The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925 in an Omaha hospital. He was born into a world of hatred and violence toward his kind, and from he was little, he knew that he would die in a similar manner. Malcolm's father (Earl) who was a large black man (6" 4') was a Baptist Minister. Though he and his family on many occasions were threatened by members of the Black legion and the Ku Klux Klan, that if he did not stop starting trouble amongst the "good" Niger's of Omaha with the "back to Africa" preaching of Marcus Garvey, that they would kill him.
Malcolm's father was not a scared man, and he continued to preach. Ever since Malcolm was little, he never had much respect for the Christian religion or the followers of it. One of Malcolm's earliest memories was an afternoon in 1921 when he had seen his mother and father fighting. In a fit of rage Earl stormed off, and was never seen alive by the members of the Little family again. Members of the Black Legion murdered him. Malcolm's mother was a strong woman, and refused to give up her children, and though they were poor, she attempted to support the large fatherless family without the charity of others.
Because a white man rapped Malcolm's mother's mother, Malcolm's mother had a Very light complexion that was easily mistaken for white. Though Malcolm's mother hated every drop of white blood in her, she was thankful that it made it that much easier to get jobs doing things Negroes normally wouldn't be trusted to do. But it seemed every time things were going well, an employer of nosey neighbor, would see widow Little with one or more of her black children, and would be fired.
Malcolm because of his hunger, and the poverty his family was stricken with became a juvenile delinquent. He began stealing foods from stands, and going about other less than legitimate way's of feeding himself. The state became aware of the Littles financial problems, and though Ms. Little didn't want to accept, was put on welfare. They were constantly under the surveillance of the state people, and when the stress became too much for Malcolm's mother to deal with alone, and she began to have a nervous breakdown, she was quickly put into Kalamazoo.
Malcolm due to his delinquent habits that had been observed while he was under the care of his mother, and his expulsion from regular school, was to be put into a reform school. Before Malcolm was to attend the reform school. He was to attend a Detention home in Mason. This detention hall was were all the bad kids of Ingham County were sent on their way to reform school. Malcolm became like a mascot in this "transition" school, and he actually did very well academically. He became one of the best students in the school.
Despite Malcolm's academic success, his most memorable occurrence at the school was when his English teacher asked him what he planned to be when he grew up. Malcolm who had really not given the topic much thought blurted out that he might become a lawyer. His English teacher told him "Malcolm, one of life's first needs is for us to be realistic. Don't misunderstand me now. We all like you, you know that. But you've got to be realistic about being a nigger. A lawyer-that's no realistic goal for a nigger."
What had hurt Malcolm the most was that this was coming from the same teacher who encouraged students who hadn't half as good grades as Malcolm to peruse their goals.
This little lecture had discouraged Malcolm, and he began to withdraw himself from school. And by some miracle his sister Ella was able to have him transferred to Massachusetts as soon as he had finished the 8th grade. He meets a man named Shorty, and he "schools him on how to be hip." It turned out that Shorty was also from Lansing. The two hit it off, and Shorty never knew how young Malcolm (who was then nicknamed Red) was.
At first the friends just have fun together going Lidney hopping, and conking their hair to look white, and "Red" being hooked up by Shorty's many connections. One night Malcolm decided to take a girl named Laura who he had become friendly with Lidney hopping. She had a very strict grandmother who she was living with, and she had a big fight with her about her attending the dance session with Malcolm. Laura was an excellent student, and was always reading a book. But the first fight with her grandmother had triggered something in her head, and she became insubordinate. She began using drugs, and started hating men, and became a lesbian. Malcolm throughout his life felt directly responsible for this.
Malcolm began seeing regularly a white woman named Sophia whom he had met at a Black dance. Though Sophia was a fully-grown woman, and Malcolm was barely 15, his appearance would never have given that away. To Malcolm this was a form of status, and to Sophia this was a way to satisfy her crave for black men.
Malcolm's sister Ella became aware of their seeing each other, and got him a job working as a vendor on trains. The destination of one of the train's stops is Harlem New York, and Malcolm found his calling. This new place was magnet, which Malcolm couldn't resist. The blacks around here were not like those he had seen else were. They were not all show. They unlike other blacks Malcolm had seen did not make a point of flashing whatever money they did have, but they would pay their dues with appropriate bills, and wouldn't try to give an image that they were financially secure.
Malcolm eventually moves away from Ella and moves down to Harlem. This begins again what had been contained for a good amount of time. Malcolm begins to run numbers, and sells drugs as well as use them. He becomes a hustler. He befriends other drug users, pimps, and prostitutes. He also befriends many famous black musicians whom he would sell and smoke refers with.
Malcolm's brother Reginald made his way down to Harlem to visit him every couple of weeks. He had always looked up to his brother. Shorty also visits him often, as did Sophia. One night Sophia brought her younger sister by, and her and Shorty hit it off instantly. Eventually the hustling game became to small to suit Malcolm's drug habit, and the four along with a friend of Shorty's began burglary. They make a good amount of money, and they had the girls purchase their store bought goods, and scout out their next hits. For it wasn't odd for white women to go on rather large shopping sprees, and to take surveys in rich white areas.
They do well for a good time. The girls had money to buy their clothes, and Malcolm and Shorty could buy their drugs, and Shorty's friend could have little extra bread to line his pockets. But the inevitable happened, and they were all caught. Shorty's friend Rudy escaped, but Shorty, Malcolm, Sophia, and her little sister all did time. Malcolm and Shorty were both sentenced to do 8 to 10, and the girls got 1 to 3 in separate women's correctional facility.
Malcolm kept high in prison in many new creative ways such as nutmeg. But he could barely maintain. Ella however was able to make some more magic, and had Malcolm transferred to a much nicer experimental prison. In this new prison Malcolm hated god. His atheism overwhelmed him. He would stay up a night and just curse it. But Malcolm in this new prison met a man named Bimbi, who was an educated black man. It was uncommon in prison for the whites to pay any attention to what the blacks had to say. But everyone listened to Bimbi as well as the guards. Bimbi took a liking to Malcolm, and Malcolm had a great respect for Bimbi. Bimbi was able to bash the white mans god in many ways, that actually held truth without even having to swear or use obscenities, and Malcolm admired this. Bimbi was the first Black man that Malcolm had met that demanded complete respect, and would not answer to such terms as "what 'cho know daddy?" Malcolm was so envious of Bimbi's knowledge that in prison he sought to gain his own.
While in jail his brother Reginald sent him a letter. It told him that if he wanted to get out of jail to stop eating pork, and swearing, and he would teach him the rest in future letters. Malcolm expected some sort of hype that would get him out on good behavior or something along those lines. But Reginald knew how Malcolm's mind worked, and he introduced him to the nation of Islam. His other Brother Philbert had become very religious. And Ella had become astonished at just how atheist Malcolm had become. But Malcolm did stop eating "swine" and he rid himself of his conked hair, and began on his quest for knowledge.
Malcolm began by reading an entire dictionary, and page by page began copying it down. His handwriting improved drastically, and Malcolm for the first time in his life upon the completion of the dictionary was able to read and understand. He began to read almost non-stop in prison. The prison library was donated by some rich person, and was more equipped than some public libraries. Malcolm's constant reading even in terrible lighting made his vision poor. He had entered prison with 20/20 vision, but had given him self an astigmatism. When he was finally released he was a changed man, In prison on a regular basis he had been writing to Elija Mohammed.
He became not only a Muslim, but also a minister. He recruited people to the nation of Islam. He turned his entire life around. He learned that his given name "Little" was the slave masters name, and he changed his last name to "X" signifying that it was unknown. Malcolm along with being a Minster became a civil rights leader. But he differed from other civil rights leaders in the sense that he didn't want to "integrate" the black man into that white mans society, but he rather wanted to "liberate" the black man. If he could not accomplish this he would want to separate not segregate, but completely separate from the white mans society. He felt that the white man was the devil. He was a great man, and it was a real shame when he was assassinated.
He was a great man, and I think that his autobiography affected me like no other book has. He led an amazing life, and in some aspects I can relate to him. I liked most about this story, that no one he had known when he was younger would have guessed he would be so successful. And I would have found it interesting, if Malcolm had been able to track down that English teacher of his, and to find out from him what he tough of him then.
This book was very well written, and I recommend it to any and everyone. Despite race gender or religious beliefs, this is an amazing book, and is hard to put down.