What part of The Autobiography of Malcolm X resonates and why? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The final chapter in which we hear Malcolm's voice resonates with me the most.

I think that the "1965" chapter lingers with me because it is the last time we hear his voice. Throughout the autobiography, Malcolm has written in different voices. When he spoke about his youth, there was melancholy about how discrimination had taken so much from him. When he spoke of his "hustler" days, the voice of fear and shock became clear.  The older Malcolm is fearful that the life he led is one that many African-Americans live, and the shock lies in how he managed to survive. When we hear Malcolm speak of his time in prison, there is hope in how Islam had "saved" him, a passion matched with the disappointment in his voice about being betrayed by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.  

In "1965," Malcolm's voice is reflective.  He speaks in a way that combines a difficult past with an uncertain future. The way in which Malcolm reflects on what it means to be Black in America, as well as how the issue of racial identity is a complex one that all levels of American society must address, are powerful examples of his reflection.  In the final part of the chapter, Malcolm talks about how any positive aspects of his life are due to Allah while "all the mistakes" are his own. Malcolm's reflection has allowed him to willingly embrace a role of sacrifice for something larger than himself:    

And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America—then, all of the credit is due to Allah. 

Such an intricate voice is compelling to me.  It shows how far Malcolm had come from his thinking as a younger man on the streets of urban America and as a minister for the Nation of Islam.  The voice that we hear in "1965" speaks to how sociological realities in America cannot be effectively addressed through simplistic or reductive solutions.  Rather, they have to be understood in a nuanced and intricate manner, something that Malcolm's voice now possesses in the "1965" chapter.  

Malcolm's reflection becomes more poignant when it is clear that he lived under the shadow of death.  He knew that "orders" were given to kill him, and yet he understands what he must do.  The depth to this reflection is haunting and resonates with me.

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X

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