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Leadership Evaluation 1

Leadership Evaluation

of the Life and Times of Malcolm X

Anthony Gianaras

Drake University
Leadership Evaluation 2

Leadership evaluation of the

life and times of Malcolm X

Malcolm X’s leadership skills and success are a direct result of the hardships he

overcame during his early life. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told by Alex Haley is

an award-winning piece of non-fiction, in part because it provides readers with an

intimate example of discipline and perseverance. Predominantly portraying analytical and

persuasive leadership styles, Malcolm X had a clear vision, adaptability and deep

connection to his community. The culmination of his life experiences, leadership style

and accomplishments are what made him one of the most influential figures of the

twentieth century.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little was one of eight children. As a child,

Malcolm was exposed to a considerable amount of trauma. His family was constantly on

the move, largely due to threats made against his father, a vocal supporter of the Black

Nationalist movement and its leader Marcus Garvey. Over the course of several years,

after relocating to Lansing, Michigan, the Little’s home was burned to the ground,

Malcolm’s father was murdered, his mother was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, and

the children were split up and forced into foster care. After many years in foster care,

Malcolm dropped out of school and moved east to live with his aunt.

While living in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, Malcolm developed an

interest in the street life. Malcolm Little quickly refined his street knowledge and

credibility by observing the art of the hustle. “Every day I listened raptly to customers

who felt like talking, and it all added to my education. My ears soaked it up like sponges

when one of them, in a rare burst of confidence, or a little beyond his usual number of
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drinks, would tell me inside things about the particular form of hustling that he pursued

as a way of life. I was thus schooled well by experts” (Haley 1965). Before long,

Malcolm started earning money by drug peddling, gambling, and burglary. Unbeknownst

to Malcolm, his experiences and actions a hustler, while illegal, did in fact help mold his

leadership style and would eventually make him highly successful. The daily routine of

the hustle required Malcolm to be acutely analytical and deliberately persuasive. His

survival was dependent on his ability to make money by evaluating the habits of others.

He needed to study and quickly tap into the pulse of his community. The connections he

formed in Boston and Harlem, combined with his intellect and intuition facilitated his

powerful and persuasive influence.

Eventually the street life caught up to Malcolm, and in 1946 he was arrested for

burglary and sentenced to ten years in prison. During his time in prison, Malcolm was

dedicated to educating himself. He was a fervent reader and thinker. His favorite topic

was black history. As a result of his new learning, Malcolm became exceedingly

interested in the Nation of Islam, particularly the teachings of Elijah Muhamad. He

believed Islam was meant for the black man. As time progressed, Malcolm became an

ardent follower of the Muslim brotherhood.

Individuals had to abstain from pork, alcohol, narcotics, tobacco, and sexual

activity in order to gain membership into the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to leading

a morally clean lifestyle, members were required to engage in daily prayer, attend weekly

services, and subscribe to the belief that Elijah Muhamad was a divine prophet.

According to Malcom X, the Nation of Islam provided black men and women

with a moral framework that promoted physical, emotional, and psychological stability.
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Malcolm adhered to all of the rules of his faith and encouraged his fellow black inmates

to the same. “I began first telling my black brother inmates about the glorious history of

the black man – things they never had dreamed. I told them the horrible slavery – trade

truths that they never knew. I would watch their faces while I told them about that,

because the white man had completely erased the slaves past.” (Haley 1965). In his

attempts to convert his prison mates, Malcom would first captivate them by invoking an

emotional response while illustrating the harsh truth surrounding black history. Malcom

was regarded and respected as an intellect. By illuminating the hardships that black men

and women endured, his persuasive style was most evident. He effectively rallied the

black men against a common enemy – the white man. During his time in prison, Malcolm

effectively persuaded and converted inmates to the Muslim Brotherhood. He was an

uncommon leader in the penal system.

In the year 1952, Malcom was paroled and left prison as a full-fledged member of

the Nation of Islam. Malcolm moved to Detroit and began attending weekly Nation of

Islam services. As an active participant of the Muslim Brotherhood, Malcom X started to

develop a vision for his faith and fellow black men. He wanted African Americans to

unite under the Nation of Islam and develop a segregated society centered around black

culture. His mission was to liberate black people from their dependency on white

institutions and businesses. Malcolm worked ferociously towards completing his mission

and vision. His every move embodied his desire to grow and strengthen the Nation of

Islam. Malcolm possessed an authentic passion for his work. His singular purpose

motivated him and intrigued his followers. His dedication and devotion attracted the
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attention of the honorable Elijah Muhammad resulting in his appointment as a minister

and national spokesperson for the nation of Islam.

Malcolm X’s accomplishments are largely credited to his ability to analyze

situations, persuade others, and passionately purse his mission and vision. The impact of

teachers and leaders is boundless if they effectively apply Malcom’s leadership methods.

There is no disputing that passion and purposefulness are the basis for successful

leadership. Vision, management and connection to community are three of the Iowa

standards for school leaders that Malcolm adhered to throughout his life. The position

teachers and administrators share when impacting the lives of their customers is

remarkable. Their actions can transcend their places of work and the communities they

serve. Imagine what education would look like, if every administrator and teacher was as

determined and effective as Malcom X.

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X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Random

House Group, 1999. Print.