Title: Malcolm X: Hero or Outlaw? Lesson Author

Download 43.12 Kb.
Size43.12 Kb.


IV. Individual Development and Identity

Title: Malcolm X: Hero or Outlaw?
Lesson Author: Cari Henson and Amanda Hach                                              
Key Words: Black Nationalism, philosophy, Civil Rights 
Grade Level: 8th grade            
Time Allotted: 90 minutes      

Rationale/ Purpose (so what?)

Students will be introduced to Civil Rights activist, Malcolm X.  They will analyze one of his speeches to familiarize themselves with his philosophy on Black Nationalism.  Then the students will examine Malcolm X’s past in order to gain insight into what influenced the development of his personal identity. Malcolm X embodies a more angry view of rights violations than do most of the other Civil Right icons that we study.  We use Malcolm X to show another perspective.  By studying Malcolm X’s development, students may gain insight into their own.


Key Concept(s) include definition:    

Black Nationalism: a social and political movement advocating the separation of blacks and whites and self-government for black people.

Philosophy: a system of principles for guidance in practical affairs

Civil Rights:  The rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship, especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, including civil liberties, due process, equal protection of the laws, and freedom from discrimination


NCSS Standard(s)

SOL Information (As written in the Virginia SOL “Curriculum Framework” for the grade level)


NCSS Theme (s) with indicatorsIndividual Development and Identity
•Help learners to identify describe, and express appreciation for the influences of various historical and contemporary cultures on an individual’s daily life
•Assist learners to describe the ways family, religions, gender, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and other group and cultural influences contribute to the development of a sense of self
•Enable learners to analyze the role of perceptions, attitudes, values, and beliefs in the development of personal identity
•Assist learners in articulating personal connections to time, place, and social/cultural systems





SOL: STANDARD CE.3a                                                                                                      


The student will demonstrate knowledge of citizenship and the rights, duties, and responsibilities of citizens.

Essential Knowledge

(minimum for SOL Resource Guide)


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America defines citizenship: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside.”

Means of obtaining citizenship

Immigration and naturalization, particularly in the twentieth century, have led to an increasingly diverse society.

To become a citizen through naturalization, a person must demonstrate knowledge of American history and principles and the ability to speak and write English.

Essential Skills

(minimum for SOL Resource Guide)


Examine and interpret primary and secondary source documents. (CE.1a)

Explain diagrams, tables, or charts. (CE.1b)

Analyze political cartoons, pictures, and other graphic media. (CE.1c)

Review information for accuracy, separating fact from opinion. (CE.1e)

Identify a problem and recommend solutions. (CE.1f)

Select and defend positions in writing, discussion, and debate. (CE.1g)


Guiding Question(s): How did Malcolm X’s childhood contribute to the type of Civil Rights leader he became by 1964 when he delivered his controversial speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet”?  How does this relate to what was going on during the Civil Rights movement regarding the 13th and 14th amendment?

Assessment Tool(s): Each student will write their own identity statement by reflecting on their past experiences and how it shaped who they are today.


Background: How does this lesson fit into a unit of study?  Looking backwards, looking forwards

We are in the middle of a unit on the Civil Rights Movement.  We have just completed a section on Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.  Currently we are exploring what it means to be a citizen through the eyes of a controversial Civil Rights activist, Malcolm X.  As we continue forward we will examine the way women used the 13th and 14th amendments to gain the right to vote.


Lesson Objective(s) (Please number):

#1: Students will be able to identify Malcolm X as an important Civil Rights leader
#2: Students will be able to analyze primary source document from Civil Rights era, the “Ballot or the Bullet” (Malcolm X speech) in order to understand responsibilities of citizenship
#3 Students will be able to evaluate a persons life experience affects the development of their identity. 
#4 Students will be able to reflect on the actions of Malcolm X through the lenses of the 13th and 14 Amendment and whether or not he fulfilled his responsibility as a citizen

Materials:  Historical Source(s): (include copies in materials section) 


Additional Materials/Resources: (include copies in materials section)

The Ballot or the Bullet” speech by Malcolm X
Malcolm X’s mini-biography


History Mystery
Just Do It
Directions for writing assignment




JUST DO IT!  The “Hook”: (A high-interest activity that introduces new content with connections to students’ prior knowledge.  Between 1-5 minutes (Could also introduce the days guiding question)


Obj #

See above.

Processing Activity and Procedure -include directions, question frames, assignment detail to be given to students (these should all be made into explicit materials (e.g. see material A), and time estimates


Check for Evidence of Understanding
-Either Formal or Informal-
(Checks Essential Knowledge and Skills)

Just Do it

Short answer response on judging a book by its cover



A “History Mystery” on Malcolm X

An informal assessment of their prior knowledge.


Based on your immediate knowledge of Malcolm X what kind of an American citizen do you think he is? 

Objective #2

Students will individually read and analyze Malcolm X’s speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet?” Teacher will circulate to answer any question and keep students on task while students are reading.

Students will complete guiding question worksheet in partners after reading the excerpt. An informal assessment of the class participation during the discussion. (refer to transition question below)


Now, after being exposed to one of Malcolm’s speeches, what kind of an American citizen do you think he is?


Students will read out loud for the class a biographical excerpt on the overhead describing Malcolm X’s child and young adulthood.

Students will discuss as a class discussion questions at the bottom of worksheet.


Finally after being exposed to this last piece of information on Malcolm X, what kind of an American citizen do you think he is?

#4 Objective

Students will choose a partner and between them decide whether or not Malcolm X was responsibly exercising his right as a citizen or irresponsibly exercising his right as a citizen as understood through the previous lesson on the 13th and 14th Amendments. 

For homework each student will further develop the arguments they came up with in class.  They will write a short position paper to answer the following questions: How Malcolm X’s development as a person impacted the way he exercised his civil rights?  Did he end up a responsible citizen? Students will address these questions by citing the speech, the biographical excerpt as well as the 13th and 14th amendment.


Modifications/Accommodations for Diverse Learners:

Obviously we will accommodate students with an IEP, but overall if students need extra time to read the excerpts or extra class time to work on their “Position Papers” they will be accommodated. 

Closure/Writing Prompt/Rubric:

Each student’s “Position Paper” is designed to synthesize the information garnered from a primary source, Malcolm’s biographical information, and including information previously discussed on amendments securing citizens’ rights. 

This assignment will be worth 15 points.

5-Structure Introduction, Conclusion, supporting paragraphs
5-Persuasive fact based arguments


Materials (one resource per page- so it becomes a teacher or student handout, or overhead directions or ppt presentation.)

Just Do It


Can you judge a book by its cover? Yes or No


Explain using examples from your own life?

History Mystery

Directions: Use the clues below to determine what influential person in history we will be talking about in class today.

  1. He was born in Omaha, Nebraska on May 19, 1925.


  1. In 1931, his father was run over by a streetcar in Michigan, which may or may not have been an accident

  1. His nickname was Big Red.


  1. He dropped out of school at age 15, then six years later was convicted of burglary and sent to prison.

  1. While in prison he studied the teachings of Nation of Islam leader, Elijah Muhammad and consequently converted to Islam.


  1. He was appointed chief minister of the Harlem temple, a New York mosque.

  1. He formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity.


  1. Said, “We are non-violent with people who are non-violent with us.”ent with people who are nonviolent with us." We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us." We are nonviolent

  2. He was assassinated in New York in 1965.

  1. He was a Civil Rights activist.


Malcolm X: "The Ballot or the Bullet"
This is part of what’s wrong with you -- you do too much singing. Today it’s time to stop singing and start swinging. You can’t sing up on freedom, but you can swing up on some freedom. Cassius Clay can sing, but singing didn’t help him to become the heavyweight champion of the world; swinging helped him become the heavyweight champion. This government has failed us; the government itself has failed us, and the white liberals who have been posing as our friends have failed us.
And once we see that all these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self help program, a do-it -- a-do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy. This is what you and I need to get with, and the only time -- the only way we're going to solve our problem is with a self-help program. Before we can get a self-help program started we have to have a self-help philosophy.
Black Nationalism is a self-help philosophy. What's so good about it? You can stay right in the church where you are and still take Black Nationalism as your philosophy. You can stay in any kind of civic organization that you belong to and still take Black Nationalism as your philosophy. You can be an atheist and still take Black Nationalism as your philosophy. This is a philosophy that eliminates the necessity for division and argument. 
Once you change your philosophy, you change your thought pattern. Once you change your thought pattern, you change your -- your attitude. Once you change your attitude, it changes your behavior pattern and then you go on into some action. As long as you gotta sit-down philosophy, you’ll have a sit-down thought pattern, and as long as you think that old sit-down thought you’ll be in some kind of sit-down action. They’ll have you sitting in everywhere. It’s not so good to refer to what you’re going to do as a "sit-in." That right there castrates you. Right there it brings you down. What -- What goes with it? What -- Think of the image of a someone sitting. An old woman can sit. An old man can sit. A chump can sit. A coward can sit. Anything can sit. Well you and I been sitting long enough, and it’s time today for us to start doing some standing, and some fighting to back that up.
When we look like -- at other parts of this earth upon which we live, we find that black, brown, red, and yellow people in Africa and Asia are getting their independence. They’re not getting it by singing “We Shall Overcome.” No, they’re getting it through nationalism. It is nationalism that brought about the independence of the people in Asia. Every nation in Asia gained its independence through the philosophy of nationalism. Every nation on the African continent that has gotten its independence brought it about through the philosophy of nationalism. And it will take Black Nationalism -- that to bring about the freedom of 22 million Afro-Americans here in this country where we have suffered colonialism for the past 400 years.
And 1964 looks like it might be the year of the ballot or the bullet.

Guiding Questions for “The Ballot or the Bullet”

 1. Who is Malcolm X addressing in his speech “The Ballot or the Bullet”?

2. What does Malcolm mean when he says, “You can’t sing up on freedom, but you can 
    swing up on some freedom”?

3. What does the term Black Nationalism mean to Malcolm X?  What does it mean to

    you, and are they different?

4. What is the significance of the title, “The Ballot or the Bullet”?

A Brief Glimpse into Malcolm X’s Childhood
Malcolm X's life is a Horatio Alger story with a twist. Malcom X is not a "rags to riches" tale, but a powerful narrative of self-transformation from petty hustler to internationally known political leader. Malcom X - Born in Omaha, Nebraska, the son of Louise and Earl Little, who was a Baptist preacher active in Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association. Malcolm X, along with his siblings, experienced dramatic confrontations with racism from childhood. Hooded Klansmen burned their home in Lansing, Michigan; Earl Little was killed under mysterious circumstances; welfare agencies split up the children and eventually committed Louise Little to a state mental institution; and Malcolm X was forced to live in a detention home run by a racist white couple. By the eighth grade he left school, moved to Boston, Massachussetts, to live with his half-sister Ella, and discovered the underground world of African American hipsters. 


What kind of picture does this paint of Malcolm X’s childhood?  How might it have influenced the man he became? Do these background experiences give reason for his actions as an adult

Share with your friends:

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page