The Muslim Student Association will present a free Malcolm X movie series in honor of both the legendary figure and Black History Month. The MSA will present Spike Lee's Malcolm X and Malcolm X: Make it Plain.
"First of all, we want honor him, of course, because he was African American and Muslim," said Maha Ayesh, MSA president. "A lot of times he's looked at and (people) don't know what to think of him; they don't really know what his message was."
Ayesh said she hopes that watching the movies will encourage people to read Malcolm X's biography of "a great story of personal progress."
"Everybody can learn something from his life story," Ayesh said.
According to Ayesh, part of his greatness stemmed from the fact that he changed his beliefs over time. Malcolm X was, at first, very segregationist but realized that racism was a product of American society. Later in life, he believed that American society bred racism into white people, that they were not "born evil" and that society was what needed to be changed, Ayesh said.
"His beliefs transformed over time. A lot of people are really set in their ways," Ayesh said.
The first showing will take place in the University Center Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. tonight. MSA will feature the 1992 film Malcolm X directed by Spike Lee. Roger Ebert said the movie, which stars Denzel Washington, is "one of the great screen biographies, celebrating the whole sweep of an American life that began in sorrow and bottomed out on the streets and in prison before its hero reinvented himself."
Malcolm X: Make it Plain will be shown Sunday at 2 p.m. in the UC Auditorium. The PBS-produced documentary, which is narrated by Alfred Woodard, presents Malcolm's life throughout his numerous roles. The movie features over 30 interviews of Malcolm's family and acquaintances, along with extensive footage of Malcolm.
Earlier in the week, the MSA presented videos and speeches by Malcolm X at a table on the UC Plaza.
"I think (Malcolm's speeches) were shocking to a lot of people," Ayesh said. The speeches demonstrated the anger of the African American community at the time and that Malcolm X "shouted it back in people's faces."
For more information about the documentaries or the MSA, contact members through e-mail at msa@utk.edu or visit their Web site at www.msaknoxville.org.