Malcolm x was only violent in the face of violence. It's pretty ironic that Martin Luther King is in U.S. history books but Malcolm X is rarely if ever metioned. As someone stated earlier Malcolm X is a part of US history and even through he wasn't a saint this whole country was founded through violence.
Whether or not you agree with his methods, Malcom X is an influential and vital part of American history. A counterpoint to Martin Luther King Jr.'s non-violent preaching, Malcolm X's militant stance made quite a few people think twice about where this country was headed if they kept treating blacks unequally.
We need to bring our curriculum more and more up-to-date. We are badly out of touch, and our students are not challenged at all to integrate and digest what's going on in their world. Malcolm X brings us closer to issues that have affected us in recent history, and his life and times were 50 years ago. We need even more recent issues explicitly integrated into the mandated curricular standards everywhere, not just for the well-to-do students in "honors" and "AP" civics and debate classes.
Malcolm X was an important part of the civil rights movement, as he represented a radical alternative to Martin Luther King's message. Teaching students about Malcolm X also helps bring greater context to message and legacy King has left this country with. Also, Malcolm X has been much misunderstood, as his views were rapidly changing before he was murdered.
I suppose the argument against Malcolm X being taught would be the one where he advocated violence. I personally don't believe in violence, but the fact is that we can't pull the covers over our heads about it. Violence is a part of world history, U.S. history, ancient and modern history and present-day events that will become history. If we want to make it less about violence when teaching Malcolm X, we could examine his life to the very end, where he embraced non-violence through his Islam conversion. That could teach something about Islam that just might dispel some present-day beliefs and attitudes.
The life and work of Malcolm X should be taught in elementary and high school, and included in history lessons. It should not be a subject taught only at the college level. There is a lot of misinformation about him out there. Most people just view him as a revolutionary, and don't know about his life and eventual transformation, and his understanding of the forces that drive society.