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Fighting for Our Place in the Sun

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


Richard Benson

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.


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Chapter 5: Malcolm X Liberation University. Planning, Curriculum, Projects, and Institutional Objectives


5Malcolm X Liberation University Planning, Curriculum, Projects, and Institutional Objectives History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to de- pend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.1 —Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro Background: Historical Antecedents of Malcolm X Liberation University To all appearances, Malcolm X Liberation University was a child of the turbulent times in which it was born. Founded in 1969, it was indeed a direct outgrowth of the restive dissatisfaction of African American scholars and college students and the broader disaffection of the Black urban poor. However, MXLU was no mere child of the 1960s. Its sociopolitical DNA could be traced to Black liberation and Black Nationalist efforts dating to the antebellum period and to the self-reliance movements of Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Following the Civil War, Black folks who had emerged from the cauldron of chattel slavery embarked on a tireless journey to improve their condition by 148 | Fighting for Our Place in the Sun educating themselves. For many ex-slaves, the ability to read and write their own names was a benchmark achievement that meant the beginnings of improved self-esteem and a psychological freedom that rivaled the removal of physical shack- les. Ex-slaves rushed to become part of a...

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