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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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Chapters 14 & 15

Notes

In these chapters, Malcolm plays an important role in bringing the Nation into prominence. For he is the one who meets the press, attends the seminars and lectures at educational institutions. Therefore with the popularity of the Nation, Malcolm X also achieved fame. Yet his humble nature never allows him to forget his leader Elijah Muhammad and the religion of Islam, which had given him the 'wings' to fly high. However his meteoric rise becomes the cause for jealousy in the organization, as we shall see later.

While talking about integration and the civil rights movement, Malcolm X seems to be making his position clear. Though he has sharp differences with the black activists, he believes that blacks in America should always be united. Besides, Malcolm through his book seems to be exposing the 'Sham' behind the 'Long March to Washington.' According to him the 'March' was managed by white interests who did not want any anger or discontent to be expressed against the racist system in America. Therefore the grass root activists who had planned the march were pushed aside and replaced by moderate black leaders who were funded by white philanthropists. Since the funds came from whites, the entire campaign was watered down to a song: 'We shall Overcome' and culminated in the Speech: 'I have a dream…' In other words, the 'March' had lost its teeth. For it failed to express the true feelings of anger and discontentment seething within the black masses during this time.


In chapter 14, Malcolm criticizes the press for only focussing on the sensational anti-white tirades of the Nation of Islam. This is true for apart from the anti-white hate propaganda that the Nation of Islam preached, it carried out several constructive programs for the black youth in the ghettos.

One of the programs was to rehabilitate black youth that were addicted to drugs. For this, Malcolm and his dedicated members of the Nation of Islam approached youth, spoke in their lingo, and told them that they could be saved from the clutches of drugs. Malcolm organized these programs as he could speak the slang language used in the ghetto. Moreover, he had seen the fate of two of his friends Sammy and West Indian Archie due to drugs. When the youth were ready to receive rehabilitation, they were taken to the various centers of the Nation of Islam. They were treated with respect, even though they were hard-core criminals. And one or two members of the Nation stayed with the drug addict and helped him get over the terrible withdrawal symptoms that an addict experience when he wants to free himself from drugs.

Besides, youth were given membership to the 'Fruits of Islam" where black youth were trained in unarmed combat and drill. They were taught to take pride in their race and history. Several, who had been pushed into crime and drugs, joined the organization. For the Nation accepted them without judging them. It is here that they discovered their lost self-respect and dignity. Moreover it also gave them a sense of purpose, something to live, work and strive together for-i.e. Racial justice.

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