VIDEO: Malcolm X to be subject of NAACP lecture

MUSC professor J. Herman Blake to discuss the leader's life, beliefs

cconley@islandpacket.comFebruary 23, 2013 

Darryl Murphy sees the potential for a controversial leader to inspire.

And that is why the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Burton-Dale-Beaufort branch will host a free lecture Thursday on Malcolm X.

Medical University of South Carolina professor J. Herman Blake, who interviewed the human rights activist in 1963, will be the main speaker.

Murphy and other organizers hope the event rekindles interest in Malcolm X, whose life was re-examined in a 2011 biography by Manning Marable, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

"His life represents hope," said Murphy, president of the NAACP branch, which reactivated in June after a four-year hiatus.

"For a young person who may feel he has not done as well as he should have in school, or who may have financial hardships or issues going on in their lives, (they can) look at the life of Malcolm X and think, 'I can do this.' "

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Neb., in 1925. After a rough childhood, he became a petty criminal and later went to prison on a burglary charge. There, he was introduced to the Nation of Islam.

Years later, as a leader of the movement, he espoused views many considered radical at the time, including separation of the races. But these positions softened later in life, after he split from the group.

He was shot to death in New York City in 1965 by three members of the Nation of Islam.

Blake, who is a former scholar in residence at University of South Carolina Beaufort and a former director of the Sea Islands Institute, is an expert on Malcolm X. As a graduate student at the University of California in 1963, Blake asked Malcolm X several questions, including one on the Civil Rights Movement.

A video of the discussion has been viewed almost 180,000 times on YouTube.

Attempts last week to reach Blake for comment were unsuccessful.

Although the subject of the lecture was at times controversial, Murphy says the lecture won't be.

"I think people who would see it as negative, they don't know Malcolm," he said. "I think this will give people a chance to learn more about who Malcolm was."

Follow reporter Casey Conley at

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Related content:

Burton-Dale-Beaufort branch of NAACP revived, ready to go, Aug. 6, 2012

Biography of J. Herman Blake

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