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"Learning to Read" by Malcolm X


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Learning to Read

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MALCOLM X

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Born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925, Malcolm X was one of the most articulate and powerful leaders of black America during the 1960s. A street hustler convicted of robbery in 1946, he spent seven years in prison, where he educated himself and became a disciple of Elijah Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam. In the days of the civil rights movement, Malcolm X emerged as the leading spokesman for black separatism, a philosophy that urged black Americans to cut political, social, and economic ties with the white community. After a pilgrimage to Mecca, the capital of the Muslim world, in 1964, he became an orthodox Muslim, adopted the Muslim name El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, and distanced himself from the teachings of the black Muslims. He was assassinated in 1965. In the following excerpt from his autobiography (1965), coauthored with Alex Haley and published the year of his death, Malcolm X describes his self-education.

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It was because of my letters that I happened to stumble upon starting to acquire some kind of a homemade education.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 12:59PM) : "Homemade Education" more

In some excerpts, this is the the actual title given to this essay. What would this title, as pulled from the work, suggest of a blended theme? Don’t get in your own way. The answer is right there at the word level: “homemade” and “education.”

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I became increasingly frustrated. at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad. In the street, I had been the most articulate hustler out there - I had commanded attention when I said something. But now, trying to write simple English, I not only wasn't articulate, I wasn't even functional. How would I sound writing in slang, the way I would say it, something such as, "Look, daddy, let me pull your coat about a cat, Elijah Muhammad-"

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Mar 12
Dominic Decker Dominic Decker (Mar 12 2021 4:36PM) : Motivation more

This paragraph is a great representation of where the motivation for Malcolm comes from. He has always been used to being at the top, and when it comes to simple English, he is at the bottom. This frustrates him. It makes him mad that he cannot express himself through writing so it makes him want to work harder to be better at it.

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Feb 26
Lucas Densford Lucas Densford (Feb 26 2021 1:22PM) : A Greater Finding more

Malcolm X’s original motivation came because he felt weak in an aspect of his life. He was driven to combat this weakness and overcome his faults by improving his letters and being able to express himself clearly in his letters. Though, he found that his education not only brought forth his abilities to read and write at a whole new level, and not only did his “homemade education” in prison help him to become one of the most articulate orators and leaders years later, but it also brought forth the freedom of him and his mind. He was no longer constrained to his precepts and past life, nor was he constrained mentally to the steel bars of the prison cell, but instead, his brain was free, full of knowledge and a desire to learn even more.

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Mar 2
Avery Estephan Avery Estephan (Mar 02 2021 6:14PM) : Desire to Learn more

I think that is a great way of looking at it. Malcolm had the desire to learn more, and I find that very admirable. Prison is a dark place.

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Feb 26
Hankins Lindsay Barnes Hankins Lindsay Barnes (Feb 26 2021 1:44PM) : Motivation more

Malcom X expressing his frustration aloud shows he is deeply invested to begin the journey of widening is English vocabulary. Feeling this emotion can spark motivation to begin your aspired goals.

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Mar 2
Benjamin Bluehs Benjamin Bluehs (Mar 02 2021 1:30PM) : Agree more

I really agree with Lindsay about this talking about how he was so deeply invested to begin is journey of widening his vocabulary. It really shows how Malcom X really was sometimes.

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Mar 12
Dominic Decker Dominic Decker (Mar 12 2021 4:24PM) : Agree more

I completely agree with Lindsay, I have always felt that frustration and anger are great indicators on how much someone cares. This could also inspire someone else when they see the motivation that Malcolm has.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:00PM) : Rhetorical Context more

Notice how in one situation, the speaker feels a degree of confidence. In modern terms, we might call this “swagger.” But, in the other setting, he suggests a lack of “functionality.”

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Feb 26
Jordyn Hall Jordyn Hall (Feb 26 2021 7:10PM) : What he wants isn't that far away more

I can see where his high frustration levels come from. Not being able to express something you want to say is the worst feeling in the world. All he wants to do is express himself like other people do, through writing, and he can’t. That must be where his inspiration comes from.

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Mar 1
Kali Moffett Kali Moffett (Mar 01 2021 2:16PM) : Agree more

I can agree with you Jordyn. It is sure difficult to not be able to properly express what you feel and what you want to say. Sometimes this trouble can help us. I hope this did indeed inspire him

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Mar 12
Dominic Decker Dominic Decker (Mar 12 2021 4:30PM) : Agree more

I completely agree with this. I cannot even imagine how frustrating it would be to not be able to express myself especially when everyone else is able to.

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Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I've said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies.

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Mar 1
Jesse Bergstrom Jesse Bergstrom (Mar 01 2021 6:31PM) : The Privilege of Public School more

To riff off of what Addyson had said previously about the normalization of formal education, I’d like to point out that not everyone can have access to a full education. Malcom proves that a formal education doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an intellectual. All you need to become an intellectual is a desire for knowledge and the patience to understand and be well versed in the topic.

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Mar 1
Zachary Hazel Zachary Hazel (Mar 01 2021 7:00PM) : Impressions more

Malcolm X’s education level started off because of Bimbi which motivated him enough to continue his self-taught journey. He continued to the point where some would assume that he went to school even though he was in prison. I find this moving since many people don’t have the need to go to schools and learn but despite that, it isn’t impossible to learn about the “important” subjects that school teaches you.

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Feb 26
Kinsey Holland Kinsey Holland (Feb 26 2021 1:29PM) : Impressions Despite Circumstances more

Even though Malcom X was imprisoned, he taught himself to read and write because of Bimbi’s education level. People around him were impressed with his vocabulary level and never would have guessed that he is self-taught. They thought he went to school past eight grade but he never went to school.

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Feb 26
Addyson Downs Addyson Downs (Feb 26 2021 7:01PM) : First Impressions more

I think Malcolm X was a great example of never judging a book based on its cover. Although that is a cliche, it is true. If one had just met Malcolm and had not been aware, nobody would guess he had not started high school. This is because Malcolm is well-read and well-spoken,and many people have the privilege for this to not be something they would even conjure up. Malcolm truly took his literacy, penmanship, etc., into his own hands. First impressions can be deceiving despite his former circumstances, but many would never have imagined that one would have this little of schooling. This is a good thing for some, considering it is normalized to have a formal education.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:02PM) : Impression Level more

Because of who X was as an orator, this assumption would be one to which audiences would be naturally led. Could the purpose of this essay be to speak to this group? Or is the audience someone else entirely?

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Feb 26
K Burris K Burris (Feb 26 2021 6:57PM) : Unlikely Outcomes more

Though most people would see being imprisoned as a bad thing, X found that his years in prison were the most enriching. Something that was framed as bad turned out to have a good effect.

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Mar 2
Matteo De Maso Matteo De Maso (Mar 02 2021 6:41PM) : Prison Studies more

Here Malcolm X credits his scholarly persona to his time spent reading and studying while in prison. However, he has had almost no official education. He claims that most of his knowledge was from reading and writing letters. Instead of wasting time in prison, he used it as an opportunity to better himself.

It had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison, when Bimbi first made me feel envy of his stock of knowledge. Bimbi had always taken charge of any conversations he was in, and I had tried to emulate him. But every book I picked up had few sentences which didn't contain anywhere from one to nearly all of the words that might as well have been in Chinese. When I just skipped those words, of course, I really ended up with little idea of what the book said. So I had come to the Norfolk Prison Colony still going through only book-reading motions. Pretty soon, I would have quit even these motions, unless I had received the motivation that I did.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:04PM) : The Model/Mentor more

Notice how the presence and influence of this “Bimbi” provides a catalyst for X’s “call” to engage with this work.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:05PM) : The Book Reading Motions more

It’s easy to write these off as X’s experience within the essays. Perhaps to say it might “serve him right” to have not enaged with books and ideas before going to prison. But. . .what are these “book reading moves?” What do they look like? How might they be limiting. Is “not reading” even a book reading move?

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:06PM) : Book Reading Moves as Non-Sustaining more

Because the work was not 1) satisfying and 2) not advancing X’s growth/fullfillment, he would have quit these moves too.

Did you know the average American adult MIGHT read up to 1-2 books a year?

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Feb 26
Katherine Hanover Katherine Hanover (Feb 26 2021 4:36PM) : Fighting Against the Odds more

Malcolm is very open about his struggles with reading. While most people would have been at a low life while sitting in prison, but Malcolm took advantage of his resources. He studied with a dictionary and slowly taught himself to read efficiently. He progressed to the point that people never would have known he taught himself to read. This shows the dedication he had to the things he cared about and how far he would go to succeed in whatever he was fighting for.

I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary - to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn't even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school.

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Feb 26
K Burris K Burris (Feb 26 2021 6:59PM) : Wanting to Improve more

X’s drive here to get better at English, both speaking and written, was the kicker in getting him to learning English so well.

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Mar 1
Danika Jacobs Danika Jacobs (Mar 01 2021 6:58PM) : Wanting to learn more

Malcolm X chose the hardest book to learn to read from. He jumped into it when he got a hold of the dictionary. He spends so much time learning to read and write using the dictionary. As the essay goes on you see that he is determined to be able to read and write.

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Mar 2
Madison Allen Madison Allen (Mar 02 2021 6:33PM) : Response to Danika more

I agree with you on the dictionary being the hardest book to read. I haven’t even read the dictionary, but that probably gave him a really good base to start with. The dictionary gives a pronunciation text. If he learned how to read those words then he also knew the meaning of those words along with it.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:08PM) : The Physical Book more

In her work READERS COME HOME, the author discusses the “biliterate individual” of today. One who can read comfortably in print and digital text. Here, X picks up a physical dictionary. I don’t know if I have a physical dictionary anymore. Not at home anyway.

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Feb 26
Jordyn Hall Jordyn Hall (Feb 26 2021 7:04PM) : Jumping into the deep end more

Most people, when learning to read, will take things slow and start out easy. Not Malcolm. He started with the dictionary. The dictionary is full of difficult words to spell, read, write, and especially comprehend. Unlike other people, Malcolm starts with a dictionary when learning to read.

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Feb 26
Hanna Brock Hanna Brock (Feb 26 2021 4:51PM) : Determination more

In “Learning to Read” by Malcolm X, the thematic category being shown is STATE OF MIND. Throughout the essay, Malcolm gives details about how his prison education is what actually helped develop his literacy. Having the ability to find a dictionary in prison, to take the time to write every word he saw, improving his penmanship, and to grow his vocabulary as well is dedication. I know a few people who are in my family, or are close friends, who have been to prison, and they saw it is hard to find the motivation to complete even a simple task because you feel as if you have nothing. By completing everything he had during his sentence, X shows strength, determination, and a strong mental state.

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Mar 1
Katie Bishop Katie Bishop (Mar 01 2021 6:19PM) : Interesting more

This response of productivity is interesting to me due to the fact that most people in prison sort of give up. By requesting all these things, it shows that Malcolm X had the strive to want to do something great with his time in prison, not just sit there and count the days.

I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionary's pages. I'd never realized so many words existed! I didn't know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying.

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Mar 2
Matteo De Maso Matteo De Maso (Mar 02 2021 6:45PM) : Lack of Exposure more

Here Malcolm X shows how he is marveled at how many words there were in the English language. This shows both his lack of exposure to dictionaries and his interest in writing.

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Kali Moffett Kali Moffett (Mar 01 2021 2:26PM) : Progression to success more

Previously, Malcolm speaks about how “It was sad.” about his penmanship skills. In this moment Malcolm had to feel defeated. However, through his perseverance he kept going and did not stop trying. Through his persistency he found success. He found words he never knew existed, and at this point he would not be stopped.

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Mar 3
Katie L. Bishop Katie L. Bishop (Mar 03 2021 6:14PM) : Uncertain state of mind more

At first, Malcolm X was not sure where to start. He did not realize this many words existed in this world, and he had no idea which words he needed to learn. He was in a confused/uncertain state of mind.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:09PM) : To Do Something. To Begin. more

Here, we see X taking the first step. This starts with “Bimbi.” See Bimbi. Copy Bimbi. Be Bimbi.

Now its copy the dictionary.

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Feb 26
Lucas Densford Lucas Densford (Feb 26 2021 1:13PM) : Taking Action more

Malcolm X knew that he must do something, he could not sit around and gain the assets which he wanted, especially while sitting in a prison cell. Because of this, he took action and did the only thing that he could do so that his motivation could manifest itself through his progress. He did not let his adversities stand in his way, but rather he took action to accomplish his freedom, freedom through his own education.

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Feb 26
Josiah French Josiah French (Feb 26 2021 4:33PM) : turning point more

This seems like the turning point where Malcolm x starts getting interested and he is astonished by how many words were in the dictionary that he did not even know where there

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Emma Graves Emma Graves (Mar 01 2021 6:32PM) : I agree more

As I was reading, I thought this too. He was truly amazed by the amount of words. Since there were so many words and meanings he did not know, it inspired him to copy down the words and start to learn them.

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Feb 26
Austin Densmore Austin Densmore (Feb 26 2021 6:57PM) : Determination to Understand Language more

Malcolm’s determination is certainly powerful. He yearns for knowledge and to be able to understand conversation and to write. These actions he made, I believe created the shell that he grew into.

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Madison Allen Madison Allen (Mar 02 2021 6:59PM) : Beginning point more

People learn better in different ways, so maybe he figured that he is best being more of a visual learner. Repetition helps your brain keep that information in there, so seeing it and then writing down the information would help him. He talks later on about “Over and over,” that will help your brain familiarize the information. He is taking the best steps that anyone could make with learning new information.

In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks.

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Feb 26
Rosie Grady Rosie Grady (Feb 26 2021 1:26PM) : making use of what we are given more

Malcolm X displays the true eagerness of one who truly wishes to learn a new skill/hobby. Given a tablet, dictionary, and pencils to develop a sense of reading and writing, Malcolm explains his journey of learning to read by copying his dictionary day and day again.

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I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I'd written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:10PM) : The Marriage of Writing and Reading. more

Not simply transcribing, but reading back through. This solidifies and cements the activity. This is why you will be assessed for your writing in response to reading for the better part of your college experience.

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Feb 26
Katherine Hanover Katherine Hanover (Feb 26 2021 4:56PM) : The Key to Success more

With Malcolm X being a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement, you can maybe see where his persistence for that may come with how dedicated he was with himself. I see this as a message of how repetition and dedication can help heal the deepest of wounds in a person and in society. Maybe he took this method as a way to help heal society from the deep roots of racism and violence.

I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words - immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I'd written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn't remember. Funny thing, from the dictionary first page right now, that "aardvark" springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it, a long-tailed, long-eared, burrowing African mammal, which lives off termites caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:12PM) : Resulting Pride in Achievement more

This is what we want to see from a student doing the work. This feeling of satisfaction that comes of doing good work.

Last weekend (February 2021), I wrote 22 pages worth of research proposal with annotations and citations. Guess what I got? 85%. That’s right. A solid B.

Guess what I really got? Satisfaction in doing post-graduate work that was affirmed by the professor who also gave me some guidance for how to make the work even better.

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Feb 26
Hankins Lindsay Barnes Hankins Lindsay Barnes (Feb 26 2021 1:46PM) : Newfound Joy more
The payoff from his rigorous work was undeniably satisfactory to him in a way that is not usually achievable in prison
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Mar 1
Eli Hopkins Eli Hopkins (Mar 01 2021 6:24PM) : Motivation to learn more

To be motivated, one has to find the reason to take joy in one’s achievements, and not just by the simple fact of getting something done. Malcom X expanded his knowledge into depths he never thought possible before opening a dictionary. That was the initial motivation: a sense of discovery and self-improvement. Tangible evidence of some success.

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student Reese Garloch student Reese Garloch (Feb 26 2021 6:49PM) : Effort more

Malcolm X tells his story of having a self-taught education. He went to prison for robbery, but turned his life around by giving himself an education on his own. He put in the effort, and was able to give himself a fresh start.

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Katie Bishop Katie Bishop (Mar 01 2021 6:29PM) : I agree more

Malcolm X defied the odds of those who go into the system. Most of the time, people tend to give up and continue down the path of breaking the law. Malcolm X is proof that giving up doesn’t always have to be the case and that the power of self perseverance can be more powerful than anything.

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Feb 26
Jordyn Hall Jordyn Hall (Feb 26 2021 6:56PM) : Practice makes perfect more

It amazes me that this man is in prison and still has the motivation to learn to read. He has to have the most persistence out of any prisoner in that prison. The fact that he wrote and read every word in a dictionary shocks me. He really does wear out the phrase, “Practice makes perfect”.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:13PM) : Word and Images more

Never ever abandon the supports that can come of good illustrations and illustrative technique. Did you know that every time a minister references a story from the Bible, that they do so in the interest of allusion and to provide an example (EXEMPLIFICATION) that becomes an “illustration” of a larger point.

I was so fascinated that I went on - I copied the dictionary's next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history. Actually the dictionary is like a miniature encyclopedia. Finally the dictionary's A section had filled a whole tablet-and I went on into the B's. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. It went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words.

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Feb 26
Josiah French Josiah French (Feb 26 2021 5:13PM) : persistance more

At this point Malcolm’s persistence is starting to pay off and he is getting a lot better in this writing and reading. He is also enjoying what he is doing. His is encouraging to him to keep going and it is also making him better at writing and reading.

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Feb 26
Flora Clarke Flora Clarke (Feb 26 2021 1:31PM) : Consistency more

Even though Malcolm’s journey in “learning to read,” has been difficult as stated in line 5, “I became increasingly frustrated.” Staying consistent in his reading, proved for him to be efficient and pushed him to grow more in his studies. By being, “so fascinated that I went on-I copied the dictionary’s next claim.”

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:15PM) : Interesting Simile. more

Yes. And one of the biggest similarities is that it is a “tertiary” source. This is why we don’t cite the dictionary. This is why we really don’t even use the dictionary as an allusion for the definition of a work as an introduction.

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I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened, I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. You couldn't have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammad's teachings, my correspondence, my visitors,... and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:16PM) : Toolbox (Words and Ideas) more

Keep buliding your toolbox. The best way to improve your vocabulary is probably not to buy and work through vocabulary books. The best way? Yup. Reading. Gary Paulsen says we “should read like a wolf eats.”

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Feb 26
Rosie Grady Rosie Grady (Feb 26 2021 1:31PM) : A new world more

Malcolm X’s perseverance to expand his education by developing the skills to learn to read and write. Thus, expanding his ability to read other texts and open his mind to a world of other perspectives and new approaches of thinking.

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Feb 26
Aron Guerrero Aron Guerrero (Feb 26 2021 7:14PM) : Off to the new world more

Before ever stumbling upon the new world Malcolm X did, he knew nothing about this “new world”. All he knew that was close to this new world is a man named Bimbi who Malcolm envied due to his ‘stock of knowledge’ that he possessed. Malcolm was frustrated because, unlike Bimbi, he could not express himself through his letters. That frustration and desire to become someone who can express himself through the letters of his writings, eventually led him to daily dictionary studies.This also led to the discovery of the new world in which Malcolm X discovered.

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Mar 1
Emma Graves Emma Graves (Mar 01 2021 6:40PM) : A new word more

Malcolm X expanded his vocabulary by reading new words and this lead him to see a new world. He says, “Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened.” I think many take this new world for granted because many have grown up knowing words and reading. However, for Malcolm X, this is uncharted territory. It makes him excited to experience this new world that he has not felt before.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:19PM) : Repetition/Juxtaposition more

Notice the repetition of the word free here used twice within the paragraph. One refers to time. The other refers to state.

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Feb 26
Belle Garrett Belle Garrett (Feb 26 2021 1:42PM) : The freedom learning provides more

In Malcolm X’s autobiography “Learning to Read”, X highlights the freedom he finds within reading the dictionary in his cell. Malcolm X dedicated his time in prison to learning, and bettering himself. His decision to become literate was made when he discovered he was not eloquently spoken enough to speak to other people who had not grown up on the streets. X found the learning and copying of a dictionary was the enrichment he needed to succeed when he was freed from prison. This way of learning allowed Malcolm X to feel as though he had control over a large part of his life, at a time where he was not allowed to control the other aspects.

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Feb 26
Avery Estephan Avery Estephan (Feb 26 2021 6:53PM) : Taking advantage of what you can to further your education more

Malcolm X, one of the most inspiring of the black American leaders in the time of the civil rights movement, shows the readers how he developed the motivation along with the frustration to learn how to read and write within the walls of his prison cell from just a dictionary. It would be difficult to respond to the social justice issues America is having if he has no sense of analyzing text or using the power of words to make a connection with people. The betterment of his education is what allowed Malcolm X to have a better understanding of literature how to respond textually to the handful of America’s issues.

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Mar 1
Katie Bishop Katie Bishop (Mar 01 2021 6:24PM) : I agree more

If Malcolm X did not take the time to read and analyze various words/text, the various social injustices during that time period would have resulted very differently I think. By understanding English literature, he was able to lead his followers and allow for a better future. His determination behind bars led to a lifetime of dedication to African Americans around the country.

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Feb 26
Lucas Densford Lucas Densford (Feb 26 2021 1:10PM) : True Freedom more

Though Malcolm X was still imprisoned, it was his ability to learn and become educated that brought him freedom of the mind and a desire to continue on. Physically, he was locked up, but mentally he was becoming educated and was thrilled with doing so. Education was the key to X’s freedom.

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:16PM) : Words (Connotations and Denotations) more

Remember these terms from sophomore year? Look at the word, “free,” here and what it seems to suggest given the setting for this essay.

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Feb 26
Brianna Balmer Brianna Balmer (Feb 26 2021 1:17PM) : The Freedom Gained from a New Vocabulary more

In this essay by Malcolm X, the idea of the freedom gained through learning new vocabulary is presented through his story of him teaching himself to become more literate during his imprisonment. This idea especially comes to light in paragraph 14, when he states, he could for the first time pick up a book and read and understand what it was saying, and, “Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened.” He is leaving us with the impression that his new vocabulary has opened up a new world for him. He also supports this idea by stating at the end of his essay, “…months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I had never been so truly free in my life.” Malcolm is giving voice to the idea of the new freedom he has gained through his new vocabulary, though he is imprisoned.

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Feb 26
Hankins Lindsay Barnes Hankins Lindsay Barnes (Feb 26 2021 1:47PM) : Perspective of Freedom more
The payoff from his rigorous work was undeniably satisfactory to him in a way that is not usually achievable in prison. He truly felt free in a place that was the furthest from that description in other’s eyes.
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Mar 3
Grace Chancey Grace Chancey (Mar 03 2021 2:45AM) : freedom more

I love how Malcolm used the word freedom. In this article he uses freedom as word that means having the ability to. He felt like he was free because he finally had the ability to read. In our lives when more and more things become accessible and easy to us we feel more free.

DMU Timestamp: February 12, 2021 19:33

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Feb 26
Paul Hankins Paul Hankins (Feb 26 2021 1:03PM) : Rhetorical Triangle (Context) more

Don’t forget this seeminly-simple consideration before diving into the text. Who is the speaker? Who is the audience? What seems to be the purpose of this essay?

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Feb 26
Hankins Lindsay Barnes Hankins Lindsay Barnes (Feb 26 2021 1:48PM) : Final View more

In Malcom X’s Learning to Read, Malcolm X represents the perfect example that self-improving starts when an individual is displeased and annoyed with their current state. For example, “I became increasingly frustrated. at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad.(Line 5).” Malcom X expressing his frustration aloud shows he is deeply invested to begin the journey of widening is English vocabulary. Another emotion Malcom endured was envy. For example, “It had really begun back in the Charlestown Prison, when Bimbi first made me feel envious of his stock of knowledge.(Line 7).” He was increasingly jealous of the English achievement Bimbi possessed. This, for Malcom X, was his provocation to begin his homemade teachings in prison. He began scribbling words and their meanings upon paper, starting with the A’s. After working for hours, “I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I’d written words that I never knew were in the world.(Line 12).” The payoff from his rigorous work was undeniably satisfactory to him in a way that is not usually achievable in prison. As he goes on through his self-teachings he becomes engrossed within his studies.“With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history.(Line 14).” It is a remarkable act for an individual to unravel a whole world within their minds. And lastly he gathers his final realization on the meaning of his teachings to himself. “In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.(Line 19).” After he had successfully reached his aspirations, he believed it was the most free he had felt, even enclosed behind bars. Malcolm X triumphantly emphasizes the importance of self-made education and discovery with the works of literature and rhetorical skills. The thematic category my work fits into is identifying the overarching theme of the essay.

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Mar 1
Eli Hopkins Eli Hopkins (Mar 01 2021 6:37PM) : General progression of the essay more

The essay begins with a problem, contains a middle launch into solving the problem, and the fruits of the author’s labor. The struggle of the mind to find its motivation to better itself is constant. While the premise is simple (i.e. learning to read is beneficial), the background of the author as a civil rights leader and the manner in which he learned this skill, by copying dictionaries in prison, puts the essay in a context of demonstrating the power such a skill can have, and that nobody is excluded from obtaining it.

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