Malcolm X Annotated Bibliography
Malcolm X is one of the most influential African-Americans in history and this influence not only developed as a result of his charisma, but also because of the way that addressed issues that affected African-Americans in society. His writings and speeches show the influence of the various events in his life that shaped his views about the world that he lived in as well as his stance on issues. His speeches show that he was a man that spoke with authority; most likely resulting from having to be on his own from an early age after the death of his parents. Most of his works and actions show Malcolm X to have been a man with a mission to defend the rights of all African-Americans who had for centuries been denied the equality and human dignity in the United States. Malcolm X’s works and beliefs were shaped from the experiences that he had had since childhood and the way that he had responded to these experiences.
One of the most significant experiences that must have influenced the development of Malcolm X’s racial philosophy were the suspicious circumstances behind his father’ death. When he was still a young boy, Malcolm X heard rumors that his father had been killed by a local white supremacist organization and this must have had a profound influence on him. This is especially the case in the way that he adopted a militaristic attitude towards matters concerning race and racial relations in the United States. Even after joining the civil rights movement, he seems to have continued having a negative attitude towards the white dominated establishment in America. This is especially the case where in his speech, The Ballot or The Bullet, he states that the white-dominated government “is responsible for the oppression and exploitation and degradation of Black people in this country” (Malcolm X and Breitman 31). This statement shows that Malcolm X had completely lost faith in the establishment and what he proposed was its complete overhaul and the creation of a society where racial equality was the norm. However, The Ballot or The Bullet shows that Malcolm X’s opinions concerning race had changed significantly because he advocates for African-Americans to achieve their civil rights through the use of their votes. Furthermore, Malcolm X has been presented as a critic of black education in the United States and this is especially based on his life experience where he had a dream of becoming a lawyer but was discouraged by his white teacher who stated that black people had no place as lawyers. This example can be considered to be Malcolm X’s critique of the American education system in such a way that it seems to have been designed to promote the interests of the white establishment to the detriment of African-Americans (Morris 126). African-Americans were discouraged from an early stage of their education not to pursue their dreams; leading to a situation where they were not able to excel in their lives.
The life and philosophy of Malcolm X is full of contradictions and this has been attributed to his not having developed a stable philosophical view. This is especially the case where while he was a member of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X had an extremely radical view concerning the future of African-Americans. He went as far as advocating for violent action by African-Americans as a way of achieving social justice; views that he moderated considerably after his leaving the Nation of Islam and going for Hajj in Mecca. One of the most significant statements that he made after the Hajj as an explanation for the lack of stability for his philosophical views was “My life in particular never has stayed fixed in one position for very long. You have seen how throughout my life, I have often known unexpected drastic changes” (Malcolm X and Haley 385). The radical changes in attitude, especially concerning race, that he experienced before and after the Hajj show that he was an individual who shifted his perspectives according to new information that he obtained. In this way, he was able to admit to have taken on wrong attitudes and work towards changing them so that he was able to be more effective in fighting for African-American rights in the United States. It also shows how his experiences in different phases of his life had ensured the development of a strong character which was extremely useful for the purpose of taking strong stances against the injustices that were taking place in American society.
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Malcolm X was killed at a time when he was considerably young and still had a lot to offer to the African-American people and the United States as a whole. His uncertainty about his political and social philosophy towards the end of his life seems to have been the beginning of a radical shift towards an alignment with the general Civil Rights movement and away from the militarism for which he had previously advocated. His likely contributions would have been in enhancing the progress towards social equality as well as bringing about an end to the War in Vietnam sooner than was the case (Simon, Spellman, and Gardner 26). It should be noted that Malcolm X was a man who learned from his mistakes and corrected them in such a way that ensured his personal growth from a man who advocated for violence to being one that promoted peace and racial harmony as a result of his experiences.
In conclusion, Malcolm X is one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century as a result of not only advocating for the civil rights of African Americans, but also for bringing about racial harmony through peaceful means. His speeches, especially The Ballot or The Bullet, show that he still took an aggressive stance against any form of racial discrimination in the United States. His legacy is that he helped bring about the realization among African-Americans of racial pride and dignity and how these were essential for them to realize their dream of racial equality. His shift from advocating for violence against the white establishment to more peaceful means can be considered to have been his way of accepting the integration of African-Americans into mainstream society. This stance was in line with that of other civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. who believed that the best way to achieve racial equality was through peaceful means. In this way, it seems that an alignment between the views of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. would have taken place had they not have been assassinated so early in their lives.
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