Edward Roland Leader, Understanding Malcolm X: The Controversial Changes in His Philosophy

By Neal, Anthony | Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, January 31, 1994 | Go to article overview

Edward Roland Leader, Understanding Malcolm X: The Controversial Changes in His Philosophy


Neal, Anthony, Afro-Americans in New York Life and History


Edward Roland Leader, Understanding Malcolm X: The Controversial Changes in His Philosophy

November 1992 saw the release of Spike Lee's epic movie "X." This movie chronicled the complicated life of one of the most important African American leaders of the 20th century. Prior to the release of "X" America experienced a popular culture blitz of Malcolm X mania. There were "X" caps, jackets, watches, T-shirts, and posters. The countenance of Malcolm X appeared on countless magazine covers. Unfortunately, the roar of popular culture, as applied to Malcolm X, soon subsided as the movie made its way to movie theaters and eventually to video-cassett rental stores. If there was one good thing to be found in this, perhaps it was the quickening of academic and literary interest in Malcolm X's ideas as presented in interviews, speeches, writings, and the re-discovery of his utobiography. This intellectual interest led to the revival of early scholarship on Malcolm X along with more recent contributions. Leader's work falls within this latter category.

Dr. Leader's book provides an excellent introductory work on the philosophy of Malcolm X. Extensive quotes are used in order to support Leader's argument that Malcolm X experienced profound changes in his outlook beginning with a conversion to Islam; becoming a minister in the Nation of Islam; and his subsequent break with the Nation of Islam. Leader states that upon Malcolm X's return from Mecca (Saudi Arabia) his view of whites changed radically as opposed to moderately. Using an academic model to distinguish between integrationists, accommodationists, promoters of black consciousness, black nationalists, and black revolutionaries, Leader states that near the end of Malcolm X's life he had moved closer to the integrationist perspective; As stated above, this book provides an excellent introductory read to Malcolm X. …

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