Threat Of Violence In The Autobiography Of Malcolm

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In the Malcolm X’s Autobiography and Ida B. Wells’ Crusade for Justice, both authors emphasize the ubiquitous threat of racial violence. Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells as political leaders never advocated their followers to commit public disturbances or other violent acts. However, they both elicit the injurious attention of both African American and Caucasian white supremacists by breaking away from the societal norms. While we may perceive Malcolm X to be the man dwelling behind his curtains, armed with an assault rifle, and Ida B. Wells to be speaking out against white on black violence, a close reading of the texts reveals that each societal perception of Malcolm X and Wells actually better represent the other’s true character; rather, Malcolm X utilizes his violent rhetoric to inform the Black people of their current situation, whereas, Wells is inclined to turn to violence when provoked by white society. Ida B. Wells’ Crusade for Justice highlights events of her life where she was, similar to Malcolm X’s public persona, under considerable threat of violence. In 1884, as Ida B. Wells was not allowed to sit in the lady’s train car, “[she] fastened [her] teeth in the [conductor’s] hand,” only to be coerced to either disembark the train or move into the smoker’s car (18). In reaction, two train workers forcibly remove Wells from the train, and receive the applause of “white ladies and gentlemen in the car” for their “brave” acts (19). While this event demonstrates society’s tendency to resort to violence, it also shows how quickly Wells turned to violence to solve her problems. Wells’ rash actions are reminiscent of society’s view of Malcolm X in that moments of crisis are rejoined through violence. Instead of giving up her seat like most black people would, Wells vehemently opposed giving up her own rights. In turn, her steadfast resistance to the white train
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