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Let Us Make MenThe Twentieth-Century Black Press and a Manly Vision for Racial Advancement$
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D'Weston Haywood

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643397

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643397.001.0001

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Walk the Way of Free Men

Walk the Way of Free Men

Malcolm X, Displaying the Original Man, and Troubling the Black Press as the Voice of the Race

Chapter:
(p.181) 5 Walk the Way of Free Men
Source:
Let Us Make Men
Author(s):

D'Weston Haywood

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643397.003.0006

This chapter reinterprets the rise of black radicalism as a moment of competing “voices” across competing mass medias amid rapid changes in the black freedom struggle and media landscape of the 1960s. It also reinterprets Malcolm X as a newspaper publisher, a rather underanalyzed side of Malcolm. Black publishers had long considered their papers the “voice” of the race, and Malcolm’s founding of Muhammad Speaks in 1960 to amplify the voice of Elijah Muhammad signified this. Yet, the paper’s founding also marked the beginning of the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) robust media campaign to use various medias—radio, books, and albums of Muhammad’s speeches—to promote Muhammad’s vision for racial advancement over others. His vision promised to redeem black manhood by renewing their lives, a vision displayed through salesmen for Muhammad Speaks. Thus, readers could read both the paper and their bodies. Malcolm, however, made his display through television. But when he began to gain a voice through television that rivaled that of Muhammad’s in print, the NOI’s media campaign turned from promising to renew the lives of black men to promising to take it away. Malcolm became a newspaperman cut short of his full publishing potential.

Keywords:   Malcolm X, black radicalism, Black Nationalism, Muhammad Speaks, Black Power, Black Muslims, Nation of Islam, NOI, Elijah Muhammad, Original Man

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