anthony and Nicole Winburn, Cherita Perry, Derrick Allen, Wanakee Trask, Lasana Kazembe, Kerry Ann Rockquemore, Kevin and Jennifer Lam, Lauren Akousa Lowery, Kori Miller, William Dubose, Olatunji Obio Reed, Nzingha Samuel, Rashida Govan, Rahmeek Rasul, Jaha and Masud Assante, Brandon K. Evans, Allen Henson, Keanna Henson, Jasmine Porter, Joy Brooks, Marissa Mahoney, Jonelle Myers, Anne Aviles, Erica Davila, Jacqueline Spruill, and Harvey ← xi | xii → Hinton III. I have been more than fortunate to encounter a very supportive community of scholars who have supported my efforts and this work. Many thanks go to Lawrence Jackson of Emory University, Akinyele Umoja of Georgia State University, and both Claude P. Hutto and Samoya Livingston of Morehouse College for their encouragement and support during the writing process. It is with great gratitude and respect that I acknowledge those individuals who have been supportive through their conversation and for allowing me to inquire about their work that relates to the Black Freedom Struggle: Abdul Razzaq, Harold Pates, Askia Toure, Bill Ayers, Nathan Garrett, Bernadine Dohrn, Sam Greenlee, Cleveland Sellers, Roz Pelles, Howard Fuller, Robert Rhodes, Fannie T. Rushing, Greg Carr, Fanon Wilkins, William Sales, Charles Payne.

To my church home, The Israel of God (IOG) in Chicago, Atlanta, and all IOG camps domestic and international, may all physical and spiritual Israel continue to awaken for the improvement of all of the sons and daughters of the creation. Shalom. ← xii | xiii →


Abbreviations Used in the Text

AIS   African Information Service
ALD   African Liberation Day
ALDCC   African Liberation Day Coordinating Committee
ALSC   African Liberation Support Committee
AMM   American Muslim Mission
ASM   Afro-American Student Movement
BEDC   Black Economic Development Conference
BLF   Black Liberation Front
CAP   Congress of Afrikan People
CBC   Congressional Black Caucus
CBE   Center for Black Education
CIA   Central Intelligence Agency
CIAA   Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association
CIBI   Council of Independent Black Institutions
COFO   Council of Federated Organizations
COINTELPRO   Counter Intelligence Program
CORE   Congress of Racial Equality
CSC   Central State College
FBI   Federal Bureau of Investigation ← xiii | xiv →
FCD   Foundation for Community Development
FOI   Fruit of Islam
FRELIMO   Mozambique Liberation Front
GAPP   Greensboro Association of Poor People
GCSP   General Convention Special Program
GOP   Grand Old Party; Republican Party
HNIC   Head Nigger in Charge
IBW   Institute of the Black World
IFCO   Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization
LCFO   Lowndes County Freedom Organization
MFDP   Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
MMI   Muslim Mosque Inc.
MXLU   Malcolm X Liberation University
NAAAE   National Association of African American Education
NAACP   National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NAG   Non-Violent Action Group
NATO   North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NCBC   National Committee of Black Churchmen
NCF   North Carolina Fund
NCYOBU   North Carolina Youth Organization for Black Unity
NOI   Nation of Islam
NSA   National Student Association
NSM   Northern Student Movement
OAAU   Organization of Afro-American Unity
OAU   Organization of African Unity
OBT   Operation Breakthrough
OEO   Office of Economic Opportunity
PAIGC   African Party for the Independence of Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands
PAMP   Pan-African Medical Program
PASOA   Pan-African Student Organization of the Americas
PASP   Pan-African Skills Project
PMI   Palmer Memorial Institute
RAM   Revolutionary Action Movement
SCLC   Southern Christian Leadership Conference
SDS   Students for a Democratic Society
SFSC   San Francisco State College
SGA   Student Government Associations ← xiv | xv →
SNCC   Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee
SOBU   Student Organization for Black Unity
UCLA   University of California Los Angeles
UNIA   Universal Negro Improvement Association
UNITA   African Liberation Organization of FRELIMO (Angola)
UOCI   United Organizations for Community Improvement
UoI   University of Islam
YES   Youth Educational Services
YOBU   Youth Organization for Black Unity
YUBS   Youth for the Unity of Black Society
ZANU-ZAPU   African Liberation Organization of FRELIMO (Zimbabwe) ← xv | xvi →

← xvi | xvii →


XX, 304
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2012 (August)
liberation educational philosophy oppression tradition Social movement Activism Emancipation Oppression
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 304 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Richard Benson (Author)

Scholar, author, advocate, Richard D. Benson II earned a PhD in educational policy studies from the University of Illinois-at Urbana Champaign. He travels frequently as a guest lecturer speaking on topics such as the black student movement, and school-community advocacy. Benson resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is Assistant Professor in the Education Studies Program at Spelman College.


Title: Fighting for Our Place in the Sun
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