Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary Critical Essays

Walter Dean Myers


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

In his preface to Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary, Myers identifies Malcolm X as the pivotal figure of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. His contributions to African American thought and history have survived the test of time as he continues to inspire young people. For many, he remains a symbol of black pride. As a Black Nationalist, he fought the stereotype of “the humble Negro,” begging at the table for his rights, and did not disavow violence as a tool for social change. Malcolm X preached revolution “by any means necessary.” The author uses the metaphor “the blade of the sword” to describe his subject’s role in the Civil Rights movement.

Myers presents an accurate, realistic account of his subject’s life and thought. Although the book’s scope is limited to the life of one man, the author has also included the relevant information and analysis needed to place Malcolm X’s life within a broader historical perspective. Events are presented in chronological order. The author has adroitly interwoven historical facts into the narrative that place the subject’s life and thought within the social context of the times. He uses quotations from Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1964) to support his analysis of turning points in his subject’s life. Myers’ rationale for this approach is expressed in his opening statement in chapter 1 that people “react to ideas that have come before them, and to people who have expressed those ideas.”


(The entire section is 621 words.)