Malcolm X: Wings

“Awareness came surging up in me – how deeply the religion of Islam had reached down into the mud to lift me up, to save me from being what I inevitably would have been: a dead criminal in a grave, or, if still alive, a flinthard, bitter, thirty-seven-year-old convict in some penitentiary, or insane asylum. Or, at best, I would have been an old, fading Detroit Red, hustling, stealing enough for food and narcotics and myself being stalked as prey by cruelly ambitious young hustlers such as Detroit Red had been.

But Allah had blessed me to learn about the religion of Islam, which had enabled me to lift myself up from the muck and the mire of this rotting world.

And there I stood, the invited speaker, at Harvard.

A story that I had read in prison when I was reading a lot of Greek mythology flicked into my head.

The boy Icarus. Do you remember the story?

Icarus’ father made some wings that he fastened with wax, ‘Never fly but so high with these wings,’ the father said. But soaring around, this way, that way, Icarus’ flying pleased him so that he began thinking he was flying on his own merit.Higher, he flew – higher – until the heat of the sun melted the wax holding those wings. And down came Icarus – tumbling.

Standing there by that Harvard window, I silently vowed to Allah that I never would forget that any wings I wore had been put on by the religion of Islam. That fact I never have forgotten… not for one second.”

~ Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, page 395.

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