Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just a little something that I grabbed off of the internet about my man Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz! Special Safehaven215 Shoutout to for this tight article on Malcolm X and his "homemade" or self-education!
Homemade education
Malcolm became a letter writer and as a result he says that he “stumbled upon starting to acquire some kind of homemade education”. He became extremely frustrated at not being able to express what he wanted to convey in letters that he wrote. He says that “in the street I had been the most articulate hustler out there … But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn’t articulate, I wasn’t even functional”. His ability to read books was severely hampered. “Every book I picked up had few sentences which didn’t contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might have been in Chinese”. He skipped the words he didn’t know and so had little idea of what the books said.
He got himself a dictionary and began painstakingly copying every entry. It took him a day to do the first page. He would copy it all out and then read back aloud what he had written. He began to remember the words and what they meant. He was fascinated with the knowledge that he was gaining. He finished the A’s and went on to the B’s. Over a period of time he finished copying out the whole dictionary. Malcolm regarded the dictionary as a miniature encyclopedia. He learned about people and animals, about places and history, philosophy and science. As his word base broadened, he found that he could pick up a book “and now begin to understand what the book was saying”. He says that “from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading in my bunk. You couldn’t have gotten me out of a book with a wedge”.
He preferred to read in his cell but one of the problems he had was that at 10 o’clock each night when ‘lights out’ was called he found that it always seemed to coincide with him in the middle of something engrossing. Fortunately, there was a light on the landing outside his particular cell and once his eyes got accustomed to the glow, he was able to sit on the floor by the cell door and continue his reading. He found that the guards would come around once every hour so that when he heard their footsteps approaching, he would rush back to his bunk until they had gone past and pretend to be asleep. As soon as they had gone, he would be back by the door reading. This would continue until three or four every morning. He says that “three or four hours of sleep a night was enough for me. Often in the years in the streets I had slept less than that”.
Malcolm read and read and read. He devoured books on history and was astounded at the knowledge he obtained about the history of black civilizations throughout the world. He read books by Gandhi on the struggle in India, he read about African colonization and China’s Opium Wars. He found within the library’s collection some bound pamphlets of the Abolitionist Anti-Slavery Society and was able to read for himself descriptions of atrocities committed against the slaves and of the degradations suffered by his forbears. “I never will forget how shocked I was when I began reading about slavery’s total horror … Book after book showed me how the white man had brought upon the world’s black, brown, red and yellow peoples every variety of the sufferings of exploitation”. His reading was not limited to history, however. He read about genetics and philosophy. He read about religion.He relates that “ten guards and the warden couldn’t have torn me out of those books … I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life”.
It's Good To Be Back
Trevor Winston Lee