Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Reading in the "Prison" of Oppression: Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X College

Malcolm X and Fredrick Douglass both lived through social disadvantages and found the road to freedom. While Malcolm X faced seven years in prison in a literal sense, Douglass spent several years as a slave in his master’s house, which makes his time in “prison” more metaphorical than literal, though slavery is a prison all the same. Prison, to take the concept broadly, is a place in which people are unable to exercise their civil right to freedom. For both Malcolm X and Douglass, such limitations on freedom impacted their life in ways that they never would have imagined. They might even argue that prison turned them into better, more influential people than they would have been had they not experienced such trials.

Douglass was born in 1818, and Malcolm X was born in 1925. Even though the two men were born one hundred seven years apart, they faced similar experiences and beliefs. Before prison, Malcolm X received a seventh grade level education. He knew how to read, but he wasn’t literate enough to understand material that was put in front of him. It wasn’t until prison that he learned what many words meant and how to write properly. The dictionary was a valuable asset for Malcolm X’s literate growth.

For Douglass, the...

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