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Liberty, equal opportunity and justice form the principle aspirations of the human population. To attain these aspirations, individuals ought to face challenges bravely. This is exemplified by the cultural awareness of African-Americans that was clearly outlined by Malcolm X. He was born on May 19, 1925 in Nebraska; his birth name was Malcolm Little. Malcolm X was born in a family of eight children (Sitkoff 2009). Malcolm’s mother, Louise Norton Little, was responsible for taking care of the children. Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, had responsibilities to the society as a Baptist minister. In addition, Malcolm’s father was a staunch supporter of Marcus Garvey who was the Nationalist Leader. As a result of supporting Marcus Garvey, Malcolm’s father was threatened by the white supremacist association Black Legion and this prompted Malcolm’s family to relocate from one place to another.
Malcolm’s father was engaging in activities that expressed support for Marcus Garvey and as result was the torching of their home. After several years, Malcolm’s father was killed. The death of his father was filled with controversy as the police arrived at a conclusion that both the torching of Malcolm’s home together with the death of the father were accidental. Contrary to this decision, the family believed strongly that the Black Legion was responsible for their predicaments. As a result of the demise of Malcolm’s father, emotional breakdown led to the admission of his mother to a psychological institute (Lawson 2008). The children, including Malcolm X, were later separated and taken to different homes.
Being a focused and intelligent student, Malcolm X graduated as the top in his class during his high school days. Some teachers discouraged him from pursuing his dream of becoming a law practitioner saying that that was ‘no reasonable objective for a nigger’. This was the reason why Malcolm left the school and moved to New York. Malcolm got involved in anti-social activities, such as gambling, narcotics and prostitution. He was arrested for burglary in 1946 and sentenced to ten years in prison. After serving seven years, he was granted parole and released. This experience made him meditate about his life. During this period, Malcolm’s brother, who belonged to the Nation of Islam, encouraged him to convert to Islam.
The studying of Elijah Muhammad’s teachings by Malcolm was due to the experiences he had gotten. The lessons obtained in Muhammad’s teachings, the leader of the Nation of Islam, involved the oppression of Black people by the Whites. The teachings contributed to his conversion to Islam, hence a change in his name to Malcolm X. Malcolm regarded “Little” as a name for slaves, and that is why he changed to Malcolm X. At this time, Malcolm excelled in public speaking and debates. He applauded the skill of debating as “…being on a battleground with philosophical and intellectual bullets” (Dyson 1996, P.45) His outstanding debating skills enabled him to be viewed with reverence.
Malcolm became the Nation of Islam’s minister soon after his release from jail. He was so influential and outspoken during this time, concentrating his talks on the revolution of the Black race during the twentieth century. Malcolm proposed that “We are black first and everything else second” (Lawson 2008, p.57) His talk was so powerful that it led to the empowerment of the Black people. He encouraged blacks to rise above the tribulations, brought about by slavery, and stand for their rights. He said: “We are Africans who happen to be in America. We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. That rock landed on us” (Lawson 2008, p.64). He revolutionized the thinking and perception of the Black people. Consequently, this led to the Black people being self-confident and proud. With the belief in truth, Malcolm X overcame the obstacles that posed threat to his mission.
Malcolm strove to pass his insights and encouragement to individuals in the street since he regarded them as, “little black people in the street”. His mode of conveying the intended message was straightforward and unsympathetic. He regarded the message as, “sharp truth”. Furthermore, Malcolm considered that his way of passing information was one that “causes great pain” (Sitkoff 2009, p.38). He reprimanded the Blacks for being naïve, gullible and “… walking dead people” for accepting the foreigner’s names, language and religion. Malcolm X asserted that Christianity teached us that “black is a curse”. He advised the Blacks to rise to the occasion and keep away from drugs, alcohol, immorality and crime.
Initially, the direct method of tackling issues that hindered the well-being of the black population by Malcolm X did not go down well with most people. They viewed him as an insightfool kind and the person who loved violence. Malcolm addressed his audience unsympathetically and never hesitated to talk about any problem. The Nation of Islam influenced his life, and he considered Islam to be “the religion of naked truth”. He commenced developing an independent thinking since, while working in the Nation of Islam, he could not address those issues openly. Malcolm’s effort saw the redemption of the black population from slavery.
Owing to his relentless efforts to save the black population from misdeeds, Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965, aged 39, while addressing a multitude of approximately four hundred blacks in Harlem (Lawson 2008). Though he is no longer among the living, his revolutionary struggle is still felt up to now. He is highly revered as his life and messages articulate the prominence of his legacy. Moreover, many books, films and cultural festivals talk about him as, “Master Teacher”. Surely, Malcolm X played a very crucial role in shaping the cultural sphere that currently forms the African culture. From his life history, I have discovered that Malcolm X was surely the savior of the Black population from oppression. His relentless efforts played a crucial role in shaping the life currently experienced by the Blacks. My values, which include love, patience, optimism and endurance, have got a new dimension after learning about the contributions of Malcolm X to the lives of the Blacks. The way I relate to others and how I view things has been greatly changed. I have learnt that through persistence, all can be achieved. As much as life is full of challenges, the will to overcome is the key to success.