Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

The American Experience

  • Malcolm X: Make It Plain
  • Rating: *****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $99.95
  • Date: Copyright 1994. Released 1994.
  • Descriptors: Blacks - History. United States - History - 20th century. Malcolm X.
  • Production Information: Live action, Archival footage, Stills. Produced by Orlando Bagwell. Narrated by Alfre Woodard. Color, b&w. Closed captioned . 150 min.
  • Production Company: Blackside, Inc. Raja Productions
  • Available from: PBS Video 1320 Braddock Pl. Alexandria, VA 22314-1698 (703)739-5380
  • ISBN: ISBN 0-7936-1054-0.
  • Cataloging: 323.4092 X, Malcolm, 1925-1965|| Afro-Americans - Biography||Civil rights - United States
  • Print Entry #: 5:1389
  • Reviewer: Graham Maughan

    Malcolm X was a complex leader and thinker quite unlike the caricature of the black racist calling his people to violent revolution portrayed by his opponents, even in his most strident black nationalist period. A straight-A student who left school in his early teens to take up the life of a petty criminal, he gave absolutely no indication when he went to prison in 1945 that, within a decade of his release in 1952, he would become one of the most celebrated figures in the civil rights struggle and a charismatic leader. Malcolm X was primarily responsible for the growth of the Nation of Islam from a few hundred followers centered on a few mosques (largely unknown even in black communities) to an organization of many thousands of members spread throughout the nation, controlling economic assets worth many millions of dollars.

    Malcolm X: Make It Plain is such a masterful presentation and examination of this fascinating man that it is sure to become not only a classic video biography of its subject but the standard by which all others will long be measured. It combines archival footage, still photos, interviews with more than two dozen people (including many family members), and a sensitive score that enhances mood and underlines events, with an objective yet not dispassionate narration by Alfre Woodard. This video offers not only a comprehensive picture of Malcolm X' life and his ideological evolution, but provides most importantly a rich context for his experiences, thoughts, and achievements. Especially noteworthy in this regard is the discussion of how he became a Black Muslim and the examination of his official separation from the Nation of Islam just a year prior to his assassination. Although two-and-a-half hours long, the program never at any point drags.

    The end of the video is an archival snippet in which Malcolm is asked his solution to the race problem. His reply is, if anything, more relevant today than when he gave it. "The white man and the black man have to be able to sit down at the same table. The white man has to feel free to speak his mind without hurting the feelings of that Negro. And the so-called Negro has to feel free to speak his mind without hurting the feelings of the white man. Then they can bring the issues that are under the rug out on top of the table and take an intelligent approach to solving the problem."

    Every library should have this video.

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