Malcolm X

I have a special place in my heart for movies that tell stories about people’s lives- I guess biographical movies in general. I knew very little about Malcolm X or his life story. As some people have already mentioned, whenever I learned about Civil Rights Leaders in middle school or high school it was always “MLK, MLK, MLK, oh ya a Malcolm X was a guy too, but MLK!”. As with many unit lessons, we always had “a pristine” figurehead to tie to it- Paul Revere with the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln with the Civil War, MLK with Civil Rights. Of course figureheads cannot paint the whole picture, especially when they are washed of all of their “bad traits” to make it easier to teach younger students.

This is all to say this movie definitely changed my perspective on Malcolm X as a person and as a leader. I was always taught he was MLK’s evil twin so-to-speak. While MLK was more of a pacifist overall, Malcolm X was not the uber violent, instigator of violence he was made out to be. Although the movie was a bit long (the only other movie I have watched that wa this long was Avenger’s End Game) I thought the movie did a good job at telling as much as they could about his life with a combination of flashbacks, group scenes and individual scenes which really let you inside Malcolm’s thoughts. I can’t help but think this movie was a first in-depth look into Malcolm X’s story for many viewers, including myself. The production of this movie defintiely came with a lot of responsibility to get his story right, and I think it did a good job of showing the good, the bad and the ugly, and the power of his leadership during the 50 and 60’s.

3 comments

  1. I definitely agree like many others have mentioned that I had a deep misunderstanding of Malcolm X and his role in the civil rights movement. I like how you mention you were taught to consider him as MLK’s evil twin, because this is the misconception I was taught about him too. Being able to see his full life story from when he was just a little kid helps us better understand his immense influence and perseverance.

  2. Your relation to Malcolm X and his teachings mirrors in some part my own. In the narrative of Civil Rights history taught to me, Malcolm X was always made out to be an antagonist to counter the protagonist MLK (whose messages are more palatable for many white audiences). This film gave me the opportunity to “unlearn” this view of Malcolm X as solely evil and violent. After just having read Fanon in a different class, who is another thinker known for being violent, I saw countless overlaps between the two men’s perspectives. More importantly, I realized the immense amount of love at the core of their theories.

  3. I agree, Quinn: MLK and Malcolm X did not seem to be polar opposites in the way our history books often make them out to be. From our knowledge about MLK’s mission and now, with our understanding of Malcolm X, we can see that they were both men who desired for their communities to be respected and be the change they wanted to see. Both of their approaches required that black people take action and stand up for themselves when no one else was doing so. That mission and determination was shared!

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