On Malcolm X by Ossie Davis

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 177

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Summary and Analysis
Actor Ossie Davis eulogized Malcolm X at his funeral. He writes this short essay in response to a magazine editor’s question, “Why did you eulogize Malcolm X?”

To Davis, Malcolm represented “refreshing excitement.” He considered Malcolm “one of the most fascinating and charming men I have ever met,” and a “hero.” He admired and was intrigued by Malcolm’s relentless energy. “He [Malcolm X] kept shouting the painful truth we whites and blacks did not want to hear from all the housetops. And he wouldn’t stop for love nor money.”

Davis thinks Malcolm was “a true man.” He concedes, however, that “to protect my relations with the many good white folks who make it possible for me to earn a fairly good living ... I was too chicken, too cautious, to admit that fact when he was alive.”

The reader marvels at this mainstream African-American actor’s honesty. How will Malcolm X be perceived by future generations of Americans? Davis’ response, “I am content to wait for history to make the final decision.”

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