Malcolm X was an African American Muslim minister who, as a teen, spent most of his time hustling people and getting into trouble. This soon landed him in prison. During his prison sentence he became self-educated, which led him to be an articulate speaker, to discover the true history of African American slaves, and to become a strong advocate ofhuman rights. Malcolm X’s “ A HomemadeEducation”, starts off in a soft and calm tone. X uses a persuasive style narrative from theAutobiographyof Malcolm X to share his story.
By the end of the essay his tone has changed to a more angry and demanding style. While in prison, X explains how he began writing letters to Mr. Elijah Muhammad, a Muslim leader, but, not being able to write in an articulate manner, X began getting frustrated because he could not express what he wanted to say. He also states that he could not keep a conversation with his prison friend Bimbi or even understand the books he read because of his lack of knowledge.
X says that he got a hold of a dictionary and began to copy word for word everything, learning more words and what they meant. He also says went to the prison library and read books aboutscience, history, and slavery. X was most inspired by Mr. Muhammad’s teachings. X explains that in one of Mr. Muhammad’s teachings, Mr. Muhammad stressed how history had been “ whitened,” in other words, that black history was left out of history books (95). He says he immediately began to search in the library for books that would inform him about black history.
He says he read many books about black history and the early struggles for freedom. X states he will never forget how shocked he was when he read about the brutality of slavery or the illustrations of black slave women being tied up and beaten, children being taken away from families, and dogs hunting down slaves. X explains how he read books about the histories of various nations and learned that the white men had made all non-white people suffer, especially in India and China.
He explains how the British white man controlled much of India and how people of India refused to obey orders and were beaten and killed. X also explains the Opium War in China and that some observers in China have reported that the world had never known such a hate campaign as is now going on in this non-white country (98). Reading about the various histories of the world, X found a common theme; white men were not liked by many civilizations. X states that he never knew that reading in prison would change the course of his life.
He says his homemade education has given him more than a college degree could ever give him and that it is worth more than a college education because it is knowledge that no one can take away from him. Malcolm X states he has learned a lot from his reading about black history, he stresses that black men should not only fight forcivil rights, but they need to think bigger and win their human rights.
- X, Malcolm. “ A Homemade Education. ” The Conscious Reader. Ed. Caroline Shrodes, Michael Shugrue, Marc DiPaolo, Christian J. Matuschek. Glenview, IL: Pearson Education, 2011. 92-100. Print.