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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 6: Working for African Liberation with the Student Organization for Black Unity. Historical Developments, Programs, and Activity, 1969–1971


6Working for African Liberation with the Student Organization for Black Unity Historical Developments, Programs, and Activity, 1969–1971 Your obligation is as students to use your analytical minds for the development of your people, not yourselves—that’s a nigger concept. I want to beg you. Be concerned with the problems of your people. Study and analyze those problems. I want to beg you, because your people need you, if you don’t recognize it. It’s time to stop jiving. Get serious about the situation and do some work for your people.1 —Stokely Carmichael Students, more fundamentally youth, merely represent a point of departure in our work, not an elitist group. Because the forces that be have dictated that a significant number of African youth are in fact situated in schools across this country, it makes sense to organize the acces- sible sector of African youth to participate in the struggle for the liberation of all our people. The history of “student” involvement in the struggle has always been characterized by a mo- bility from the campus to the center of the Black community where the work must be done.2 —Nelson Johnson, SOBU National Chairman On the Road to Establishment: SOBU’s Interim Development Period It was rude, it was rickety, but it was revolutionary. In fact, the week-long national conference hosted by SOBU just a week before the inaugural activities for the newly minted Malcolm X Liberation University 192 | Fighting for Our Place in the Sun was so extemporaneous, so doggedly committed...

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