Page ZOOM Learning to Read MALCOLM X Born Malcolm Little on May 19 1925 Malcolm X was one of the most articulate and powerful leaders of black America during the 1960s. A street hustler convicted of robbery in 1946 he spent seven years in prison where he educated himself and became a disciple of Elijah Muhammad founder of the Nation of Islam. In the days of the civil rights movement Malcolm X emerged as the leading spokesman for black separatism a philosophy that urged black Americans to cut political social and economic ties with the white community. After a pilgrimage to Mecca the capital of the Muslim world in 1964 he became an orthodox Muslim adopted the Muslim name El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and distanced himself from the teachings of the black Muslims. He was assassinated in 1965. In the following excerpt from his autobiography (1965) coauthored with Alex Haley and published the year of his death Malcolm X describes his self-education. It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education. I became increasingly frustrated. at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street I had been the most articulate hustler out there – I had commanded attention when I said something. But now trying to write simple English I not only wasnt articulate I wasnt even functional. How would I sound writing in slang the way I would say it something such as “Look daddy let me pull your coat about a cat Elijah Muhammad-” Many who today hear me somewhere in person or on television or those who read something Ive said will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies. It had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison when Bimbi first made me feel envy of his stock of knowledge. Bimbi had always taken charge of any conversations he was in and I had tried to emulate him. But every book I picked up had few sentences which didnt contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might as well have been in Chinese. When I just skipped those words of course I really ended up with little idea of what the book said. So I had come to the Norfolk Prison Colony still going through only book-reading motions. Pretty soon I would have quit even these motions unless I had received the motivation that I did. I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary – to study to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldnt even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school. I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionarys pages. Id never realized so many words existed! I didnt know which words I needed to learn. Finally just to start some kind of action I began copying. In my slow painstaking ragged handwriting I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page down to the punctuation marks. I believe it took me a day. Then aloud I read back to myself everything Id written on the tablet. Over and over aloud to myself I read my own handwriting. I woke up the next morning thinking about those words – immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time but Id written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover with a little effort I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didnt remember. Funny thing from the dictionary first page right now that “aardvark” springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it a long-tailed long-eared burrowing African mammal which lives off termites caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants. I was so fascinated that I went on – I copied the dictionarys next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page I also learned of people and places and events from history. Actually the dictionary is like a miniature encyclopedia. Finally the dictionarys A sectionhad filled a whole tablet-and I went on into the Bs. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. It went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet and writing letters during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words. I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison in every free moment I had if I was not reading in the library I was reading on my bunk. You couldnt have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammads teachings my correspondence my visitors… and my reading of books months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact up to then I never had been so truly free in my life. had filled a whole tablet-and I went on into the Bs. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. It went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet and writing letters during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words. I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison in every free moment I had if I was not reading in the library I was reading on my bunk. You couldnt have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammads teachings my correspondence my visitors… and my reading of books months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact up to then I never had been so truly free in my life. This is my article.
I .Rhetorical Context (Who wrote it or created? Why was it written? What is it trying to do to or for its readers? What is it? Where does it appear? When was it published? )
2-Summary (What does the text say? What are its main points/claims? Sub-claims? What kind of support does the author use to back these claims up? What did you find most interesting?
3- What are THREE golden lines from the text (quotes that stood out to you most)? Explain why each line is important to the overall meaning of the text?
4- Evaluation (Is the text convincing? Why or why not? What new knowledge did you get from reading this text? What strategies does the author use to convince you?)
5- Questioning (What questions do you have about the text? What would you ask the author if you could speak to him or her directly)
6- Relatability (Can you relate to anything that the author wrote about in the text? Does the text remind you about any of your life experiences? Explain.)
7- Big Picture (What is the value of reading to you? To your culture? Why is it important to become critical readers in college? What can this help us to do?)
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