Project Reviews

Malcolm X: A Research Site
Created and maintained by Abdul Alkalimat, the University of Toledo, and Twenty-first Century Books

Launched in 1999 by the University of Toledo and Twenty-first Century Books, Malcolm X: A Research Site operates under the direction of Africana Studies Professor Abdul Alkalimat. He seeks to produce scholarly research on Malcolm X, his life, and activities and provide a “serious look at his words, written and spoken, a webliography, extensive chronology, bibliography and study guide." Alkalimat believes that Malcolm X was a force for positive change, especially in the African-American community, and uses the site as a celebration of his life as well as a repository for relevant information, including speeches, letters, pictures, conference information, and genealogical materials.

The front page centers on the large word "Malcolm" in red, presented vertically on a solid black background near a list of links and a shadowed head-and-shoulder image of Malcolm X. The navigation features white letters and sits in the center of the page. The central navigation column is flanked by a large box advertising videos of Malcolm X on various other linked websites, including You-Tube, Google, and AOL Video. The site's darkness exudes an immediate serious impression emphasized by a scrolling marquee that states: "Our greatest challenge is to understand Malcolm X's method of critical independent thinking.” Although Professor Alkalimat’s project does much to this end, a glaring lack of text documents and few options for their use limits the site's usefulness.

From the main page, the user can navigate to 12 links, including: Introduction, Index, Chronology, Family, Speeches, Words, Photographs, Search, and a Study Guide, several of which feature the solid black background. Other pages have a white background that disrupts the site's continuity somewhat. Two additional links, Radical Black Tradition and Legacy of Malcolm X, are not active, but give an idea of the site's future direction. Each link provides valuable information, organized in a systematic manner. In addition to a very good chronology, a detailed family tree, and a webliography of other Malcolm X sites with links to each, the website features dozens of pictures and speeches. The Speeches page has 24 links to speeches ranging in length from six minutes to almost two hours. Each is broken into Real Audio (.ra) files suitable for fast downloading, although not all media players can play such files. The Words link disappoints, however. Although the site features an extensive list of Malcolm X's letters and speeches, the user can read less than twenty and search none of them.

Malcolm X: A Research Site has clear potential for use by scholars and researchers, especially the audio speeches collection and the excellent bibliography and webliography. The search function retrieves events from the chronology, but does not offer the ability to view terms taken from his written works. Although excellent as a storehouse for Malcolm X materials, the website would be much improved with additional written materials, such as speech transcripts and a greater selection of letters, available in searchable form. Much of the site features scans of newspaper articles and documents that are unavailable in the search feature. These documents would make the site far more valuable and fill a great need.

Nathan Sanderson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Reviewed: Spring 2007