ACT ASSESSMENT PRACTICE READING PASSAGE DIRECTIONS: There are four passages in this test. Each passage is followed by several questions. After reading a passage, choose the best answer to each question and fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document. You may refer to the passages as often as necessary.
SOCIAL SCIENCE: The following passage is adapted from an essay on Malcolm X.
During 1963 the nation became aware of a civil rights leader making a dramatic impact on the black community. Malcolm X, the charismatic, ferociously eloquent preacher and organizer for the Nation of (5) Islam, had been preaching his message to (usually poor) black communities since the early 1950s. Malcolm X was a “black Muslim,” a member of a small but crucial religious organization that proved instrumental in giving birth to the modern Black Power Movement. The (10) Nation of Islam, led by Elijah Muhammed, believed that whites had systematically and immorally denied blacks their rights and that blacks therefore had no reason to act peacefully or lovingly towards whites. Instead of supporting the philosophy of non-violence (15) embraced by Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nation of Islam believed that whites should repay blacks for slavery and allow them to set up their own nation within America. Until that day arrived, the Nation encouraged blacks to defend themselves against white supremacy (20) “by any means necessary.”
The membership and influence of the Nation of Islam grew tremendously during the late 1950s and early 1960s, in large part due to the dedication and speaking skills of Malcolm X. Like King, Malcolm X mobilized (25) the people, leading them in rallies, protest marches, and demonstrations. Though he was widely known among the black underclass and in civil rights circles, it was not until his famous “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” speech on December 1, 1963, that he truly (30) blasted his way into the consciousness of most Americans. X gave the speech in reference to the November 22 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and described the killing as “chickens coming home to roost.” The media, which had negatively (35) portrayed the Nation of Islam in general and Malcolm X in particular, jumped on the speech immediately, claiming it as an example of Malcolm X’s divisive hatred and blatant disrespect for the U.S. government. In the face of public reaction, officials (40) within the Nation silenced X for 90 days. The speech not only brought Malcolm X to the forefront of the civil rights struggle but also highlighted and helped solidify a strand of civil rights activism that found inadequate the non-violent policies the movement had so (45) far used.
Malcolm X is a highly controversial figure in black history. Many see him as a spouter of hatred and divisiveness. Certainly it is true that a fair portion of X’s rhetoric—his references to “white devils” and “Uncle Tomming Negro leaders”—was angry and (50) inflammatory, and did little to promote the cause of integration. However, X represented an element of black consciousness that white people refused to face: the incredible rage that most black people felt after suffering so many years of oppression.
(55) For all of his fame, it is interesting to note that his mobilization and participation in the civil rights movement was actually fairly slim . He respected some civil rights leaders (King, for example), though for much of his life he believed that the idea of integration was (60) merely playing into the hands of the white man. For the most part, Malcolm X’s role in the civil rights movement was merely to preach, to pass on the crucial message of black rage to white America, and to become a role model for those who began the Black Power (65) Movement a few years later. He is vitally important not because of what he actually did, but because of what he said and how he said it.
Malcolm X’s own biography reveals that he was more nuanced and interesting than the simple role of (70) black rage that he was sometimes assigned by both whites who held him up as an example of rage gone wild, and blacks who saw him as a warrior willing to express that which most blacks could not. After years of service, X eventually broke with the Nation of Islam. (75) Then, after a life-changing visit to Mecca in 1964, he broke with his own previous thought and began preaching a message of cross-cultural unity, and founded the Organization for Afro-American Unity. With his fire-and-brimstone oratory, broad base of black (80) community support, and knack for attracting media attention, X’s new path might have forged major interracial inroads. But before he could follow this new path of more general inclusion, X was assassinated on February 21, 1965, shot as he was giving a speech in (85) New York. The perpetrators have never been found, though many presume the Nation of Islam to have been responsible. X’s autobiography, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, is an abiding document of both his own personal journey and of his time.
According to the passage, some critics of Malcolm X censured him for being: A. an “Uncle Tomming Negro leader.”
B. an example of rage gone wild.
C. a warrior for African-Americans.
D. a civil rights leader.
One can reasonably infer from the passage that the Nation of Islam is widely thought responsible for Malcolm X’s assassination because: A. X broke with the group politically and philosophically.
B. X gave a controversial speech after Kennedy’s assassination.
C. X visited Mecca in 1964.
D. X began to write an autobiography.
The main point made in the third paragraph (lines 45-54) is that: A. the “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” speech propelled Malcolm X to the forefront of the civil rights debate.
B. Malcolm X’s rhetoric promoted hatred and divisiveness.
C. Malcolm X was an important role model for the future leaders of the Black Power Movement.
D. although his message was controversial, Malcolm X successfully gave a voice to black people who had been oppressed for generations.
The author’s purpose in writing this passage seems to be: A. to portray Malcolm X as the man responsible for the civil rights movement.
B. to reveal an overlooked event in Malcolm X’s life.
C. to give a relatively balanced account of the positive and negative sides of Malcolm X’s career.
D. to expose the Nation of Islam’s role in the assassination of Malcolm X.
According to the passage, Malcolm X came to the forefront of the American civil rights struggle because: A. of his “Chickens Coming Home to Roost” speech, which generated a media frenzy.
B. he was silenced by the Nation of Islam for 90 days.
C. he rejected King’s nonviolent message.
D. he founded the Organization for Afro-American Unity.
The attitude of the author of the passage toward Malcolm X is apparently one of: A. anger.
The author’s comparison of Malcolm X to Martin Luther King Jr. focuses primarily on: A. their stances on integration and violence against whites.
B. their leadership of the civil rights movement.
C. their roles in the Nation of Islam.
D. their influences on future black leaders.
As it is used in line 50, the word inflammatory most nearly means: A. revolutionary.