Literature Review Of Life And Legacy Of Malcolm X – The Driving Force Behind The1960’s Black Power Movement

The purpose of my paper is to give more information on Malcolm X’s life and legacy. He was the driving force behind the black power movement in the 1960’s and his teachings set the ball rolling for the black power movement. He advocated for blacks who were treated unfairly by the social and legal systems. Malcolm X felt that it was time for black people to start fighting back against the violence of the white people. He felt it was time for blacks to get equality by any means necessary.

I decided to do my paper on Malcolm X. I feel most people tend to give him praise without knowing who he was. I don’t think people should buy a poster or t-shirt with his picture on it just because it’s black history month or it’s seen as cool. When it comes to people who had a hand in shaping America, and getting us to where we are now, then we should be educated on them.

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We should take the time to learn about their lives and accomplishments. So, I’m telling the story of Malcolm X.

Martin Luther King Jr. met Malcolm X just once. The photo still haunts us with what was lost. In his article about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. meeting on Capitol Hill in 1964, Brown talks about how the views of these men differ and how they viewed each other. There was a picture of the two men shaking hands.

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It was the first and last time Malcolm and Martin would meet. While Malcolm never met with MLK again, he did however meet with his wife in 1965. A few days after their meeting, Malcolm was assassinated. I found this article to be intriguing. While everyone wants to pit Malcolm and MLK against each other, I haven’t read another article about them meeting. I like how in the end, they were becoming more like each other than they realized. MLK mourned the loss of Malcolm X even though he didn’t agree with him. I found it very touching that King still felt strongly about Malcolm X since they were fighting the same war, but with different strategies.

Malcolm X: The FBI file.

I chose this book because it focuses more on Malcolm X’s political career. This book shows how closely the FBI and CIA followed Malcolm X throughout his political career. This book has letters written by Malcolm and the files the FBI kept on him. It chronicles his life from after his release from prison in 1953, to his death in 1965. Carson did a great job obtaining these FBI records and putting together this timeline of Malcolm’s life and legacy. I thought the reading of the FBI files was fascinating. They paid attention to everything Malcolm did and said. One of the files states that on October 25,1943, Malcolm Little was mentally disqualified from military services because of psychopathic personality inadequate, sexual perversion, and psychiatric rejection.

Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X

I chose this book because it focuses on trying to pin down exactly who Malcolm X was. The author listed four different Malcolm’s who emerged throughout his life and career: Malcolm the hero and saint, Malcolm the public moralist, Malcolm the victim and vehicle of psychohistorical forces, and Malcolm the revolutionary figure. The author also discusses all the groups who came forward after Malcolm’s death who claimed to be his ideological heirs and competed over which interpretation of his legacy. These were groups like Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Congress of Racial Equality, the Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Africa, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. I liked this book because it doesn’t focus on just Malcolm X the legacy. It shines light on every side of Malcolm. The author did a wonderful job showing the good and bad sides on Malcolm’s personality instead of favoring only Malcolm the hero. This book is less about what Malcolm accomplished, and more about who he was as a person and how after death, suddenly became a figure of hero worship.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

I chose this book because it goes into a little more detail on Malcolm’s life. There’s a chapter, “He Was Developing Too Fast,’ which goes into detail on an encounter Malcolm had with Elijah Muhammad. Malcolm confronts Muhammad on the adultery he’s been committing. Malcolm told him that he didn’t approve and didn’t think it was right and Muhammad basically said he didn’t care and wasn’t going to change. This is a turning point because Malcolm is starting to see Muhammad’s true colors. The chapter goes on to talk about beatings happening inside the Nation for not following orders. One account mentions that punishment for not following rules ranged from simple beatings to far worse. The author did a great job giving readers an inside look on how the inside of the Nation of Islam worked under Elijah Muhammad. It seemed to run more like we imagine organized crime operations like the Mafia or Mob would. It’s easy to see why Malcolm X didn’t stay in the NOI and makes it clear as to why they assassinated him.

The X Factor: How Malcolm X Internationalized the Civil Rights Movement.

This article is good because unlike other sources I’ve come across, it talks about Malcolm X’s popularity in different countries. African and Middle Eastern countries were fascinated by Malcolm. Other members of the SNCC stated that while visiting these countries the people were curious as to what was happening in the U.S. and wanted to know all about Malcolm X. Malcolm was the only one to use a global analogy to explain the issues going on in the U.S. at the time. He knew how much this country cared about its global image, and he used that against white America, to bring attention to its wrong doings. Serrrano did a great job on this article. I feel he shined light on a new angle of the Malcolm X story. We usually only hear about the things he did in the U.S., so it was refreshing to read something a little different on how he effected the world. I never questioned before how the rest of the world viewed the U.S during the civil rights movement, or even if they cared. After reading that, I’m kind of in awe by the fact that one man made that big of an impact. It’s incredible.

Great speeches, volume 16: Malcolm X, Naomi Wolf, Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan

This documentary can be found in Bellevue University's online library in the Infobase database. This video clip is a segment, Malcolm X: A Controversial Leader, from the documentary, Great Speeches: Volume 16. It tells a little bit about his back story, going to prison and joining the Nation of Islam. It also speaks on him leaving the NOI and being labeled as a traitor by some of its member because of his criticism of Elijah Mohammad. The second segment of the same documentary is, Democracy is Hypocrisy. In this famous speech, Malcolm X is questioning the meaning of democracy and asking, “If democracy means freedom, why aren’t our people free? If democracy means justice, why don’t we have justice? If democracy means equality, why don’t we have equality?” Malcolm X’s deliver of this speech is phenomenal. He’s asking the questions that most blacks at the time were asking themselves. How is democracy NOT hypocrisy if all these rights don’t apply to blacks? Malcolm even talks about how 20 million black people in the country have been like boys in the white man’s house. He goes on to say that, “they even call us ‘boy’…it doesn’t matter how big you are or what your profession in.” This struck a chord with me because even in 2018, I’ve heard white people calling black men “boy”. Malcolm, like many other, wanted blacks to be able to have the human rights that white people all over the country had. Malcolm X died fighting for blacks to be treated as equals. He believed they needed to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal, by any means necessary.

The turbulent sixties (1995)

This documentary can also be found in Bellevue University's online library in the Infobase database. This video clip is from the documentary, The Turbulent Sixties. It is of Malcolm X’s 1964 Ballot or Bullet speech. He was the driving force behind black nationalism. Malcolm called for militant action during the civil rights movement because he felt that Martin Luther King’s nonviolence approach wasn’t getting anything accomplished. 11 months after giving this speech, Malcolm was assassinated in the very same auditorium. I mentioned this speech in, Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements, but seeing it on video is much more insightful than reading it on paper. Hearing the passion in his voice while he is delivering such a powerful message is very telling. It leaves very little doubt as to why so many people followed him. Malcolm X was an inspirational force.

Malcolm X Speaks: Selected Speeches and Statements

I chose this book because it gives an account of Malcolm X’s speeches and statements. It gives an account of his Ballot or the Bullet speech from 1964, Cleveland. This was Malcolm X’s famous speech where he had said, “I believe in action on all fronts, by any means necessary.” He goes on to talk about not being anti-white, but being anti-exploitation, anti-degradation, and anti-oppression. Malcolm then comments that if we don’t do something soon, then we’re going to be forced to use the ballot or the bullet. This book is important because it’s a record of Malcolm’s speeches. These are the words that influenced thousands of people. There’s power in words, and the ones he spoke were very powerful. I wasn’t alive in the 60s but reading some of these makes me feel empowered because of all the racial wrong doings going on today.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

I chose this book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, because it chronicles his life from childhood to his untimely death. It gives a very thorough account on what life was like for him and his family growing up. For instance, when Malcolm’s mother was pregnant with him, the KKK came to their house with their shotguns in hand, shouting threats that the family needed to move because they would not stand for his father causing trouble by preaching the teachings of Marcus Garvey. Then in 1929, after his little sister was born, Malcolm was suddenly awakened to gunshots and fire. They barely made it out of the house before it came crashing down as the white firefighters and policemen stood around and just watched. This is the book Spike Lee’s script for Malcolm X the movie was based on. I can see why Spike Lee would choose this book for his movie. It’s so full of detail about Malcolm’s life. He speaks about his father’s death and goes on to say how his skull was crushed in and his body was almost cut in half because whoever attacked him had laid him over some tracks for a streetcar to run over. With that kind of trauma plaguing his childhood, it’s not hard to see where his ‘fight back’ attitude came from.

Updated: Feb 28, 2024
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Literature Review Of Life And Legacy Of Malcolm X – The Driving Force Behind The1960’s Black Power Movement. (2024, Feb 28). Retrieved from

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