Leadership Perspective and Role of Leadership as represented in Malcolm X Movie (1992)

Leadership Perspective and Role of Leadership as represented in Malcolm X Movie (1992)

Malcolm X was a civil rights champion and forthright defender of the African-American

Islamic faith. Unlike his contemporary civil rights activists, Malcolm X challenged the

conventional civil rights movement and the peaceful struggle against racial segregation and legal

action for equality of all Americans spearheaded by Martin Luther King Jr (Goldman, 1979, p.

6). He was born as Malcolm Little in 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. He was a son of a Baptist

preacher, who was an ardent follower of the civil rights activist Marcus Garvey (Goldman, 1979,

p. 5). After dropping out of school, Malcolm got into crime. At a tender age of 21, Malcolm

was imprisoned for burglary. While in prison, Malcolm learnt the teachings and beliefs of Elijah

Muhammad, the then leader of the Black Muslims (Goldman, 1979, p. 15). Malcolm changed his

last name Little to X, as an indication of rejecting what he believed was a slave name. Later in

1964, when Malcolm X visited Mecca on pilgrimage, he took over the name el-Hajj Malik el-

Shabazz. Apparently, Muhammad’s idea that, “the White people were the devil who the blacks

could not live with” had a strong influence on Malcolm X (Goldman, 1979, p. 15). Following his

interaction with and teachings of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm turned to an ascetic lifestyle. He

read extensively and started to shed the degraded life he had known.

After six years of imprisonment, he would later become the leader of the Black Muslim

Nation. Malcolm combined Islamic teachings with Black Nationalism and consistently sought to

inspire and liberate the deprived youth blacks who were seeking identity and confidence in a

segregated American society (Goldman, 1979, p. 16). Malcolm X urged his followers to stand up

and fight for their rights against white aggression using any possible means including violence.

The argument that only African-Americans could cure the political and socio-economic ills

afflicting them, confirmed for him how powerful Muhammad’s faith was.


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