A man of many names and many trades, from the sidewalk pimping "Detroit Red," to the sidewalk preaching "Malcolm X," the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was always evolving.
And yet, one constant remained throughout most of the civil rights hero's erratic life: his home base. Harlem, the neighborhood where he—in no particular order—ate, prayed, danced, read, hustled, slept, and preached. Lest we forget, it's also where he organized massive revolts against New York's police force, where he dispersed a crowd of 500 with a single hand gesture, and where he led one officer to remark, "No one man should have that much power." And you thought Kanye said it first.
Malcolm X called a number of places home over his 39-year lifespan, but he identified with the legendary Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem most of all. He cherished it in a way that would inspire jealousy in residents of Omaha, Lansing, and Boston's Roxbury. It already has—why else would those places all try to claim Malcolm as theirs?
But ask any of Malcolm's friends or one-time associates, as we did, and you'll quickly learn that the man was a Harlemite through and through. The area's storied culture practically ran through his blood, and that's in spite of the fact that he didn't even live within its borders during his later years.
So take a stroll through the visionary's Harlem. See the hotels, the bookstores and the houses of worship that he patroned, find the street corners where he perfected his craft, enter the ballroom where the transformative icon met his tragic end on February 21, 1965, 48 years ago today.
Observe firsthand the metamorphosis of a modern-day visionary with our Guide to Malcolm X's Harlem.
Written by Faiz Siddiqui (@faizsays)
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