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Malcolm X

            Pick your Poison: The Similarities and Differences of Malcolm X and Russell Baker.
             Russell Baker and Malcolm X were both born in the year 1925. In the years to follow both of these prominent figures made their way down societies ever-winding paths while living two drastically different lives. Both men had similar troubles with overcoming obstacles and facing hardships, while at the same time the obstacles they faced were at the two different spectrums of society.
             Although Malcolm X in The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Russell Baker in Growing Up have very few similarities in the way they lived their everyday lives, they do share common themes that can be seen throughout their stages of life. The first was a major issue in society that affected each person at a very young age and continued to play a role in their developmental process. For Russell Baker it was the Great Depression and the hardships that it forced upon Russell and his mother. For an example Russell was sent off to sell the Saturday Evening Post at age eight, not only to teach him the value of earning an honest dollar, but the importance of avoiding the "plain workman's life" of his father (Baker 14). Malcolm X was born in the Midwest during a period of racially motivated violence and overall discrimination. For Malcolm X it was this racial hatred that forced him into hardships right away and slowly steered him down the wrong path. The second obstacle that Malcolm X and Russell had in common was that they both lost a parent at a very young age. Russell's father died when Russell was only five years old and Malcolm's father was murdered in a racially motivated crime while his mother was institutionalized. Russell, luckily, is left with a strong willed mother who pushes him along the way and believes that "with hard work, good character, and an honest nature a man could make something out of himself in bad times" (68).

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