A new film looks at the early life and legacy of Malcolm X in his historic struggle for freedom, justice and equality for Black people in the United States.
Directed by Thomas Muhammad and narrated by Malcolm X co-worker A. Peter Bailey, the documentary, “Malcolm X: An Overwhelming Influence on America’s Black Power Movement,” takes viewers on a road trip with Bailey from the nation’s capital to the headquarters of the voting rights struggle in Alabama exploring the life and work of the civil rights icon.
Bailey, an acclaimed journalist author and lecturer, was a founding member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which was organized in 1964 by Malcolm X, and served as the editor of Backlash, the organization’s newsletter. He also served as one of the pallbearers at Malcolm’s funeral.
He recalled coming across Malcolm X in 1962 while taking a walk in the Harlem neighborhood to which he had just moved.
“We were outside and there were a couple of thousand people standing there, and spoke for almost three hours,” Bailey said. “By the time he got through, I immediately became a ‘Malcolmite’ because I had never heard anyone talk about race in this country with such clarity and passion and forcefulness.”
Along the 92-minute journey, viewers meet the friends, family, comrades and other major civil rights figures, many of whom share intimate and critical moments of their time and work with Malcolm and have never been publicly interviewed before. It explores his journey from his family’s history of generations of resistance to racist policies, and his journey from a juvenile delinquent to becoming the face of a movement for a separate, strong and economically self-sufficient Black race, and one of the nation’s most recognized historical figures.
“I finished the eighth grade in Lansing, Mich., my high school was a Black ghetto in Roxbury, Mass., my college was in the streets of Harlem and my master’s was taken in prison” Malcolm X is quoted as saying in the film.
The documentary’s creators hoped to give a modern take on the revolutionary and dispel oft-negative public perceptions of his works and positions, which were heavily influenced by a militant and potentially violent portrayal of him in the media. The film aims to show him through personal stories from those who knew him best and demonstrate how his influence continues to resonate in the interests of today’s youth and initiatives.
“I don’t know how they got all that shot into an hour and a half because they shot a whole lot of footage,” Bailey said of the production team. “I give [Muhammad] tremendous credit for his editing.”
The film will be a part of upcoming African Diaspora Film Festival in New York and the Pan African Film and Arts Festival in Los Angeles.