Few figures in American history have as controversial a legacy as Malcolm X. Some view the civil rights leader as the violent counterpart to Martin Luther King, Jr. Some see him as an icon of empowerment, while others view him as a dangerous radical. What people think they know of him may depend on whether they're looking at his early or later speeches, or whether they're getting information about him from a source that views him positively or negatively.
The reality is that Malcolm X's life is one marked by complexity and change, which makes defining his legacy in a nutshell nearly impossible. In an era where political polarization tempts us to place people neatly into ideological boxes— and where changing one's views is often branded as flip-flopping or wishy-washiness—Malcolm X's ever-evolving message and approach to civil rights is a reminder that no one can—or should—be confined to a soundbite.
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