"The Autobiography of Malcolm X," Vocabulary from Chapters 10-13

"The Autobiography of Malcolm X" bears witness to the gradual development of a revolutionary consciousness that endeavored to change the world.

Learn these word lists for the autobiography: Chapters 1-4, Chapters 5-9, Chapters 10-13, Chapters 14-19

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. legible
    capable of being read or deciphered
    After about a year, I guess, I could write a decent and legible letter.
  2. tutelage
    teaching pupils individually
    Under Bimbi’s tutelage, too, I had gotten myself some little cellblock swindles going.
  3. graft
    offering something to gain an illicit advantage
    In place of the atmosphere of malicious gossip, perversion, grafting, hateful guards, there was more relative “culture,” as “culture” is interpreted in prisons.
  4. lenient
    not strict
    The visiting rules, far more lenient than other prisons’, permitted visitors almost every day, and allowed them to stay two hours.
  5. spectrum
    a broad range of related objects or values or qualities
    I never will forget: my mind was involuntarily flashing across the entire spectrum of white people I had ever known; and for some reason it stopped upon Hymie, the Jew, who had been so good to me.
  6. pillage
    steal goods; take as spoils
    “The devil white man,” down through history, out of his devilish nature, had pillaged, murdered, raped, and exploited every race of man not white.
  7. heathen
    a person who does not acknowledge your god
    This “Negro” was taught of his native Africa that it was peopled by heathen, black savages, swinging like monkeys from trees.
  8. deprived
    marked by a state of extreme poverty
    The black prisoner, he said, symbolized white society’s crime of keeping black men oppressed and deprived and ignorant, and unable to get decent jobs, turning them into criminals.
  9. implore
    call upon in supplication
    For evil to bend its knees, admitting its guilt, to implore the forgiveness of God, is the hardest thing in the world.
  10. emulate
    strive to equal or match, especially by imitating
    Bimbi had always taken charge of any conversation he was in, and I had tried to emulate him.
  11. atrocity
    an act of shocking cruelty
    I read descriptions of atrocities, saw those illustrations of black slave women tied up and flogged with whips; of black mothers watching their babies being dragged off, never to be seen by their mothers again; of dogs after slaves, and of the fugitive slave catchers, evil white men with whips and clubs and chains and guns.
  12. alliance
    the state of being confederated
    We can see in the United Nations a new world order being shaped, along color lines—an alliance among the non-white nations.
  13. immigrant
    a person who comes to a country in order to settle there
    Four hundred years of black blood and sweat invested here in America, and the white man still has the black man begging for what every immigrant fresh off the ship can take for granted the minute he walks down the gangplank.
  14. fascist
    an adherent of right-wing authoritarian views
    These three, it’s said, laid the groundwork on which the Fascist and Nazi philosophy was built.
  15. unearth
    recover through digging
    Below the Sahara, in the places where most of America’s Negroes’ foreparents were kidnapped, there is being unearthed some of the finest craftsmanship, sculpture and other objects, that has ever been seen by modern man.
  16. conspiracy
    a secret agreement to perform an unlawful act
    I’d explain to them that the real truth was known to some white men, the scholars; but there had been a conspiracy down through the generations to keep the truth from black men.
  17. ambitious
    having a strong desire for success or achievement
    You let this caged-up black man start thinking, the same way I did when I first heard Elijah Muhammad’s teachings: let him start thinking how, with better breaks when he was young and ambitious he might have been a lawyer, a doctor, a scientist, anything.
  18. suspicious
    openly distrustful and unwilling to confide
    I had never dreamed of anything like that atmosphere among black people who had learned to be proud they were black, who had learned to love other black people instead of being jealous and suspicious.
  19. anticipate
    regard something as probable or likely
    And for me to be patient was made easier by the fact that I could anticipate soon seeing and perhaps meeting the man who was called “The Messenger,” Elijah Muhammad himself.
  20. sincerity
    the quality of being open and truthful
    And even when events produced a crisis between Elijah Muhammad and me, I told him at the beginning of the crisis, with all the sincerity I had in me, that I still believed in him more strongly than he believed in himself.
  21. extemporaneous
    with little or no preparation or forethought
    Soon after that, Minister Lemuel Hassan urged me to address the brothers and sisters with an extemporaneous lecture.
  22. rebuff
    reject outright and bluntly
    Time and again Mr. Muhammad’s teachings were rebuffed and even ridiculed.
  23. gall
    the trait of being rude and impertinent
    “Turn around and look at each other, brothers and sisters, and think of this! You and me, polluted all these colors—and this devil has the arrogance and the gall to think we, his victims, should love him!”
  24. atone
    make amends for
    “Every white man in America, when he looks into a black man’s eyes, should fall to his knees and say ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry—my kind has committed history’s greatest crime against your kind; will you give me the chance to atone?’
  25. subjugate
    make subservient; force to submit or subdue
    I want you, when you leave this room, to start to see all this whenever you see this devil white man. Oh, yes, he’s a devil! I just want you to start watching him, in his places where he doesn’t want you around; watch him reveling in his preciousness, and his exclusiveness, and his vanity, while he continues to subjugate you and me.
  26. welter
    a confused multitude of things
    I can’t start to describe for you my welter of emotions.
  27. pretense
    the act of giving a false appearance
    We by-passed the larger churches with their higher ratio of so-called “middle-class” Negroes who were so full of pretense and “status” that they wouldn’t be caught in our little storefront.
  28. insubordination
    defiance of authority
    No lying or stealing, and no insubordination to civil authority, except on the grounds of religious obligation.
  29. vocation
    the particular occupation for which you are trained
    We began now getting those with some education, both academic, and vocations and trades, and even some with “positions” in the white world, and all of this was starting to bring us closer to the desired fast car for Mr. Muhammad to drive.
  30. abrogate
    revoke formally
    They deal with the responsibilities of a husband and father; what to expect of women; the rights of women which are not to be abrogated by the husband; the importance of the father-male image in the strong household; current events; why honesty, and chastity, are vital in a person, a home, a community, a nation, and a civilization; why one should bathe at least once each twenty-four hours; business principles; and things of that nature.
  31. devoted
    dedicated exclusively to a purpose or use
    Fridays are devoted to Civilization Night, when classes are held for brothers and sisters in the area of the domestic relations, emphasizing how both husbands and wives must understand and respect each other’s true natures.
  32. ostracize
    avoid speaking to or dealing with
    Every Muslim minister is always hearing the problems of young people whose parents have ostracized them for becoming Muslims.
  33. transcend
    go beyond the scope or limits of
    But love transcends just the physical.
  34. disposition
    a natural or acquired habit or characteristic tendency
    Love is disposition, behavior, attitude, thoughts, likes, dislikes—these things make a beautiful woman, a beautiful wife.
  35. appraise
    consider in a comprehensive way
    But the police department, to be sure, pulled out and carefully studied the files on the Nation of Islam, and appraised us with new eyes.

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