Malcolm X born Malcolm Little, the man the world knows as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. His journey into literacy was not one that is common to most individuals. Learning to read while incarcerated is not an experience most are subjected to. Nevertheless Malcolm X made the most of his circumstances and with the assistance of his mentor Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he was able to educate himself albeit through the teachings of the Nation Of Islam.
The basis for Malcolm wishing to be educated was in his desire to truly communicate with Honorable Elijah Muhammad on a level to which he thought was worthy of the man he deified. The street lingo and slang he was proficient in, was not worthy of the man with whom he corresponded. So he went about improving his grammar and vocabulary, which in turn led to an education in history and world events. His method was to write a page from the dictionary and studying the words he wrote from it every day. At this glacial pace he was able to build his vocabulary, and at the same time learn about the words in the dictionary themselves. In fact Malcolm X referred to the dictionary as, "like a miniature encyclopedia."
His education inspired an urge to read, which was satiated in the prison library. However, all of the knowledge that was gained by Malcolm X during his incarceration was colored by the Black Nationalist teachings of Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation.
One of the things I noticed the most about Malcolm X’s education, is how he was enlightened by his mentor about how history and the books he read were "whitened", or the accomplishments of black people and society was either ignored or the credit taken by others. Each morsel of information that he gained was seen through the prism of his teachings, and further helped to solidify and ensconce those beliefs. The innate deviousness of whites was seen to be obvious by examining their history, from the Atlantic slave trade, to the opening of China by the...
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