Baggie Trousers

By SkaBaggie

X Marks The Spot

Amazing what gems a bit of research can unearth. Until today I had absolutely no idea that nine days before he was shot dead in Manhattan by members of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X visited the Black Country. This image shows him standing on Marshall Street in Smethwick, the constituency which the Conservative Party had won in the general election four months earlier with the campaign slogan for a nigger as a neighbour, vote Liberal or Labour. During his visit he addressed local people, commenting that "I would not wait for the fascist element in Smethwick to erect gas ovens."

A week later, he was heard in conversation saying, "Racism isn't just a black and white problem. It's brought bloodbaths to about every nation on earth at one time or another. I did many things as a Muslim that I'm sorry for now. I was a zombie then; I was hypnotised, pointed in a certain direction and told to march. Well, I guess a man's entitled to make a fool of himself if he's ready to pay the cost. It cost me twelve years. That was a bad scene, brother. The sickness and madness of those days; I'm glad to be free of them."

It's a small footnote in local history, but intriguing nevertheless that one of the 20th century's most iconic political and social thinkers found his very own road to Damascus on a quiet street in the West Midlands.

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