Message to the Grassroots: Malcolm X… Human Rights… The Black Experience Continues, Pt 2

An episode of Message to the Grassroots, a cable access talk show produced & hosted by Michael Zinzun from 1988-1998 at Pasadena Community Access Corporation, which is now Pasadena Media.

00:00Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun introduces the program, the discussion, and the panelists: the ongoing struggle for Black consciousness and self-determination. He also opens the discussion to the importance of grassroots and how people can get involved.

02:10Copy video clip URL After opening the discussion to questions, a bit of archival footage plays. The footage shows Black people being attacked by the police and their dogs. The footage is violent, graphic, and evocative. There is also footage from various speeches from Malcolm X.

08:10Copy video clip URL The archival footage ends and we return to the panelists with Michael Zinzun. One of the panelists, Akua Jitahadi, gives some background on the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in LA. Panelist Chinganji Akinyela also discusses the positive aspects of movement: if you agree that these issues are a concern to you, then you can be involved. Further, Panelist Lacy Shabazz atests to why there is such an emphasis on human rights over constitutional and civil rights. This prompts responses from the other panelists as well. 

13:41Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun proposes a new discussion topic: reparations. Akinyela answers first about how the issue of reparations has become a hot issue and a growing movement. Michael Zinzun proposes a number of ways reparations could be disbursed and how “40 acres and a mule” would not be the best course of action.

19:22Copy video clip URL The next topic of discussion: prison and Geronimo Pratt. Geronimo Ji-Jaga Pratt was a decorated military veteran and a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted Pratt in a COINTELPRO operation in the early 1970s and in 1972, Pratt was tried and convicted for the 1968 murder of Caroline Olsen; he served 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. Michael Zinzun asks for an update on Pratt’s imprisonment. Akinyela talks about the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s involvement in trying to get him free. Among updates in his case, she also discusses how there was a collaboration with the cast of A Different World to get more attention to Pratt.

24:30Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun asks Shabazz to try and synthesize these concepts of reparations, imprisonment, and the teachings of Malcolm X. Lacy Shabazz posits that people need to start thinking broadly about what the Black community needs whether that be reparations in the form of money or technology.  He emphasizes that Black self-determination is of the utmost importance. The conversation between Zinzun and Shabazz continues as they discuss how Malcolm X would think in terms of Pratt, getting Black men out of prison, and community initiatives. 

29:50Copy video clip URL The program takes a break and commercials air.

33:26Copy video clip URL The program returns. Zinzun asks Akinyela to discuss Malcolm X as a role model and why the youth relate to him. 

35:07Copy video clip URL Zinzun introduces archival footage of Malcolm X giving a speech. In the speech he talks about Black people speaking, thinking and fighting for themselves. The footage changes to a dramatic reading of Malcolm’s words describing his youth and an accompanying reenactment. When this finishes, the footage returns to the violent footage of Black people being attacked by police dogs. From here, another speech from Malcolm X is played over footage of Black carnage and death.  Later, there is footage of Malcolm X giving an interview after his pilgrimage to Mecca. He is clear that he is no longer speaking on behalf of Elijah Muhmmad but for himself. He too emphasizes the importance of human rights. 

42:17Copy video clip URL Zinzun asks a question of genocide: what is it? How is it impacting the Black community in 1992? Lacy Shabazz answers and describes genocide as the systemic murder of Black people: mental murder, separating children from families, the growing divide between men and women, and police brutality. He is talking about 30 million people suffering from mental and physical abuse at the hands of white people and the millions that died and suffered as a result of the Middle Passage. As Shabazz continues, he talks at length about the systemic disenfranchisement of Black people and the Black community as a result of drugs.

47:45Copy video clip URL Zinzun’s next question is about women and their involvement in the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Akua Jitahadi talks about dealing with self-determination and sexism. She is emphatic that there is no sexism within their movement and the panelists all agree that only time will tell. She and Zinzun agree that it is important to enforce a sort of concsiousness about the liberation of women as well: for Black people to be free, Black women also need to be free. Akinyela discusses how there is a struggle against sexism within society and the Black community. 

52:02Copy video clip URL Akinyela gives the number and address to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. She talks about some of the youth programs that the Movement offers: martial arts, rap session, and they are a proud supporters of independent schools. She also announces a banquet celebrating Malcolm X’s birthday. At the banquet, they present two citizens with the Malcolm X Freedom Award and Michael is nominated. 

55:20Copy video clip URL Michael Zinzun gives the last words of the program to Lacy Shabazz and Akua Jitahadi who both promote upcoming events. Zinzun closes the program.  



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