A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Compassion for civil rights. Shared wisdom to inspire confidence. Strength to march to the beat of a different drum. Courage in the face of adversity.
Positive Role Models
Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) won the 1960 Olympic gold medal in the light heavyweight boxing division at age 18. Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali shared a student-teacher relationship: Malcolm shared his wisdom with Ali, who was 17 years younger. While growing up, both men received encouragement from their families.
Muhammad Ali, an African American born in the segregated South, won the 1960 Olympic gold medal in the light heavyweight boxing division at age 18, being widely recognized as world's greatest boxer ever in climate of racism. Ali and his mentor and friend Malcolm X spoke out publicly about systemic racism in America, set out to alleviate injustices against people of color. They traveled the world as global ambassadors for religious and social purposes. During era of early 1960s, when friendship of Ali and Malcolm flourished, as "brothers," women of color also became increasingly involved in various civil rights movements. Often, however, women didn't hold leadership roles and were objectified. Ilyasah Shabazz, a daughter of Malcolm featured in the film, is today a prominent social activist and published author.
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Violence & Scariness
References and images include archival footage and photos of the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till in an open casket, mutilated face shown following his death from racist attack. Police confront protesters with batons, dogs, water hoses. A lynched man hangs from a tree. Malcolm X alleges that Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad is the father of numerous kids conceived by teenage girls. The Queens, New York, house of Malcolm and family is firebombed with Molotov cocktails. Malcolm is assassinated; photos show his body removed from the building and in casket. Discussions about death of Malcolm's father, Earl Little, killed when a streetcar ran over him when his son was 6 years old. Media coverage of Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing, which killed four Black kids.
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Language includes the "N" word, "s--t," and "damn." Other language references include "colored," "Negro," and "Uncle Tom preachers." Discussions include denouncement of Christianity by Nation of Islam leaders who allege that it doesn't help Black people. Muhammad Ali calls White people "blue-eyed, blond-headed dogs." Malcolm X expresses joy about 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, refers to it as an instance of "chickens coming home to roost." Ali boxing opponent Sonny Liston is described as a "thug."
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Products & Purchases
References and images include boxing training camp signage, business storefronts, placards carried by protesters, apparel with designs, logos, and messages, social media platform YouTube. Malcolm X appears on a U.S. postage stamp. Archival footage of a Nation of Islam publication being promoted to passersby.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References and images include pack of cigarettes, smoking, and peddling bootleg whiskey and selling illegal substances known as dope.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali is a documentary based on the book written by sports historians Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith about the friendship between boxing champ Muhammad Ali and Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X from 1962–1965. One mission held by the two men is to confront systemic racism in the United States. References and images include archival footage and photos of the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till in an open casket with his mutilated face shown after a racist attack; media coverage of the Birmingham, Alabama, church bombing that killed four Black children; Malcolm's 1965 assassination; and smoking and the selling of bootleg whiskey and drugs. Language includes the "N" word, "s--t," and "damn." Other language references include "colored," "Negro," and "Uncle Tom preachers." Positive messages include courage in the face of adversity, confidence inspired from the shared wisdom of others, and compassion and empathy for human rights. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Filmmaker Marcus A. Clarke provides a superbly crafted study of the relationship between two of the world's most charismatic and controversial leaders in history. In Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali, the influential pair are seen by some as the "freest of Black men in the 20th century," notes Cornel West, political activist and professor at Harvard University. "On the other hand, there's a cross to bear, a tremendous cost in being a free and loving person." The relationship extended to gatherings of their families. "For my father to take his wife and his babies and go to [Ali's] home, it meant that my father trusted him 100%," says Ilyasah Shabazz, a social activist, author, and daughter of Malcolm. As a credible teaching tool for discussions about the lives of two iconic African American men who set out to make a difference in the world of the 1960s, Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali is a must-see!
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.