Have no spring break plans? Neither do we. If you’re broke like us, here’s an idea that won’t cost you much and is worthy of your time: Read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” This article is not intended to be a book review, but rather a plea to our fellow Hoyas to better understand one of the many Americans we honor by celebrating Black History Month. Learning from black history has never been – and should never be – limited to one race, especially when it comes to honoring Malcolm X. Our respective backgrounds as the authors of this article are a testament to Malcolm’s influence across racial lines. And we’re not alone. Just take a look at the Hoyas of all colors and creeds who took to Red Square this past Wednesday as a part of Georgetown’s inaugural “X Week” to honor Malcolm 42 years after he was killed. Students read original poetry and recited Malcolm’s speeches and their favorite excerpts from the autobiography. Time magazine named the autobiography one of the 10 most important nonfiction books of the 20th century for this fundamental reason: It applies to anyone. But alcolm X is more vilified than he is understood. The fiery radicalism often attributed to Malcolm does not capture his whole person; his autobiography is really the only mechanism that does. any people’s impressions of Malcolm X are informed by Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance in Spike Lee’s 1992 film, “Malcolm X.” The movie provides a good historical narrative of his life, but, just as with many other films, we associate the character with the actor: “X” today is arguably more about Denzel Washington than it is about alcolm X. Put simply, Denzel isn’t Malcolm. By the time our generation watched this movie, Washington had already become known for other movies (“Training Day,”Philadelphia,” etc). Oftentimes we are too dependent on these modes of learning. When this happens and we lean too heavily on incomplete sources, we really need to return to the primary source: the man himself. The truth is that Malcolm X makes us feel uncomfortable by threatening the status quo. He challenges us to step outside of our comfort zones. But what revolutionary figure doesn’t do so? Which professors that make any difference in our lives don’t issue that challenge? Many know that he was publicly assassinated, but few understand how he lived. God willing, some of us will go on to make a difference in this world the way Malcolm did. Professor Maurice Jackson hammered this point home at X Week’s kickoff event Tuesday night. He mentioned two things that really stick out in his mind when he thinks about Malcolm X. The first was a quote from Malcolm X: “I am not educated nor am I an expert in any particular field. But I am sincere and my sincerity is my credentials.” How does this idea apply to Georgetown? If educated Georgetown students, who will likely become experts in more than one field, are able to present sincerity as a credential, then we would be providing future generations the shoulders on which they could stand just as Malcolm provided us his. Jackson’s second reflection on Malcolm’s life was how Malcolm always had a dictionary when he was writing or working on his acclaimed speeches. It is no secret that Malcolm X memorized the dictionary while in prison, among the many books that he read and studied. But this serves to underscore his belief that people didn’t use the right words. This point leads to another fundamental truth that neither of us has to convince anyone on this campus: Words can and have in many times throughout our common history changed the world. In a life story that he didn’t even live to see published, alcolm X uses all the right words. Indra Sen is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and co-president of the Asian American Student Association. Abed Z. Bhuyan is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and president of the Muslim Students Association.

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