Redefining Malcolm X: Exposing the Defamation and Deliberate Censorship of a Civil Rights Pioneer

Paige Bragg Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Vivian Deno Butler University
Malcolm X—one of our nation’s most controversial, yet pivotal leaders—once claimed, “if you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” This is precisely what happened to X, as mainstream media in the 1960s put forward a demonizing rhetoric that labeled Malcolm X as violent and ignored his efforts to advance the Civil Rights Movement. This misrepresentation of Malcolm X has shaped contemporary history curricula, which defame the activist, or neglect him entirely. Redefining Malcolm X challenges the mainstream narrative by arguing that Malcolm X is misrepresented in our modern society because he was feared for the wrong reasons throughout the duration of the Civil Rights Movement. Newspaper reporters referred to Malcolm X as a “hate-monger” and claimed he “urged Negroes to abandon the doctrine of nonviolence in the Civil Rights struggle.” In reality, he encouraged victims of “brutal attacks” to defend themselves, and he unapologetically empowered communities of color in a way that threatened the preservation of white supremacy. Redefining Malcolm X examines his autobiography, speeches, local and federal newspaper articles, as well as public FBI documents to demonstrate that it was through this false rhetoric that Malcolm X has been perpetually vilified for generations.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:30 AM
Jordan Hall 278