Malcolm X and the New Politics of Pan-African Nationalism

Posted: 1 Nov 2011

Date Written: October 31, 2011


“You know, I’m glad I’ve been the first to establish official ties between Afro-Americans and our blood brothers in Africa.”

Malcolm X made this short but compelling remark just a day before his assassination on the 25th of February, 1965. We know that the statement belonged to an era of tremendous change, both in Malcolm’s personal life and in the lives of African people throughout the Diaspora.

Unfortunately, we cannot know Malcolm’s precise thoughts at the exact time of his comment, or his reflections on the specific international dynamics that prompted it. Nonetheless, the full weight of this statement can be appreciated in terms of its relationship to the political transformations that were unfolding across the African Diaspora. The aim of this paper is to explore this relationship by examining the significance of Malcolm X’s thoughts and leadership for what might be viewed as a new era in the Pan-African movement. Specifically, I raise two questions: First, how might we situate Malcolm X and his contributions to African unity within the historical evolution of Pan-Africanism? Second, and more central to the essay, how did he contribute to the contemporary emergence of Pan-African nationalism? The analysis begins by outlining the basic theoretical claims that comprise Pan-African nationalism. A content analysis is then employed in order to identify Malcolm X’s contributions to Pan-African nationalism and its manifestations in the three diasporic flashpoints. The essay concludes by locating the implications of this for the manner in which the Pan-African movement must now be understood and practiced.

Keywords: Malcolm X, Pan-Africanism

Suggested Citation

Young, Kurt, Malcolm X and the New Politics of Pan-African Nationalism (October 31, 2011). NCOBPS 43rd Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Kurt Young (Contact Author)

Clark Atlanta University ( email )

223 James P. Brawley
Atlanta, GA 30314
United States

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