since 1965  (really?)

Malcolm X: In His Own Words (1959-1965)

This course listing applies to a Fall 2009 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Fall 2009
African American Studies 98/198
2 Unit(s)



About the Course:

“By any means necessary” is a quote most are aware of. The commodification of and the imagery of the fierce Malcolm X is known by many generations. The Malcolm X that held an “off—the—cuff chat between you and me,” university students, public leaders, oppressed, exploited, and downtrodden is not known. While some students may be familiar with Malcolm X through the Autobiography or Spike Lee’s 1992 feature film, few have listened to more than select sound bites of his own words.  In this course we will explore the political thought of Malcolm X through a critical reading of his work as reflected in speeches and interviews recorded between the summer of 1959, when he first garnered national attention as the charismatic spokesman of the Nation of Islam, until just days prior to his assassination in February of 1965.  Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on interpreting Malcolm’s arguments in his own words while also drawing comparisons and distinctions between his thinking and that of other political theorists within both the ‘Western’ and ‘Ethnic Studies’ intellectual cannons. 

Course Requirements:

There will be no exams or papers in this class and the coursework should be quite manageable for any student who is seriously interested in the subject.  A passing grade for the course will be based on three components: (1) participation in class discussions, (2) Listening to or reading weekly recordings with written responses, and (3) one presentation of an approved secondary or theoretical source of your choice. Class discussions will center on a textual analysis of Malcolm’s speeches: e.g. – What is he saying and how are his arguments organized?  Are his arguments persuasive or not, and why?  How does X’s thinking compare with the claims of other political theorists?  Each week, all students are required to hand in a ½ page preferably typed response to the assigned primary source readings by Malcolm X.  These responses may reflect the students’ thoughts, opinions, questions or favorite quotes from Malcolm’s speech.  One week out of the semester, each student will also be responsible for presenting (with 1-2 other classmates) and preparing an outline for a secondary or theoretical reading to the class. 

Learning Objectives:

Over the course of the semester students will become familiar with a broad selection of Malcolm X’s speeches and will develop a strong conceptual foundation for comparing X’s own ideas to those of his counterparts in the traditional cannons of academic knowledge production. The primary objective of this course is to expose Malcolm X objectively and unfiltered so that students learn the logos behind Malcolm that made him not only highly controversial but influential as well to this day.  It is hoped that students will come away from this class with a new appreciation of Malcolm X as an important political philosopher and theorist whose work remains relevant to many of today’s pressing concerns, both in the United States and in the international arena, and that they will be capable of quoting and referencing Malcolm X in future discussions or papers specific to students’ own academic interests.  If one does not benefit from the otherwise unheard selections of footage, then they will benefit from the well-versed guest speakers or enthusiasts that this subject beckons.

Rules of Engagement for In-Class Discussions:

To this day, Malcolm X and the arguments he elaborated throughout his career remain the subjects of intense controversy.  Malcolm was an unflinching and vocal critic both of what he called the ‘white power structure’ of American and international politics, as well as the programmatic philosophies of integration and non-violence generally associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement.  Malcolm’s force as a speaker was in his willingness to raise issues that few others were comfortable discussing in mixed company. Yet his strength as a debater was his disciplined regard for addressing his opponents, without exception, in a respectful and dignified manner.  In this course we will strive to follow Malcolm’s example in both regards. 
The concepts that will be covered here are not exclusively abstract; indeed, many have real life implications that will inevitably challenge students of all backgrounds to (re)evaluate their own concrete social locations within the power structure as well as their specific roles in any plausible way forward.  This can be an extremely difficult and uncomfortable process, and it is therefore essential that all students actively contribute to making the classroom a safe environment for one another.  Any questions, comments or suggestions related to the comportment of the DeCal facilitator are welcome and may be directed either to the facilitator himself or to the faculty sponsor of the course, Professor Charles Henry (OH and contact info listed above).         

Course Materials:
1.    Course Reader (Text).  A printed and bound course reader will be provided to students through a local copy store.  It contains a selection of direct transcriptions from the speeches of Malcolm X that will covered and discussed in the class.   
2.    Course Reader (Digital).  A DVD containing more than 40 hours of audio and video recordings of Malcolm X’s speeches, debates and interviews, as well as several very good documentaries on X’s life, will be supplied directly to students free of charge.

2.   Food and Beverage(Physical). There will be occasional free food and/or drinks offered by the facilitators. Only you have the power (and donations) to make it a continuous trend.


How to Enroll:

We will be discussing the 1959 television documentary, “The Hate That Hate Produced,” which contains some of the earliest film footage available of Malcolm X.  As Malcolm’s first introduction to a wider (read, ‘white’) public, the style, rhetoric and biases of the documentary itself are also very interesting to consider.  As a result, the labels of “Hate Teacher” and “Hate Speech” became forever associated with Malcolm X.   

Please watch the first hour of this video online at one of the two web addresses listed below.  Take some notes and write down some of your thoughts.  After viewing the film, take a moment to google search “Jeremiah Wright Hate Speech”.  Do you see any similarities in the way Malcolm and Reverend Wright have been portrayed?  Are these portrayals justified in your opinion?     


“The Hate That Hate Produced” or    

Course Control Numbers (CCNs) will be distributed in class. 

Course Contact: spwjr AT


Faculty Sponsor: Professor Charles Henry

Time & Location:

005Phillip Williams
260242 DWINELLEThursdays 5-7pm9/03full

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Course info last modified July 24, 2009. This page has been viewed 3952 times.

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