Sunday, February 07, 2021

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley

 The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley is a very detailed book originally published in 1964, one which I became interested in from mention of Malcolm X in the book King of the World on Muhammad Ali. 

Malcolm X's autobiography traces his life, starting in Lansing, Michigan to then, shortly after he became a teenager, hustling in Boston and later New York City. He went to jail for robbery in his early 20s, and while incarcerated, was introduced to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and his Nation of Islam. Malcolm X started writing letters daily to Muhammad and also read voraciously over his seven years in prison.

After his release, Malcolm X began recruiting to get people to join the Nation of Islam, helped establish new temples, and became a minister himself. He became well known as he proselytized for the words of Muhammad and the idea of blacks needing to separate from whites. Eventually there grew to be a resentment of Malcolm X, a belief by some that his speaking of the Nation of Islam and teachings of Muhammad was actually about himself, and eventually Muhammad cast Malcolm X out of the Nation. 

This led to him going through a transformation, one where statements by Malcolm X on race changed and he set aside his prior preaching about racial separation and began to speak of how whites and blacks could live together. The story of Malcolm X feels an incomplete one, as there likely much more he would had added on the subject of race relations had he not been murdered by Nation of Islam members loyal to Elijah Muhammad.