Malcolm X Liberation University: An Experiment in Independent Black Education

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Series/Report No.

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The purpose of the research undertaken has been to examine the origins, mission, and ultimate demise of Malcolm X Liberation University (MXLU) from 1969-1973 in Durham and Greensboro, North Carolina. MXLU is placed within the larger context of the Black Power movement of the late 1960s and one of its offshoots: the creation of the Black University. The origins of MXLU lay in the takeover of the administration building at Duke University in an effort to force Duke to address grievances held by African-American students. The perceived failure of Duke to respond to the student concerns prompted the development of MXLU, with controversial local activist Howard Fuller emerging as the guiding force of the new school. In its brief history, MXLU operated under a cloud of mystery and suspicion, largely due to a conscious decision to keep the separatist school's operations a secret from the white media. Without two grants from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina totaling $45,000, MXLU may never have opened its doors. Those grants, however, rocked the North Carolina diocese to its core, and made attaining future funds a difficult task for MXLU. Surviving documents from individuals involved with MXLU relate a story of a school with an innovative approach to education for African-Americans, but constantly struggling merely to stay afloat. Financial problems do not tell the complete story, however. A failure to cultivate relations with North Carolina's historically black college and universities (HBCUs), a lack of support from civil rights organizations, Howard Fuller's and MXLU's recurring problems with the white press, and internal factions within MXLU itself all contributed to the ultimate demise of MXLU as a viable institution of higher learning. MXLU's legacy can be clearly seen in the explosion of African-American studies programs in the nation's colleges and universities, as well as in the renewed debate over the value of integration in America's flawed public education system.



Howard Fuller, Black University, Malcolm X Liberation University