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Malcolm X (film opening)

Malcolm X (1992) is a three and a half hour film based on Alex Hayley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X directed by Spike Lee. While it is regarded as one of the greatest movies of the 20th century, due to the controversial figure at its center, the film went through difficulties in getting made both from supporters and critics of Malcolm., follows Malcolm through his childhood in Michigan, teen years in Boston, his criminal career, his incarceration, his conversion to Islam, his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam and his later falling out with the organization, his marriage to Betty X, his pilgrimage to Mecca and reevaluation of his views concerning whites, and his assassination on February 21, 1965. This opening scene from the movie shows a U.S. flag burning spliced with the real footage of Rodney King being beaten by Los Angeles Police Officers from March 3rd 1991 while Malcolm (played by Denzel Washington) gives a speech entitled “I Have a Nightmare (I Charge the White Man).”


Why do you think the film begins with this speech by Malcolm X overlaid on the American flag?

Malcolm X’s speech is entitled “I Have a Nightmare.” How does the footage of the Rodney King beating by police officers (almost 30 years after Malcolm X’s assassination) relate to the title and words of the speech?

What does the burning of the flag symbolize? How does its burning relate to Malcolm X’s discussion of what it means to be an American?

Do you agree with what Malcolm X said? Was it relevant then? Is it still relevant now?



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