A Malcolm X interview 6 weeks before his death may surprise people who think they know him

Few figures in American history have as controversial a legacy as Malcolm X. Some view the civil rights leader as the violent counterpart to Martin Luther King, Jr. Some see him as an icon of empowerment, while others view him as a dangerous radical. What people think they know of him may depend on whether they're looking at his early or later speeches, or whether they're getting information about him from a source that views him positively or negatively.

The reality is that Malcolm X's life is one marked by complexity and change, which makes defining his legacy in a nutshell nearly impossible. In an era where political polarization tempts us to place people neatly into ideological boxes— and where changing one's views is often branded as flip-flopping or wishy-washiness—Malcolm X's ever-evolving message and approach to civil rights is a reminder that no one can—or should—be confined to a soundbite.


A Canadian television interview with Malcolm X on CBC's Front Page Challenge provides a glimpse of where X's beliefs had led him prior to his death. The interview took place on January 5, 1965—about six weeks before his assassination on February 21st of that year. In the interview, he clarified his position on his "brother," MLK, Jr., explained why he left the Nation of Islam but maintained his Muslim faith and described his view on black people's right to defend their life and property "by any means necessary"—the same right all Americans share.

Malcolm X on Front Page Challenge, 1965: CBC Archives | CBC www.youtube.com

Malcolm X wasn't afraid to say what he felt. It is truly tragic that his voice was cut short just as the U.S. was making strides—at least legally, on paper—toward racial equality. As with other civil rights leaders of his time, much of what X spoke about and wrote about is still relevant today, 55 years after his death. Agree with him or not, but anyone who wants a deep, broad and rich understanding of the complexities of current race relations in the U.S. would benefit from a thorough study of his life and legacy.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.