Malcolm X: Before and After

by Alice Ragland


The infamous Malcolm X who comes to your mind
Was once a criminal, uneducated and mentally blind.
A robber, a hustler, a victim of the streets,
Malcolm Little, or "Detroit Red," craved drugs to feel complete.
His companions were pimps and prostitutes; by no one was he compelled.
His hazardous actions resulted in ten years of jail.
Though racism more so than the crime affected his sentence,
He transformed the next ten years into a period of repentance.
So distant from God when he first came,
He developed "Satan" as his nickname.
He cursed God for his misfortune instead of his own mistakes,
Until his dormant mind was opened, suddenly jerked awake.
A leader in the prison, Bimbi was the name he preferred,
Could grasp his inmates' attention by only using words.
Instead of gaining respect through fear, Bimbi obtained it through peace.
This affected Detroit Red more than the threat of any police.
Later, his brother's blunt instructions stabbed Malcolm like a fork:
"Stop smoking cigarettes, and stop eating pork."
As random as those commands seemed to be,
Malcolm followed the directions immediately.
Then, he gained the realization
That his lack of education came with major limitations.
He could barely read, so he wanted to improve his vocabulary.
He began by, word for word, copying the entire dictionary.
Now, instead of reading books arbitrarily,
Malcolm read with a purpose, and he read selectively.
Day after day, his comprehension increased.
His motivation was his curiosity.
Reading and research were the primary sources of his knowledge.
He only completed the eighth grade, but books were his college.
Realizing that their blindness was what caused Black people danger,
The White man's despotism became the target of his anger.
Malcolm joined a debate team and opened other prisoners' eyes
To white supremacy, the force that was destroying their lives. 
His experience in prison was his transformation
Into one of the most influential leaders of the nation.


When Malcolm was released from the penitentiary,
He moved in with his brother's family.
He followed the Nation of Islam's rules unquestioningly.
Malcolm got his first job that did not involve crime,
And he spoke at Temple Number One from time to time.
He gave lectures about how the White devil oppressed Black society.
Through his intrepid speeches, he gained popularity.
As Malcolm became more involved with the Nation,
He reached out to more people who suffered from miseducation.
He enlightened them about how the malevolence of whites
Kept Black folks in a state of oppression for life.
When he and his idol, Elijah Muhammad, finally met,
His name was changed from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X.
"X" was the symbol of his forever unknown, African name.
The White slave owner who changed it was to blame. 
Malcolm founded the Islam newsletter Muhammad Speaks
And he became one of the most sought-after speakers in the country.
Malcolm X's views caused controversy,
He spread his word to temples, TV, and universities.
When he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca with Muslims of all colors,
He began to see everyone as a sister and brother.
Malcolm X changed his belief that whites were exclusively evil
And he stopped calling for the complete separation of Black people.
He established Muslim Mosque, Inc., which had a more inclusive view,
And he organized the OAAU.
Some people idolized him, others wanted him dead,
But his main concern was for his message to spread.
After major conflicts with the NOI, Malcolm X
Was targeted even more with constant death threats. 
Shortly after someone burned his home down intentionally,
As he had predicted, he was shot, killed tragically.
Let his message echo from each generation to the next.
Rest in peace El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X.

Malcolm X: Before and After by Alice Ragland

© Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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