Malcolm X questions and video guide Dir. Spike Lee



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Malcolm X questions and video guide

Dir. Spike Lee

Based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
Black Muslim (1960) member of an African American group professing Islamic belief.

Black Nationalist (1963) militant group who advocated separation from whites and formation of self-governing black communities.


1. What is the first image or picture you see in the film?

2. What topic is the first speech you hear about?

3. What city are Malcolm and Shorty in first?

4. How would you describe their outfits?

5. What is the topic of Malcolm’s father’s sermon?

6. Why did Malcolm’s mother hate her complexion?

7. Why does Malcolm’s “church girl” girlfriend get angry with him?

8. In the flashback scene, who is the man tied in front of the train?

9. What was the verdict in the trial about Malcolm’s father?

10. Malcolm is on a “power trip” with his white girlfriend. How does the breakfast in bed scene demonstrate this?

11. Explain this ironic statement: “I used to think ‘not for sale’ was a brand name.”

12. Why does the state orphanage break up Malcolm’s family?


13. What does Malcolm want to be when he grows up and what is the response from his teacher?

14. Who is the big star boxing on the radio show? Why is this important for blacks in America?

15. Who is Archie and where is he originally from?

16. According to Archie, what are the rules for being a numbers runner?

17. Why is it significant that Malcolm is shopping for distinguished clothes? What kind of role is Archie beginning to play in his life?

18. What is the drug of choice for Malcolm in his new wealthy lifestyle?

19. Malcolm accuses Archie of cheating him on the numbers game. What is the consequence?

20. The flashback of the Klan burning down Malcolm’s house is significant. What does his father say that shows the Klan is cowardly?

21. What are the three things that Malcolm is most afraid of in the “real world”?

22. Why is Malcolm playing “Russian Roulette” in front of his friends? What is he trying to show them about himself?

23. According to Malcolm, what is the largest reason that he and Shorty get so much prison time?

24. What does Malcolm refuse to do when he first gets to prison? Why does he do this?

25. What does Baines think he is trying to be with his straight hair?
26. Explain Baines’ statement: “Elijah Mohammad can get you out of the prison of your mind.”

27. What things does Malcolm have to give up to regain his respect for his body and his mind?

28. What does the word “black” mean by dictionary definition? What about “white”?

29. Explain: “Take one step toward Allah, and he’ll take two steps towards you.”

30. What condition is Archie in when Malcolm visits him? How does this make Malcolm feel?

31. Explain Shorty’s quote: “I love pigs feet and white women too much.”

32. What style of dress do the Muslim men wear? The Muslim women?

33. What is the responsibility of women in this society?

34. Why does Betty say that she is “tall enough for a tall man”?

35. When Malcolm goes to the police station what is he trying to do?

36. What small gesture does he use to get all the men marching away together?

37. Explain the cop’s comment: “That’s too much power for one man to have.”

38. Explain Malcolm’s comment: “The only thing I like integrated is my coffee.”

39. Who is the new kid that wants to be a Muslim?

40. Elijah Muhammad uses the analogy of the dirty glass to demonstrate what point?
41. Explain Malcolm’s speech: “Love your enemy. No, that’s not intelligent! The black man has a right to defend himself.”

42. According to Malcolm, why did he change his name to X?

43. Why does Baines claim that Malcolm is “of great benefit to himself”? What does he believe has changed about Malcolm?

44. When a white student asks Malcolm what she can do to help the movement, he says “nothing”? How did his statement make you feel?

45. Why does Betty believe that Malcolm is “in trouble”?

46. What is Elijah Muhammad accused of in the newspapers?

47. Malcolm calls the assassination of Pres. Kennedy “the chickens coming home to roost.” What does he mean and what does Elijah Muhammad do about it?

48. Why does Malcolm go on a pilgrimage to Mecca?

49. How do you know that the CIA is following him?

50. In his letter to Betty, Malcolm explains that he is starting to feel like a “complete human being.” What does he mean?

51. Who is starting to harass Betty with prank phone calls?

52. The CIA and the nation of Islam are beginning to work together to get rid of Malcolm. They were enemies, so why are they now working together?



53. The director chose to splice in real film footage in the funeral scenes. Why does this make the last scenes more powerful?
54. At the end of the film, a series of children stand up and proclaim “I am Malcolm X.” What do they mean?


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