When Sam Goscinski’s father, Joe, asked him if he wanted to go on a cross-country trip, Sam almost immediately asked to visit Malcolm X’s birthplace in Omaha, Nebraska. He gave the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation $1,000 he had saved from his job at Hannaford.

The two took a 12-day journey across several states, visiting unique national parks from the Badlands to Yellowstone. Neither had been that far west before and Goscinski said they were amazed by the grandeur of sights like the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. But he said his favorite part of the trip was visiting and donating to the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation.

The 20-year-old autistic man said the social struggles Black Americans face and their fight to seek justice for historic and current racial disparities resonate with him. He said he feels empowered by Malcolm X’s words and ideas, mainly the use of force in self-defense.

“I think Brother Malcolm’s fight-fire-with-fire mentality really appeals to me,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for that kind of mentality. I think Brother Malcolm was more skilled at keeping the racists in line.”

Malcolm X was a controversial figure during the ’60s and ’70s civil rights era. He was responsible for increasing the number of people in the Nation of Islam from 500 to 30,000 in about a 10-year span in the U.S., according to the Malcolm X Memorial Foundation website. He changed his last name to X to represent his unknown lost African heritage.

Goscinski said he was bullied by classmates at Belfast Area High School. They used his fear of vampires, which he said he no longer has, to get a rise out of him. He never fought back when he was a teenager, but wishes now that he had defended himself.

He has become more vocal and active about fighting oppression and standing against the hate that many people face, his father said. He informed his Hannaford manager about hate speech written in a men’s bathroom stall and was pleased to see the store take immediate action to remove it.

Lethal force should be used against anybody harming another person based on their race, sexuality, gender or religion, he said. If more people used force against oppressors, he believes America's social justice issues would have been resolved by now.

Goscinski realizes that a lot of people might find some of his opinions extreme, but he argues that extreme action needs to be taken to end the United States' history of racism. In the Marvel movie "Black Panther," he admires the movie’s villain, Killmonger, because he feels the character represents justified anger and tries to use force to seek vengeance on his enemies and end oppressive institutions.

The movie’s hero and villain mirror many of the differences between civil rights leader Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Both men fought for civil rights, but they had different ideas about how to go about fighting racist U.S. laws and institutions.

Goscinski respects King as a civil rights leader, but thinks Malcolm X’s methods are more effective in creating change.

Joe said his son has views all of his own that sometimes differ from his and those of other family members. Goscinski’s views have made his father question and at times change his outlook on certain things, particularly about Malcolm X.

“I was taught that Malcolm X was an angry man — an angry, violent man,” Joe said. “And Martin Luther King was a very nice and civil man who was fighting for Black rights. And I saw the movie several years ago with Denzel Washington and came away impressed by that, but still that opinion had never went any further than that, even having a little bit more of an understanding of him.

“But then when Sam took an interest (in Malcolm X) I took one, and I’ve learned so much more. And I learned that some of my points of view, quite frankly, were ignorant … and it’s nice to have my eyes opened even more.”