Chapter 15: Icarus

Malcolm becomes a much sought-after speaker on the lecture circuit. He is an incredibly powerful and charismatic speaker, preaching about past and current injustices and the atrocities that have been committed by white men against black people.

The reader is deeply affected by Malcolm’s use of intensely graphic details to describe white people’s inhumanity toward non-white people throughout history. For example, he cites America’s bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, noting that America chose to drop the atomic bomb on its non-white, Japanese enemy rather than on its white, Nazi German enemy. He speaks of the injustice of the internment camps that America used to imprison Japanese-American citizens during World War II. He asks, “What about the one hundred thousand loyal naturalized and native-born Japanese American citizens who were herded into camps, behind barbed wire?”

To convince his audience of the overwhelming need for black separatism, he draws an analogy between Jewish people’s desire to set up a homeland in Israel, and the Nation of Islam’s desire to live apart from white people.

At the chapter’s conclusion, Malcolm experiences a shocking discovery when he appears at Boston’s Harvard Law School Forum as a guest speaker. He realizes that his old burglary gang’s hideout is right down the street. He thinks, “Scenes from my once depraved life lashed through my mind. Living like an animal; thinking like an animal!”