A Homemade Education

photo by: unsplash-logoDebby Hudson

It is important to remember that education can take place anywhere. You may not have the opportunity to attend or afford prestigious schools like Harvard, Yale, or Howard–but you can always use a “homemade education” to supplement the community college, local university, or trade school education you already have. Malcolm Little, better known as Malcolm X, was involved in criminal activities as a young man until he found himself in prison. It was in prison that he found religion, began reading vigorously, and developed a love of learning. In his Autobiography he stated, “My alma mater was books, a good library”.[1] After becoming involved in the civil rights struggle, he gained a reputation as an intellectual, orator, and feared debater. He also stated that “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”.[2]

As you can see, Malcolm X made the best of his opportunity to educate himself. Being in prison is viewed as a negative situation, but an older gentleman took him under his wing and showed him that he had an opportunity to learn. He used his isolation from society, free library, and free time to transform himself into one of the most educated, articulate, and important figures of the civil rights era. He copied the entire dictionary to improve his vocabulary and would read up to 15 hours a day. You may not find yourself in a situation like prison, but don’t let your situation stop you from obtaining an education. Find an area that interests you, go to the library, and start studying.  

[1] X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley. 1965. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine Books, 183.

[2] Ibid., 174.


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