Juliane Hammer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Islamic Studies professor, interviews scholar and writer Michael Muhammad Knight about his research on the Five Percenters, Malcolm X’s special significance in the fashioning of the “American Muslims” construct, and the under-examined aspects of his legacy.  

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on APRIL 6, 2015: 

February 21, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His life — as a black figure, as a Muslim figure, and as an international figure — and legacy have gotten widespread media and scholarly attention.

On 2/20/15 and 2/21/15,  a national conference on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist” was held at Duke and UNC — co-organized by Omid Safi, UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies professor Juliane Hammer, and African & African American Studies professor and host of Left of Black Mark Anthony Neal.

This semester ISLAMiCommentary has been featuring scholarly insight into Malcolm X and his legacy, which includes video coverage of the conference itself, separately produced video-taped conversations, photos and written features. (For links to these features, see the bottom of this page.)

Michael Muhammad Knight
(photo courtesy Layla Quran and Aisha Anwar)

Here is a written interview by Hammer with UNC-Chapel Hill PhD candidate in Religious Studies Michael Muhammad Knight, who presented at the conference (2/21/14) on “Representations of Malcolm X in the Ansaaru Allah Community.” Knight’s research focuses on representations of Muhammad’s body in the hadith and sira corpus.  He is also the author of 9 books, including The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-Hop, and the Gods of New York.

JH: How did Malcom X become relevant for your research?

MMK: I have been interested in how communities such as the Five Percenters and Ansaaru Allah Community/Nubian Islaamic Hebrews (AAC/NIH) engage Malcolm. I think that examining the diverse ways in which communities employ Malcolm as an authority figure challenges much of what we assume about American Muslims, “orthodoxy,” and Muslim internationalisms. Continue reading

Posted in Americas, Conference, Gender, History, Islamic Studies & Academia, Islamic Theology & Practice, MalcolmX50, Race and Ethnicity, Religion.

This video was produced by Julie Poucher Harbin of ISLAMiCommentary and Catherine Angst of the John Hope Franklin Center as part of the ISLAMiCommentary Field Reports series.

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCOMMENTARY on MARCH 24, 2015: 

Just ahead of a national conference being held at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill (2/20/15-2/21/15) on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist” I interviewed Sohail Daulatzai  (author of “Black Star Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom Beyond America”) on the impact that Black radicalism and Black Islam had on third world revolutionary movements of the 50s and 60s; Malcolm’s recurrent presence within the culture and politics of US racecraft; US empire; and the impact of Malcolm X on post-cold-war hip hop culture.

We also discussed his current projects, including research on the 50th anniversary of The Battle of Algiers film and its relevance today, and work on graphic novel adaption of Sam Greenlee’s novel “The Spook Who Sat by the Door.” Continue reading

Posted in Americas, Arts & Culture, Colonialism, Conference, History, MalcolmX50, Middle East & North Africa.

This video was produced by Julie Poucher Harbin of ISLAMiCommentary and Catherine Angst of the John Hope Franklin Center as part of the ISLAMiCommentary Field Reports series.

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on MARCH 20, 2015: 

I interviewed Maytha Alhassen, a University of Southern California (USC) Provost Ph.D. Fellow in American Studies and Ethnicity last month, just ahead of a national conference held at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill (2/20-2/21/15) on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist.”

In this video she talks about her previous work on the Malcolm X Project, and how Malcolm’s pro-Palestinian activism inspired her in her own activism in the Middle East and in social movements here in the United States. Continue reading

Posted in Americas, Conference, History, Human Rights, Islamic Studies & Academia, Islamic Theology & Practice, MalcolmX50, Middle East & North Africa, Political Science, Race and Ethnicity, Religion, Security & Civil Liberties, Social Media & Visual Media.

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on MARCH 20, 2015: 

February 21, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His life — as a black figure, as a Muslim figure, and as an international figure — and legacy have gotten widespread media and scholarly attention.

There are many academic Malcolm X representations, readings, and interpretations, and with many great figures in human history, their legacy is more and something other than that great person’s biography.

Said Duke Islamic Studies Center Director Omid Safi: “We are living through the 50th anniversary of many of the monumental events in the history of the civil rights movement. The protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere tell us that issues of racism, brutality, poverty and militarism are still with us.”

A national conference on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist” was held on 2/20/15 and 2/21/15 at Duke and UNC — co-organized by Safi, UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies professor Juliane Hammer, and African & African American Studies professor and host of Left of Black Mark Anthony Neal.

“Our aim is to commemorate his life, his thought and his unique contributions to struggles for justice, recognition and change in a world he experienced as both a challenge and a promise,” said Hammer.

The conference was sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center. Cosponsors included the Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke University), Department of Religious Studies (Duke University), African and African American Studies (Duke University), and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (UNC-Chapel Hill).

Conference participants included Safi; Hammer; Neal; William Chafe (Emeritus, Duke); William “Sandy” Darity (Duke); Michael Muhammad Knight (UNC Chapel Hill); Hisham Aidi (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs), Maytha Alhassen (University of Southern California), Zaheer Ali (CUNY, Columbia University, Malcolm X Project), Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Sohail Daulatzai (University of California-Irvine), William “Bill” Hart (University of North Carolina-Greensboro), and Jamillah Karim (author). Continue reading

Posted in Americas, Arts & Culture, Colonialism, Conference, History, Islamic Studies & Academia, Language & Literature, MalcolmX50, Middle East & North Africa, Race and Ethnicity, Security & Civil Liberties.

by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary, on FEBRUARY 23, 2015 *Updated February 25 with Forum for Scholars & Publics video (above): 

February 21, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century, Malcolm X El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. This weekend his life and legacy got widespread media attention.

There are many academic Malcolm X representations, readings, and interpretations, and with many great figures in human history, their legacy is more and something other than that great person’s biography.

Said Duke Islamic Studies Center Director Omid Safi:  “We are living through the 50th anniversary of many of the monumental events in the history of the civil rights movement. The protests in Ferguson, New York and elsewhere tell us that issues of racism, brutality, poverty and militarism are still with us.”

Over the weekend a national conference on “The Legacy of Malcolm X: Afro-American Visionary, Muslim Activist” was held at Duke and UNC — co-organized by Safi, UNC-Chapel Hill Islamic Studies professor Juliane Hammer, and African & African American Studies professor and host of Left of Black Mark Anthony Neal.

The conference (details here) was sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center. Cosponsors included the Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke University), Department of Religious Studies (Duke University), African and African American Studies (Duke University), and the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations (UNC-Chapel Hill).

Conference participants included Safi; HammerNeal; William Chafe (Emeritus, Duke); William “Sandy” Darity (Duke); Michael Muhammad Knight (UNC Chapel Hill); Hisham Aidi (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs), Maytha Alhassen (University of Southern California), Zaheer Ali (CUNY, Columbia University, Malcolm X Project), Abbas Barzegar (Georgia State University), Sohail Daulatzai (University of California-Irvine), William “Bill” Hart (University of North Carolina-Greensboro), and Jamillah Karim (author).

Above featured video is a panel discussion “Malcolm X Now” co-sponsored by Duke’s Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Duke Islamic Studies Center featuring Alhassen, Ali, Hart, and Knight.

Below is a Twitter Storify of the event, as well as a selection of articles and interviews about Malcolm X that aired or were published over the past week by or about scholars who participated in our conference. Watch this space in the coming weeks for video features, including in-depth interviews. Continue reading

Posted in Americas, Citizenship, Conference, Economics, Gender, History, Human Rights, Interfaith, International Studies, Islamic Theology & Practice, MalcolmX50, Muslim Life, Political Science, Race and Ethnicity, Religion, Security & Civil Liberties, Sociology.