The Autobiography of Malcolm X



BOOKREPORT
by Maximilian Schreder
Malcolm X
The Autobiography as told to Alex Haley


Introduction

When Malcolm X was murdered in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem on February 21, 1965, he was world-famous as "the angriest black man in America." By that time he had completed his autobiography, so we have now the opportunity to get information of this both hated and loved Afro-American leader’s life at first hand. The book "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," which he wrote with the assistance of Alex Haley, was first published in 1965.

The Two Authors

Malcolm X did not write his autobiography on his own, but he told his life to the journalist and novelist Alex Haley. Haley had already interviewed Malcolm X for the Playboy magazine. Later, he asked him if he would tell his life story for publication. Malcolm accepted.

Summary

Malcolm Little was born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska. The son of Louise and Earl Little. Louise Little was a mulatto born in Grenada in the British West Indies and Earl Little, a six-foot, very dark skinned man from Reynolds, Georgia, was a Baptist minister and organiser for Marcus Garvey, who wanted that all Afro-Americans go back to the land of their ancestors, Africa. Louise, his second wife, bore six children: Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Malcolm, Yvonne, and Reginald. Earl Little also had three children by a first wife: Ella, Earl, and Mary. Because of the father’s advocacy for Garvey’s movement, the whole family was terrorised by the Ku Klux Klan. To avoid any more harassment by these white racists, Little had to migrate with his family to Lansing, Michigan. It did not help. The white racists of Lansing killed Malcolm’s father by laying him on a railway track, claiming he committed suicide. Alone and without money, Louise Little got more and more desperate, till the white authorities sent her to a mental hospital.
Malcolm attended school until eighth grade living with different families. When his teacher stopped him from trying to become a lawyer, he dropped out of school and went to his older half sister, Ella, who lived in Boston. There, he took a job as a shoeshine boy at the Roseland Ballroom. A career as a hustler seemed a more tempting option, and he was soon peddling narcotics. He met a white girl called Sophia who quickly became his girlfriend. Having a white girl and being a very good dancer, he soon was a notorious young man with crazy clothes and a haircut made to resemble the hair of white people, which he was very ashamed of later.
But Roxbury proved to be too small for him, and in 1942 he took a job as a railroad dining-car porter, working out of Roxbury and New York. Settling in Harlem, New York, he became more and more involved in criminal activities. He robbed, worked as a pimp, and sold narcotics.
Malcolm soon learned to survive in the hustler society, which was constantly threatened by internal wars that could render every man your enemy. In Harlem he also got his nickname "Detroit Red", because his home town Lansing was close to Detroit and his hair was red. After a year in Harlem, Malcolm was officially initiated into hustler society. He returned to Boston in 1945 after falling out with another hustler, and continued a life of crime, forming his own house robbing gang. Arrested for robbery in February 1946, he was convicted and sentenced to prison for seven years.
While in prison, Malcolm became a follower of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of a small black cult, the "Nation of Islam", with branches in Detroit, Chicago and New York. Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad corresponded by mail. Malcolm\'s brothers Philbert and Reginald, visiting him in prison, urged him to join Muhammad\'s cult, and while still in prison he did. He discarded his "slave name," Little, and took the new name "X". He improved his poor knowledge by reading an encyclopaedia and studied plenty of books as well as the Koran and followed strictly the Nation of Islam\'s dietary laws and moral codes.
After his parole in 1952, Malcolm X undertook organisational work for the "Nation of Islam" under the guidance of Elijah Muhammad. Minister Malcolm X founded mosques in Boston, Philadelphia, Harlem and elsewhere and