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Malcom X’s Role in the Formation of the de Mau Mau

Anyone who knows the history of the Black American movement must know the role De Mau Mau played in the civil rights movement. But what you may not know is that this Black-led American organization was inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion that took place in Kenya.

Well, Malcom X, the civil right movement leader, idolized the Mau Mau movement and their struggle that resulted in Kenya gaining its independence. Malcom X himself described the Mau Mau rebellion as the 1st Black Revolution during the colonial and slavery era. While speaking as the Nation of Islam’s spokesman in Detroit, he expressed his admiration for various African movements including the Mau Mau.

Malcom X managed to visit and even spoke in the Kenyan Parliament in October 1964. His speech resulted in the parliament passing a resolution supporting human rights.

When he got back home, he shared his dream with the nation when speaking in Harlem. He said that the black Americans needed their version of Mau Mau in New York City, Alabama, and Mississippi. Malcom X said that they could learn from Kenyatta who partnered with Odinga to free Kenya.

“Sure, they were fighting for their land, but the black American could use the same tactics to fight for their civil rights” He stated. His speech inspired many black Americans with many organizations taking the name of the Mau Mau in the 1960s to show their support for the Kenyan rebellion.

This resulted in many organizations adopting the name. But one group that stood out was the black-led group known as “De Mau Mau.”  

What Was De Mau Mau?

De Mau Mau was a black-led group that was formed during the Vietnam War period and was composed of black marines. The organization was reported to be an undercover unit that killed several whites. The black marines came from Vietnam angry and believed that they were used to safeguard American freedom, which they didn’t enjoy.

The organization was composed of black GIs who suffered from racism in Vietnam and discovered that unity was necessary to fight oppression. After the war, they came back to unemployment, unfair courts, and poor health care and educational facilities. These vets were disappointed, so they organized and started fighting for what they were denied. 

The veterans were quite powerful and influential and the Americans listened to them. This made the federal and local governments afraid of them speaking loudly as seen in Gary Lawton’s trial. Some even used them to create a rift between the whites and blacks while seeking to be re-elected.

But their most notable atrocity was the Barrington Hill Massacre that saw 9 members of the group caught for killing whites.

Edward Hanrahan, Cook County state’s attorney tried to use the massacre to get re-elected but failed. He said they had substantial evidence against them which wasn’t the case.

And since he didn’t have the support of the black community, he tried to use racism to divide the people of Chicago but was unsuccessful as some whites didn’t believe him. He was responsible for the murder of the Black Panther members (Mark Clark and Fred Hampton).

So, Hanrahan’s decision to separate Americans backfired as they ended up uniting and demanding for a fair trial of the De Mau Mau brothers who were locked away.

Barry Wright visited the arrested De Mau Mau members and used the opportunity to address the struggle the vet underwent when looking for jobs after the war.

Kenyalogue Contributor


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