Malcolm X was one of the most well know activists in Black America in the 1960s, however, he did not start off as educated as people perceived him as. He was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 and did not always follow the path that most see as “right.” In 1945 Little was convicted of robbery and sent to jail where he served seven years all the while educating himself on the Nation of Islam. Like Malcolm X, Curtis Carroll was convicted of armed robbery that led to a fatal shooting in 1996, when he was only 17 years old. Going in to prison, Carroll did not know how to read or right because he never felt he had to learn because he would pay people off to do his work in school and never developed the skills, but he learned during his time in prison on the pursuit to something greater. In addition to the two that gained their knowledge later in life, Sherman Alexie was always inspired by literature and was inspired by his father at an early age to learn how to read. By kindergarten Alexie was reading Grapes of Wrath while his peers struggled with books like Dick and Jane. All these individuals, stories similar, or not, have had their wisdom and intelligence influence the social movements they have taken part in and influenced, in attempt to improve, the country they live in. No matter the age or background of these people, they found something to drive their pursuit of education. These individuals did not have very impressive legacies before they were educated however.
Going into prison, Malcolm X was not very articulate in common English as he seemed to be on the streets. He “not only wasn’t articulate, [I] wasn’t even functional,” which he truly realized was an issue when he tried writing letters to Elijah Muhammed and could not make sense of what he was writing without using slang. He wanted to better himself as a person and become more articulate once starting to follow the Islam discipline. He grew his reading and writing skills by starting to read the dictionary and copy every word and definition down. As he progressed through the dictionary, copying down every word, he learned of words he did not even know existed and learned of some events that occurred throughout history. From this, he learned to read books more fluently than he did prior and could write fluent, well worded letters. He learned the Islam discipline better after expanding his literacy which is what ultimately led him to become the Malcolm X that everyone knows to have led the civil rights movement and finding equality for African Americans in America. Being one of the most well-spoken individuals in America’s history, Malcolm X would not have become who everyone knows him for unless he had spent his time in jail and enlightened him self fundamentally and in literacy.
Similar to Malcolm X, Curtis Carroll, a 39-year-old man who has been in prison for his entire adult life known as “Wall Street” to his fellow inmates,...