The Analysis of the Struggles of an African-American Man and a Native American Man

The Analysis of the Struggles of an African-American Man and a Native American Man

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It has long been said that people turn to religion during their most desperate and loneliest moments. This theory was very evident in the lives of two very different real-world people: Black Elk and Malcolm X. Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux Indian, and Malcolm X, an African-American, had many similar experiences despite their differences in geographical location, methods, and religion. Malcolm X and Black Elk turned to Islam and the Sioux’s indigenous religion, respectively, for direction and strength to be liberated from oppression by the United States (US) Government (and the mainstream-American community) and to fight for their respective communities.
Malcolm X grew up in a controversial period of racial segregation in American history, causing many African-Americans to lose faith of ever becoming equal to white Americans. X’s father was a Baptist minister; ironically, however, X grew to hate all religions. In fact, once X was sentenced to prison on the counts of larceny and breaking and entering for a maximum of ten years, his fellow inmates named him “Satan” because of his anti-religious views towards God and the Bible (Haley 171-4, 177). However, as he aspired to be a “better” person and searched for a purpose in life, his viewpoints on religion changed. In these dark moments of his life, X started to comply to requests made by his converted brothers and sister of not smoking cigarettes and not eating pork (180-1) and to get on his knees and pray to Allah (195-6). After writing a letter and receiving a letter back from Elijah Muhammad, X started to hold the notions that Islam was the original religion of African-Americans and that history had been “whitened” by the white man (208). Overall, X needed an explanation to ...


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...ces. Malcolm X can be seen as someone who used Islam as a tool to jumpstart his career and spread his movement, but Malcolm X also practiced what he preached. Black Elk, on the other hand, found commonalities amongst his people and brought his people together to fight the wasichu in an unwinnable war. Nonetheless, both men, whose efforts’ origins traced back to colonial America, were leaders who turned to their faith for guidance in their most desperate moments in life.



Works Cited

Busby, Brittany, and Andrea Risjord. "Malcolm X." Introduction to Religion 100. Oxford College of Emory University. Alpha 257, Oxford, Georgia. Keynote.
Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Book, 1973. 170+. Print.
Neihardt, John. Black Elk Speaks. Twenty-First-Century Edition. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 1988. 01+. Print.

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