Heat-Tempered Rock

Composite Image created by overlaying an original image of an ancient igneous rock over a portion of widely circulated photo of Malcolm X.
Malcolm X

Heat-Tempered Rock

For some he was “Red,”
Some said High Yellow.
By the end color was not a lock.
A heat-tempered rock,
With honest vision was he led.

He had no surname
For the slave-masters of yore,
And those they bore,
Had stolen his past.
So X would replace his last.

Broke with his old gang
Exposing old man Elijah’s
Sleazy slang
A young woman’s Plight
Had brought to light.

‘Though a lover of jazz
To Mecca, he took a flight
Where he saw the light
And there he became
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Began to speak for all
Victims of Americanism
Black or white,
As No Vietnamese
Had ever called him Nigger
In all his short life.

An authentic working-class Hero
Whose words still astound
As a revolutionary, he did explain
He was no longer bound
By an old man’s constraints.

A citizen of the world he became
Advanced the fight for justice
Spoke of Human Rights
By any means necessary.

Hoover’s Suited Thugs,
As they were then
And yet remain,
Feared The Black Messiah
He might become.

At Selma he treated
Peace with a King
Only to be soon slain
By a bullet from Louis,
The Jew-Hater’s, sting.

Like the man named Che
He’d met in a Harlem hotel
His ideas and example
Are here to stay.
—Jay Ressler