Eulogy delivered by Ossie Davis at the funeral of Malcolm X
Faith Temple Church Of God,
"Here - at this final hour, in this quiet place - Harlem has come to bid
farewell to one of its brightest hopes -extinguished now, and gone from
us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and
fought - his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people
are - and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again - in
Harlem - to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been
gracious to those who have loved her, have fought her, and have defended
her honor even to the death.
It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate, but
nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young
champion than this Afro-American who lies before us - unconquered still.
I say the word again, as he would want me to : Afro-American -
Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use
of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over minds of
men. Malcolm had stopped being a 'Negro' years ago. It had become too
small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that.
Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted - so desperately -
that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans too.
There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro
people, to tell us to revile him, to flee, even from the presence of his
memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our
turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this
stormy, controversial and bold young captain - and we will smile. Many
will say turn away - away from this man, for he is not a man but a
demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man - and we
will smile. They will say that he is of hate - a fanatic, a racist - who
can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will
answer and say to them : Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you
ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to
him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with
violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him.
And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him.
Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning
to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves.
Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: 'My journey',
he says, 'is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I
started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our
struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing
these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy
and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights
struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most
valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other.'
However we may have differed with him - or with each other about him and
his value as a man - let his going from us serve only to bring us
Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all,
secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now
a man - but a seed - which, after the winter of our discontent, will
come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was
and is - a Prince - our own black shining Prince! - who didn't hesitate
to die, because he loved us so."
© 2001 ESTATE OF MALCOLM X.