Malcom X Literacy Behind Bars
Alabama State University
October 9, 2012
Literacy is the ability to read and write and allows people to become influential speakers and powerful leaders. Strictly defined, literacy is the quality or state of being literate, having possession of education, and a person's knowledge of a particular subject or field. Literacy is not having or involving ignorance; it is having knowledge or competence. The term literacy is derived from the Middle English and Latin term literate meaning marked with letters. In the story Malcom X Literacy Behind Bars, Malcom X defines how literacy changed his life by introducing new things such as, oral communication, freedom, and helped to become an independent spokesman. Malcom X relied on oral communication. In prison, he became frustrated with his inability to read or write well, and he began to take advantage of the prison library. Before he went to jail, Malcolm describes himself as hustler, as one who could speak very well: he was an excellent speaker, a master of orality. (Anthony) He found his street-wise slang inadequate to express new ideas and a new worldview. Malcolm X found himself in a situation that demanded literacy; he needed to racionate–to think logically and deeply in order to communicate. Malcolm X in a sense bought into the idea that literacy is imperious. (Samper)Because Malcom X had access to a library he was able to become more interested in public speaking. “Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I’ve said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade this impression is due entirely to my prison studies.” (Bullock, 577) Prison made him want to communicate on a higher level relating to others. As Malcom X continued his success in literacy he soon became free. The introduction of literacy made him notice the injustices towards blacks, so he then realized that he was capable of...
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