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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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Synthesis and Conclusions: Examining Ideological and Historical Threads

Explicating a Malcolm X philosophy of education as it relates to the Black Student Movement is an intricate process. Part of the challenge lies in understanding and tracing Malcolm’s pedagogical influence, which was and continues to be expressed by scores of individuals within and outside of the movement. Those individuals who benefited from having personal contact with Malcolm have revealed segments of his educational philosophy through their work. Younger freedom fighters who came to know Malcolm through his recorded speeches and his autobiography are also stewards of his didactics. Malcolm has so many acolytes working in so many diverse and sometimes divergent fields that his pedagogic strain is now a generational web—for good and ill.

This web, with its many spires and tangles is, perhaps, best represented by the factionalism of organizations that sought and seek to advance divergent interpretations of a “Malcolm X brand” of Black Nationalism. William L. Van Deburg reflected on this phenomenon: ← 269 | 270 →

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