Malcolm X and Frederick Douglass are from different time periods, both men have some things in common . With Douglass, being a slave, and Malcolm X, a criminal, both were stripped of having the right to obtain an education. The two activists grew up to realize the importance of education, reading and writing, or simply, the basis of establishing an education. The writings of both Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X reflect the trials and tribulations undergone by the black men during times of slavery and racism. Through further analysis of each text, however, one can differentiate between the experiences of the two authors, separating them amongst one another. Douglass’ life as an actual slave gave light to an entirely different experience rather than that of Malcolm X, a prisoner in jail during the post slavery era. Considering these differences, one can see how even though these individuals led two different lives, the impact of literature and reading allotted them to grow similarly as individual thinkers. The freedom, power, and liveliness adopted by both Douglass and Malcolm X through their readings are those that are undoubtedly shared by both individuals. In Frederick Douglas’s “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave, Written by Himself and Malcolm’s “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” one can compare the analysis of the two and find common subjects.
Frederick Douglas talks about overcoming the obstacle of learning to read, he states that “Refusing to accept Hugh Auld’s dictates, Frederick took his first covertly rebellious steps by teaching himself to read and write” (Gates Jr. and Smith, 328). During this time, Frederick was selected to go to Baltimore in 1826 to become a servant in the home of Sophia and Hugh Auld. This statement just a little of what Frederick Douglass had to go to get to an education. With Douglass being a slave in made things a hundred times worst. Furthermore, Malcolm X can relate to this, because when in prison he would have to secretly read books at nighttime. Furthermore, Malcolm X stated “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” (Gates Jr. and Smith, 574). Frederick would try and promote his learning as often as he could, he would do tasks for people to gain knowledge to further him in the long run. For example, he would bring bread to the white man to get knowledge in return. Frederick had a much different route to education than Malcolm X, because of the fact that he was a slave. Frederick Douglas basically had the world against with being a slave whereas Malcolm X only had certain things limiting him. Secondly, Frederick Douglass was only given the alphabet while Malcolm X was presented with books along with other things that helped him improve his educational status. For example, Malcolm X had the Norfolk Prison Colony whereas Frederick Douglas had basically nothing at all.
Unlike Douglass who had no educational background, Malcolm X had received an education that of an 8th grader but time passed, and he could not really recall what he had learned. Malcolm X could manage read, but he could not produce it on paper. While in prison, that time helped he greatly in refining his educational skills in a way. He began using the dictionary, which was very helpful in the progress he made. This work of art construe together an example of the hardship it was to learn for the black man. Then Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X started to realize that education was the key to improving their overall knowledge within the world. The power of education is a very strong thing, and with it can help you see things for what they really are. Frederick Douglass implies that the ability to read is associated to being free because it is an escape from the darkness. The ability to read is what had sat Frederick Douglass free, because he felt like reading helped him get away from everything in a way. Malcolm expresses this same exact feeling. Both writers are saying that they had basically been locked up in their mind, but the power of reading expanded them, and made them feel like they were not locked up anymore. This new world that they were starting to see had an impact on the both of them. Frederick Douglass believes that everything he has been through had been a cruse rather than a blessing. Therefore, it had given him a view of the wretched condition, without the remedy in his views. This is extremely powerful, it explains that reading opened his eyes to another side of life, but his physical status was still a slave. Without him fighting for education, Frederick Douglass would not have realized just how bad he really had it as a slave. His education opened his eyes into what was really happening. It made Frederick Douglas rethink everything he has been thought in a way.
The overall respect that people during their time period had for the both of them is comparable. They both talk about how education is the overall key to how they got what they wanted to get accomplish in their lifetime. Words are the keys to unlock the restraints and achieving a prodigious education will give you the ability to articulate your words and give you the power to change your fate and the well-being of others. Education was the game changer to both African American men. It opened doors that these men would never have had. Even though their parts were different, they both found education as an outlet to help pave the ways for them.