Malcolm X was assassinated 40 years ago this month, but he still gazes out of photographs with a near-smile that seems to say: Is the world better than it was? He wanted people to be educated in the ‘’science of politics” so that ‘’they will know what a vote is for.” He said ‘’Take our problem out of the civil rights context and place it at the international level, of human rights, so that the entire world can have a voice in our struggle” in Detroit on Feb. 14, 1965, hours after his home had been fire-bombed.

By then he had formed the Organisation of Afro-American Unity, a nonreligious group, to fight ‘’all the negative political, economic, and social conditions that exist in our neighbourhood.” Its doors were open to anyone who was interested in direct action. But he was shot Feb. 21 in the Audubon Ballroom in New York by members of the Nation of Islam.

What would America be if Malcolm X had lived beyond his 39 years? He surely would have affected the course of politics and popular culture. He was a model of personal discipline. He warned: ‘’Don’t let the power structure manoeuvre you into a time-wasting battle with others when you could be involved in something that’s constructive and getting a real job done.” These challenges live on: to get a real job — working not merely for pay but for a greater common good. — The Boston Globe