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Malcolm X: A Fearless Leader

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Malcolm X: A Fearless Leader

Malcolm X: A Fearless Leader

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

We'll hear a conversation and performance with singer and songwriter KT Tunstall in a moment.

But, first, we continue our series of Black History Month salutes. We've invited members of the TELL ME MORE staff, some of our guests, and our NPR colleagues to share stories about the figure or event from black history that they most admire. Today we recognize a black Muslim-American leader who was killed on this day in 1965.

BRAKKTON BOOKER: I'm Brakkton Booker, an assistant editor here at TELL ME MORE, and my black history icon is Malcolm X. In his 39 years of life, he was a hoodlum, a racist, an inmate and a Muslim who was militant in the fight for civil rights. But that's not why I admire him. More than the any means necessary mantra that has become his enduring legacy, I love Malcolm X's willingness to eschew racism and evolve into a human rights activist. Here he is in 1964 talking to reporters about his pilgrimage to Mecca.

(Soundbite of recording)

Mr. MALCOLM X (Activist): I had close contact with Muslims whose skin would, in America, be classified as white and with Muslims who would themselves would be classified as white in America. But these particular Muslims didn't call themselves white. They looked upon themselves as human beings, as part of the human family.

BOOKER: Those words couldn't be more relevant today, as the U.S. Homeland Security Committee considers hearings on the radicalization of the Muslim community. Malcolm X was assassinated 46 years ago today.

MARTIN: That was TELL ME MORE assistant editor Brakkton Booker paying tribute to Malcolm X.

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