Malcolm X

Watching Malcolm X was a completely eye opening experience for me. I knew before watching the movie how controversial Malcolm X was during and following the civil rights movement in the 1960s and how he was labeled as hateful and violent by many, but I never knew the intricacy and complexity of his journey and beliefs. In school when we learned about leaders of the civil rights movement we read about Martin Luther King Jr. and his call of nonviolence and unity. But I only remember hearing Malcolm X’s name briefly and in a very pointed way. Whenever I heard conversations of Malcolm X, it was always accompanied by a contrast to Martin Luther King Jr. – them being the antithesis of each other when it came to methods and foundational beliefs. I thought it was interesting how even occasionally in the movie Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. were contrasted – however, through Malcolm’s different stages and self-critique, the lines blurred quite a bit between Dr. King and Malcolm’s central purpose (even though the focus of this movie was not at all about the comparison between the two, it was just something I picked up on). Malcolm’s beliefs, preachings, and purpose were clearly significantly shaped by his experiences growing up in the era of the Ku Klux Klan, being in prison, and his changing relationship with the religion of Islam and the Black Muslim movement. I think the last monologue following Malcom’s assassination was extremely important because it presented Malcolm X for who he was and in a way that is extremely contrasting to his legacy in our textbooks. He had a significant influence that spread outside of America and through generations. And I liked how the movie partly ended with Nelson Mandela teaching Malcolm’s words and children in schools saying his name because it spoke to how Malcolm’s fight for the liberation of Black people is one that is ongoing. The movie doesn’t end with Malcolm’s death just as his purpose didn’t.


  1. I agree!! I also loved how the movie didn’t end with Malcom X’s death, because I found it to be so symbolic. Malcomn X had such a lasting impact on the black civil rights movement, it didn’t matter that it ended with his death or not because his legacy lives.

  2. I too enjoyed the ending which focused on schools and incorporated Nelson Mandella. It reminded me of my elementary school days learning about Malcolm X. However, as many of our class posts have discussed Malcolm X is often overshadowed by MLK jr in schools. I think this scene highlights the importance of teaching Malcolm X’s lessons in the classroom and bringing his story to light.

  3. Yes! Thank you for pointing out the good-bad binary that is often projected onto MLK and Malcom X. I was raised with the same misleading information that most of our generation receives that MLK was the peaceful activist that fought for civil rights in a better way than Malcolm X. This film removed that mentality and allowed me to understand AND appreciate the complexities of these issues.

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