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Malcolm X

Malcolm X I read an excerpt from the book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley. In this part of the book Malcolm discusses his quest for knowledge. He starts off by telling us about how he wrote his Harlem, hustler friends and told them all about Allah and Mr. Elijah Muhammad, the two main figures in the Islam religion. He never got a single reply and figured it was because the average hustler and criminal couldn’t read.

He also thought that maybe they thought he had gone crazy, because after all he was writing them about the devil; “the white devil.” Maybe his letters never even got there. White men, men who might have just thrown the letters out, censored all of his mail. However, no one ever said anything to him about them or ever treated him differently because of it. As Malcolm X be3gan to write more letters to a wide variety of people he became frustrated with the fact that he could not communicate with them as he wanted to. “It was because of these letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of homemade education.” He hated it because he had been the most articulate hustler on the streets of Harlem, and could get anyone’s attention with his words. He was admired for the eloquent words he spoke and was not used to being ignored.

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For now even the simplest English was hard for him to write. His quest for an education had begun, but it would be a long one. He decries how it all really began while he was being held at the Charlestown Prison. Bimbi, a fellow prisoner, was very intelligent and Malcolm envied his gift. Bimbi encouraged him to read and Malcolm would try but would end up quitting because he would skip the words he didn’t know and keep reading. The problem with this was that he could never fully understand what he was reading and would put the book down.

So he decided that he needed to learn how to read and write properly. He decided that the best way to go about it would be to get a hold of a copy of a dictionary and study it. He requested a dictionary, some pencils and some pads of paper. When he first got the book he spent a while just looking through it wondering where to start. He decided that the best place to start would be with the A’s.

So he just started copying. He copied every word and punctuation mark on the first page. It took him the entire day, and when he finished he read aloud what he had written over and over again. The next day he woke up thinking about the words that he had written and to his surprise he even remembered what some of them meant. So he went back over the list again until he knew what every word meant. He was so fascinated that he copied the next page and had the same experience when he woke up the next morning and reviewed them.

He eventually copied the entire dictionary while he was in prison. As his word-base broadened he was able to pick up a book and read it all the way through. Being able to do his made him feel important and smart. He became so good at reading that he spent all of his free time reading, and because of this his time in jail went by quickly. “In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.” English Essays.

Malcolm X

The year was 1925, and someone special was born. His birth name was Malcolm Little, however there were big things in store for this child. Born in Omaha, Nebraska. The seventh of eleven children born to Earl Little, an organizer for Marcus Garvey’s ;quot;back-to-Africa;quot; movement (Compton’s encyclopedia online). At age six Malcolm’s father was murdered. As a result his mother later suffered a nervous breakdown, and the family was separated by welfare agencies (Compton’s encyclopedia online). Later in life he would blame these same agencies for destroying his family. He was bounced around from boardinghouses and schools, and dreamed of becoming a lawyer only to be discouraged by his teachers. After leaving school, in the eighth grade, he lived with a relative in Boston, Mass. He shined shoes, worked in a restaurant and on a railroad kitchen crew. In 1942 he moved to a section in New York called Harlem. Where he lived as a hustler, cheating people to make money for himself. He also sold drugs and became a drug addict himself. A rival drug dealer named "West Indian Archie" ran him out of New York. And he ended up back in Boston. Where he started a burglary ring, which consisted of friend named Shorty, a pretty boy type of fellow named Rudy, a woman that Malcolm dealt with named Sophia and one of her friends (Alex Haley 168). He soon found out that crime does not pay, when he soon got arrested and stolen items were found in his possession. The Negroes of that group was sentenced to eight years, while the whites of the group were sentenced to only two. This put an image in Malcolm’s head on how the justice system was ran. While in prison. Malcolm was well known to the guards. One time he was asked to state his number, but instead he said he forgot his number. The guards beat him and sent him to the ;quot;darkroom;quot;. In the darkroom he met Brother Bains. Bains was a man everyone respected including guards. He was known as a real man and gave speeches about Islam. Malcolm did not listen at first; however it didn’t take him long to listen to the words of black empowerment, spoken by brother Bains. The black Muslims prediction that in the near future a great war would take place in which whites would be destroyed and black people would rule the world through the power of Allah, their creator. To prepare for this Brother Bains preached, the importance of self-restraint, opposed the use of drugs and alcohol, and organized self-help groups. Malcolm Little was converted to this faith. Instead of wasting his time in prison getting into more trouble, he begins to read and broaden his thoughts. As he did this, his mind opens up to knowledge. He also tried to improve in other areas such as appearance and speech. He decided not to associate himself with former friends he got in trouble with, and formed new friendships with people of the same faith. He left prison Malcolm X. An image popped into my head while reading "the Autobiography of Malcolm X"(Alex Haley 231). The image of a strong man standing in the middle of stage giving a speech. The year is 1953. At the height of racial tension, the city is Detroit. Malcolm X is giving a speech after a run in with FBI agents concerning the nation of Islam’s practices, and how their message was being used. He stands on the pulpit, and delivers a message. ;quot;We didn’t land on Plymouth rock, my brothers Plymouth Rock landed on us!" It’s a clear message to his followers. If you want to succeed, first get from under that rock. He insisted that ;quot;black is beautiful,;quot; and that African Americans must take control of their own destiny. As Malcolm was giving a speech at the autobahn in New York City. Three men gunned him down, in cold blood, in front of his wife and children. At the end of Malcolm’s life. He was a changed man, a man no longer involved with racism although he had a large following he saw an even larger picture. He saw a world where people of all colors and religions could help one another instead of fight one another. His most enduring messages are one of black pride and self-respect, combined with his uncompromising rejection of racism.
Bibliography
OUTLINE I. Malcolm Little A. The beginning B. Separated from family C. Moving around II. Life of Crime A. Being sentenced to jail B. Introduction to Islam C. Name change to Malcolm X III. Conclusion A. Speech B. His gift

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