"The Autobiography of Malcolm X," Vocabulary from Chapters 14-19

"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. emissary
    someone sent on a mission to represent another's interests
    As Mr. Muhammad’s emissary, I went to Egypt, Arabia, to the Sudan, to Nigeria, and Ghana.
  2. prominence
    the state of being widely known or eminent
    You will often hear today a lot of the Negro leaders complaining that what thrust the Muslims into international prominence was the white man’s press, radio, television, and other media.
  3. vainglorious
    feeling self-importance
    He loves himself so much that he is startled if he discovers that his victims don’t share his vainglorious self-opinion.
  4. personification
    attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas
    Today’s Uncle Tom doesn’t wear a handkerchief on his head. This modern, twentieth-century Uncle Thomas now often wears a top hat. He’s usually well-dressed and well-educated. He’s often the personification of culture and refinement.
  5. segregation
    a social system with separate facilities for minority groups
    The Honorable Elijah Muhammad teaches us that segregation is when your life and liberty are controlled, regulated, by someone else.
  6. fervent
    characterized by intense emotion
    It is a miracle that a nation of black people has so fervently continued to believe in a turn-the-other-cheek and heaven-for-you-after-you-die philosophy!
  7. subsidize
    support through government grants
    Why shouldn’t this white man who likes to think and call himself so good, and so generous, this white man who finances even his enemies—why shouldn’t he subsidize a separate state, a separate territory, for we black people who have been such faithful slaves and servants?
  8. writhing
    moving in a twisting or snake-like or wormlike fashion
    The addict, writhing in pain, his nose and eyes running, is pouring sweat from head to foot. He’s trying to knock his head against the wall, flailing his arms, trying to fight his attendants, he is vomiting, suffering diarrhea.
  9. convalesce
    get over an illness or shock
    Despite the fact that Mr. Muhammad, convalescing, could no longer work the daily long hours he had previously worked in Chicago, he was now more than ever burdened with heavy decision-making and administrative duties.
  10. ambivalence
    mixed feelings or emotions
    One odd ambivalence was how some letters, otherwise all but championing Mr. Muhammad, would recoil at the expression “white devils.”
  11. interstice
    small opening between things
    Listen to this: “The dynamic interstices of the Harlem sub-culture have been oversimplified and distorted by Malcolm X to meet his own needs.”
  12. naive
    marked by or showing unaffected simplicity
    Where was the A-bomb dropped...“to save American lives”? Can the white man be so naive as to think the clear import of this ever will be lost upon the non-white two-thirds of the earth’s population?
  13. boycott
    refusal to have commercial dealings with some organization
    I’d get a question like this: “Mr. Malcolm X, you’ve often gone on record as disapproving of the sit-ins and similar Negro protest actions—what is your opinion of the Montgomery boycott that Dr. King is leading?”
  14. arrogance
    overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner
    I’d say, “Now, just imagine that! This good, hard-working, Christian-believing black woman, she’s paid her money, she’s in her seat. Just because she’s black, she’s asked to get up! I mean, sometimes even for me it’s hard to believe the white man’s arrogance!”
  15. malignant
    dangerous to health
    Is it clear why I have said that the American white man’s malignant superiority complex has done him more harm than an invading army?
  16. diatribe
    thunderous verbal attack
    But I will tell you that, without any question, the most bitter anti-white diatribes that I have ever heard have come from “passing” Negroes, living as whites, among whites, exposed every day to what white people say among themselves regarding Negroes—things that a recognized Negro never would hear.
  17. acquiesce
    agree or express agreement
    And this time the British acquiesced and helped them to wrest Palestine away from the Arabs, the rightful owners, and then the Jews set up Israel, their own country—the one thing that every race of man in the world respects, and understands.
  18. apt
    being of striking pertinence
    What originally was planned to be an angry riptide, one English newspaper aptly described now as “the gentle flood.”
  19. prejudice
    a partiality preventing objective consideration of an issue
    How was a one-day “integrated” picnic going to counter-influence these representatives of prejudice rooted deep in the psyche of the American white man for four hundred years?
  20. hoax
    subject to a playful joke
    But inevitably, the black masses started realizing they had been smoothly hoaxed again by the white man.
  21. unprecedented
    novel; having no earlier occurrence
    And, inevitably, the black man’s anger rekindled, deeper than ever, and there began bursting out in different cities, in the “long, hot summer” of 1964, unprecedented racial crises.
  22. bigotry
    the intolerance and prejudice of a bigot
    But I know that America’s five and a half million Jews (two million of them are concentrated in New York) look at it very practically, whether they know it or not: that all of the bigotry and hatred focused upon the black man keeps off the Jew a lot of heat that would be on him otherwise.
  23. ideology
    an orientation that characterizes the thinking of a group
    And we see again that not ideologies, but race, and color, is what binds human beings.
  24. caliber
    a degree or grade of excellence or worth
    There was no exchange between us; Betty said nothing, being the caliber of wife that she is, with the depth of understanding that she has—but I could feel the envelopment of her comfort.
  25. ensuing
    following immediately and as a result of what went before
    Over the ensuing years, I’d had various kinds of evidence that a high percentage of New York City’s black people responded to what I said, including a great many who would not publicly say so.
  26. rapport
    a relationship of mutual understanding between people
    I knew that the great lack of most of the big-named “Negro leaders” was their lack of any true rapport with the ghetto Negroes.
  27. intolerant
    unwilling to tolerate difference of opinion
    These ghetto teen-agers see the hell caught by their parents struggling to get somewhere, or see that they have given up struggling in the prejudiced, intolerant white man’s world.
  28. seething
    in constant agitation
    You let any of these bitter, seething ghettoes all over America receive the right igniting incident, and become really inflamed, and explode, and burst out of their boundaries into where whites live!
  29. waver
    move hesitatingly, as if about to give way
    Though at times I’d made Ella angry at me, beneath it all, since I had first come to her as a teen-aged hick from Michigan, Ella had never once really wavered from my corner.
  30. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
    And in everything I said to them, as long as we talked, they were aware of the yardstick that I was using to measure everything—that to me the earth’s most explosive and pernicious evil is racism, the inability of God’s creatures to live as One, especially in the Western world.
  31. animosity
    a feeling of ill will arousing active hostility
    The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities—he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites.
  32. unassailable
    without flaws or loopholes
    As I spoke, I felt the subjective and defensive reactions of the American white students present—but gradually their hostilities lessened as I continued to present the unassailable facts.
  33. duplicity
    the act of deceiving or acting in bad faith
    He said that behind the “diplomatic front” of every African U.N. official was recognition of the white man’s gigantic duplicity and conspiracy to keep the world’s peoples of African heritage separated—both physically and ideologically—from each other.
  34. apartheid
    a social policy of racial segregation
    I said, “All of Africa unites in opposition to South Africa’s apartheid, and to the oppression in the Portuguese territories."
  35. propaganda
    information that is spread to promote some cause
    I said I felt certain that the only reason black Africans—our black brothers—could be so silent about what happened in America was that they had been misinformed by the American government’s propaganda agencies.
  36. rampant
    occurring or increasing in an unrestrained way
    “Yes, I have been convinced that some American whites do want to help cure the rampant racism which is on the path to destroying this country!"
  37. impoverished
    poor enough to need help from others
    Our children are still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into a few fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.
  38. seditious
    arousing to action or rebellion
    I was, to hear him tell it, anti-American, un-American, seditious, subversive, and probably Communist.
  39. solidarity
    a union of interests or purposes among members of a group
    Well, in the competitive American society, how can there ever be any white-black solidarity before there is first some black solidarity?
  40. agnostic
    a person who claims the existence of God is unknowable
    Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds—some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists!

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