What lessons did you learn from Malcolm X's experience ?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In terms of life lessons gained from the Autobiography, I think one can see them in terms of political and personal lessons.  In the realm of the former, the work speaks very strongly to the issue of Civil Rights of people of color in America, and around the world.  Malcolm's experiences in speaking about the notion of rights for individuals as being critical to the fulfillment of the democratic experience and as an issue of human rights is a powerful idea.  The fact that he undergoes so many changes about the political nature of race relations also educates the reader as to the complex and fluid dynamic of the topic.  Finally, I would stress that the idea of civil rights being a world issue is another teaching of the Autobiography.  Towards the end of his life, Malcolm understood that the rights of individuals against discrimination is a human struggle that bears applicability to multiple social orders around the world.

On a personal level, one of the strongest teachings of the work is the idea that human identity is one within constant change.  Malcolm's journey towards spiritual fulfillment is one that sees him undergo changes that might have initially been seen as inconceivable and unbelievable.  However, one of the strongest lessons from the work is that human identity is malleable and extremely contingent on conditions and circumstances.  As each phase of his life develops, another seems to form in an ongoing psychological dialectic.  To those who argue that human beings are incapable of change and growth when immersed in circumstances that might be seen as hopeless, the Autobiography stands as the ultimate refutation.