In light of black history month, which is all year around for me, I’ve decided to do a review of one of the best books I have ever read in my life. For the last 6 months, I have been reading the autobiography of Malcolm X and I just finished it up last night. I normally read an entire book in a week or two, but this one took a very long time for me to finish because I would take weeks in between reading a chapter to add the knowledge I gained to my research for a new book that I am working on. Nevertheless, the inspirational wisdom that I have gained from reading about this man’s life is priceless and I wanted to share with you why I think that every black person in America should read his book.
As a child growing up in the Christian Church and being raised by a very religious family; Malcolm X and Muslims in general were always frowned upon. From a youth, I was always taught by my family that any religion other than Christianity was of the Devil and that Muslims were a part of the Anti-Christ. Therefore since people like Malcolm X were not mentioned about in school or church, I never had the opportunity to learn about him and other black leaders like him, such as Marcus Garvey, Fred Hampton, or Mumia Jamal when I was young. If you were raised in the church and was born in the 80’s or before like me, then I’m sure you had the same experience.
It wasn’t until I became an adult and later broke free from our slavemaster’s religion of Christianity and start teaching myself about our great black leaders of the past such as Malcolm X. But although I had watched his movie several times when I was young and learned a great deal about him as an adult; reading his book truly enlightened me on who this man really was (since it was in his own words). And after having spent the last few years re-educating myself of the struggle our people have been going through during our 500 year stint in America, I believe that Malcolm X is by far, the greatest black leader of the 20th century.
Contrary to what Christianity, mainstream media or our brainwashed family members have taught to us about Malcolm X; he was not a hate preacher or an Anti-Christ. In fact, Malcolm lived more like the biblical Jesus than any Christian pastor in America both past and present. Just like the Christ, he preached truth to power and put his life on the line for his people. Because of that, his own people killed him just like they did Jesus. But while He was here, Malcolm X did more for our people in regards to our mental, physical and spiritual rehabilitation than any of our other black leaders before and after him. And I want to share a little about that with you in this article.
There are many lessons can be learned from the life of Malcolm X, but I will share with you the most important below. Here are 4 reasons why you need to read his book:
You Will Learn How Racism Effects Young Black Men
“I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
In 1925, Malcolm X was the youngest of 8 brothers and sisters to be born of Earl Little and Louise Little. His father Earl, was a leader in Marcus Garvey’s Negro Improvement Association and was often taunted and threatened by white police officers and the KKK for speaking out against how white folks were oppressing black folks. This lead to their house being burnt down to the ground when Malcolm was 4 and to the murder of his dad, Earl when Malcolm was 7. Although there were witnesses who saw that the KKK had done this; the Police ruled both incidents as accidents.
After Malcolm’s father died, the family became poorer and poorer and their Mother Louise began to lose her mind due to all of the stress of raising 8 children all by herself. As a result, they had to get on welfare and accept every government aid assistance that was available only to barely make it from month to month; just like the vast majority of black folks living in the 1920’s. Malcolm recalled that he and his siblings would often go hungry and it was because of this hunger that lead to begin stealing. But sometimes Malcolm would get caught stealing and the welfare people would threaten to take him away and send him to a foster family.
As Malcolm began to get caught stealing more and more, the welfare people took him away from his mother and sent him to go live with a white family. Eventually, the state took each one of Malcolm’s brothers and sisters and sent them to live with different families. Losing all of her children lead to their mother having a complete mental breakdown and the court ordered her to go to the crazy house; where she lived the next 37 years of her life. After Malcolm’s entire family split up and he had lived with his white foster parents for a few years; Malcolm began to start understanding what racism truly was.
The turning point in Malcolm X’s childhood came in 1939, when his English teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he answered that he wanted to be a lawyer. His teacher responded, “One of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic… you’ve got to be realistic about being a nigger… a lawyer is no realistic goal for a nigger … you need to think of something you can be … why don’t you plan on carpentry?” Malcolm recalled of this incident as a defining moment in his life, stating that “It was there when I began to change inside”. After basically being told that it was no point in a black child pursing higher education, Malcolm X dropped out of school the following year, at the age of 15.
After quitting school, Malcolm X moved to Boston to live with his older half-sister, Ella, about whom he later recalled, “She was the first really proud black woman I had ever seen in my life. She was plainly proud of her very dark skin. This was unheard of among Negroes in those days.” This was Malcolm’s first re-acquaintance with someone being ‘black and proud’ since his father was alive. However, with no hope of pursuing an education; Malcolm became acquainted with the city’s criminal underground. Malcolm, who became known as “Red” meant another Malcolm, nicknamed “Shorty”, and they became best friends. Shorty schooled Malcolm on the streets and hustling and eventually Malcolm began running numbers and selling dope.
Malcolm later became a very well-known drug dealer in both Boston and Harlem and was the weed man for many men famous black musicians during the 40’s. He also picked up the habit of smoking weed and snorting cocaine. Sporting flamboyant pinstriped zoot suits, he frequented nightclubs and dance halls and turned more fully to crime to finance his lavish lifestyle. Malcolm lived the life that most modern day rappers only talk about. However, this phase of Malcolm X’s life came to a screeching halt in 1946, when he and his friend shorty was arrested on charges of larceny and sentenced to ten years in jail.
You Will Learn How Important Re-Education Is To Your Destiny
“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” – Malcolm X
When Malcolm X entered prison in 1946 at the age of 20 years old, He was dope addict with no idea of who He was or what He was put on this Earth to do. He also didn’t believe in God or the concept of God and had characteristics about him that were so evil; the inmates nicked named him “Satan.” During Malcolm’s first year in prison, He meant a guy named “Bimbi” who made a great impression on him and later inspired him to change the direction of his life. In his own words, “What fascinated me with him most of all was that he was the first man I had ever seen command total respect…with his words.” Malcolm said that “Normally, white prisoners wouldn’t think of listening to negro prisoners’ opinions on anything, but guards, even would wander over close to hear Bimbi on any subject.”
Intrigued at seeing a black man speak with such boldness and authority even in the face of whites, made Malcolm to seek Bimbi’s friendship. Bimbi told Malcolm that He “had some brain” if he used them and challenged him to take advantage of the prison courses and the library. With nothing but time on his hands, Malcolm took his advice and took a course in English. After learning how to read and write the language beyond ebonics, he started taking other courses and reading books on everything from history to philosophy. For the rest of Malcolm’s prison life, He read constantly, devouring books from the prison library in an attempt make up for the years of education he had missed by dropping out of high school.
During Malcolm’s early stage of personal growth in prison, Malcolm receive letters and was visited by several of his siblings who had joined to the Nation of Islam, and that He should pray to Allah (the Arabic word for God, in reference to the God of The Hebrews) and be converted to a Muslim for deliverance. What really impacted Malcolm was his brother Philbert’s letter to him that stated, “Malcolm, don’t eat any more pork, and don’t smoke any more cigarettes. I’ll show you how to get out of prison.” Although Malcolm wasn’t sure of Islam or Allah yet; his desperation for getting out of prison early led him to quitting eating both pork and smoking.
Malcolm’s family began writing him telling him about a man named Elijah Muhammad, and that He was the messenger of Allah on Earth and urged him to accept his teachings. After frequent conversations with his brother Philbert and reading letters from his siblings, Malcolm was convinced that there was a God and that His name was Allah; and Elijah Muhammad was his current messenger. Note: I do NOT believe that Elijah Muhammad was the messenger of God: I’m just stating Malcolm’s beliefs during that time period in his life. Meanwhile, as Malcolm began to study and learn the teachings of Elijah Muhammad (which were mostly true), he finally began to understand the plight of Black America for the first time in his life.
The teachings of Elijah Muhammad was centered around educating Black America of how they have been brainwashed by white America through religion and school to hate themselves and to desire to be like white people. Upon studying his teachings, Malcolm was able to look back at all the events that took place in his life (and all the other black people he knew growing up) and see how He too had been brainwashed to unconsciously hate himself and to view white people as superior to him and that Elijah Mohammad’s teachings (at that time) were indeed true. He then embraced Elijah’s teachings, became a Muslim and began applying the Quran’s spiritual principles to his life.
You Will Learn What True Repentance Looks Like
“To have once been a criminal is no disgrace. To remain a criminal is the disgrace.” – Malcolm X
Malcolm’s brother’s promise to him that He would get out of prison early if he converted to Islam came true in 1952, when Malcolm was released from prison on parole after only serving 7 years of his 10 year sentence. Upon his release, he abandoned his surname “Little”, which was the slave name of his ancestor’s slave master, in favor of the surname “X”—a tribute to the unknown name of his African ancestors. Now a free man, Malcolm X moved to Detroit, Michigan to live with his brother, Wilfred, who was also a Muslim; to live a clean life and fellowship with other Muslims.
Malcolm immediately joined the local Temple in Detroit, which was the very first temple of the NOI. Living in a house full of Muslims on top of being a member of the NOI, Malcolm got the chance to experience firsthand how righteous and devoted black Muslims lived (back then in the 50’s) outside of prison. The Black Muslims back in those days acted, dressed, and spoke in a righteous manner and were sincerely devoted to helping other black folks better their condition. Malcolm recalled “I had never dreamed of anything like that atmosphere among black people who had learned to be proud they were black, who had learned to love other black people instead of being jealous and suspicious…The Salutations we all exchanged were warm, filled with mutual respect and dignity”.
Witnessing all of the love that black Muslims had for one another, increased Malcolm’s faith in his religion and made him want to spread the word to other black folks in the ghettos of America to help free them from going down the wrong path that he had traveled. However, at the time of Malcolm’s arrival to the NOI, there were only about 400 members nationwide and there was always emptied seats at the temple. This angered Malcolm very much as He felt that every black person in the city of Detroit desperately needed to hear the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. So Malcolm drove to Chicago, where Mr. Muhammad lived, to hear him speak for the very first time and to ask him how he could help spread his teachings. Mr. Muhammad advice to Malcolm was to “go after the young people.” Malcolm took that advice to heart and never looked back.
Every day, without fail, Malcolm would hit the streets of Detroit to chat with thugs, robbers, drunks, prostitutes, and criminals about the teachings of the NOI. And within a few short months, the temple of Detroit had “tripled its membership”. The more and more Malcolm pounded the streets fishing for men, the more and more the Detroit temple grew. Elijah Muhammad was so pleased with Malcolm’s work, He later made him the head minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and Temple No. 11 in Boston sent him to different cities around the USA to establish more Muslim temples. And that He did!
By the early 1960’s, Malcolm had helped to build new Muslim temples all over the USA and grew the NOI from a few hundred members to over one hundred thousand members. He also established the national newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, in order to further promote the message of the Nation of Islam to Black America. As the NOI grew and the media began to share news about the Black Muslims of America Malcolm became the most famous black leader in America: both in the states and abroad. Because of his commitment to putting into practice the spiritual teachings of the Quran (many of which came directly from the bible), Malcolm had went from being an ignorant low life prison inmate, to an internationally known speaker for the masses of black folk who had no voice.
You Will Learn The Difference Between A Shepherd & A Sell Out
“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” – Malcolm X
The main reason why Malcolm X became so famous in the 1960’s was because he was the only black man with a national voice to speak out against the injustices of White America without fear every time he got a chance to speak. Unlike Dr. Martin Luther King and other black leaders during the 60’s, Malcolm X told the naked, un-politically correct truth about the racism of the U.S. government and white America; constantly exposing them for their hypocrisy. And black folks loved Malcolm for that because no other black leader during those times had the courage to speak up for black folks to white people the way He did. Malcolm spoke what average black people were thinking, but were too afraid to say; and what privileged black people did not want him to say.
One of Malcolm’s good friends, the famous actor Ossie Davis, wrote that: “Protocol and common sense require that Negroes stand back and let the white man speak up for us, defend us, and lead us from behind the scene in our fight …But Malcolm said to hell with that! Get up off your knees and fight your own battles. That’s how you win back your self-respect. That’s the way to make the white man respect you. And if he won’t let you live like a man, he certainly can’t keep you from dying like one! …He kept shouting the painful truth that we whites and blacks did not want to hear. And he wouldn’t stop for the love of money. He would make you angry as hell, but he would also make you proud. It was impossible to remain defensive and apologetic about being a Negro in his presence. He wouldn’t let you.”
What made Malcolm X so special was that He truly had no hidden agenda; his only mission in life was to liberate the minds of his people so that black people could unite and become economically independent. He was a true leader of our people and spoke truth to power at all costs to help us liberate ourselves from allowing White America to continue to oppress us. He wasn’t trying to win any awards, become a politician, or integrate with our oppressors; He was just trying to play his part in ushering his people into freedom. And He was willing to die for it at all cost. This is what makes him in my opinion, the greatest black leader of the 20th century.
When you take a look at the vast majority of black people today who claim to be our leaders; they all people have one thing in common. They are all politically correct conformists, who promote integrating into the same Babylonian system that is oppressing us, as the solution for our personal success. In fact, most black leaders today are either FBI informants, free masons, or just bourgeoisie black folks who love white people more than their own that are put in positions of power to talk down about their own people. This is why you don’t see these so-called black leaders today speak out against White America for their crimes against us or create organizations to help us better ourselves; because they have all sold out for riches and fame.
Malcolm wasn’t anything like the leaders of our day. Instead of fighting for integration, He fought against it. He believed that integration is the cause of our condition; not the solution for it. In his book, Malcolm talked plenty about how our leaders back then were “asking to be accepted into the existing system” instead of creating our own and how because of that, the civil rights movement could not (and did not) liberate black people from America’s oppression. He also talked about how many of the civil rights movements were infiltrated by the government and that blacks needed to learn to unify with each other before trying to integrate with others.
This is why he did not promote integration or allow white people to join his organizations. Not because he hated white people, but because he felt we needed our own system to function in the way white people have their own system to function in. Malcolm knew that white folks involvement in a black liberation movement would “slow down the Negroes’ discovery of what they need to do, and particularly of what they can do for themselves, working by themselves, among their own kind, in their own communities.” And Malcolm fought to bring his vision for black liberation to past until the day he died.
After his death, The Daily Times of Nigeria stated that “like all mortals, Malcolm X was not without his faults… but that he was a dedicated and consistent disciple of the movement for the emancipation of his brethren, no one can doubt… Malcolm X has fought and died for what he believed to be right. He will have a place in the palace of martyrs.” No truer words could have been said of the death of Malcolm. He was the greatest black leader that we black Americans have ever had.
I truly did not intend for this article to be this long, but once I got the typing I simply could not stop. Although I am NOT a Muslim, nor do I promote the religion of Islam; I think that every black youth and young adult should buy and read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Since the school systems and organized religions teach our people do not teach our young ones about true American black history; it’s our job to teach them or at least point them in the right direction to where they can learn it for themselves. And I think the life of Malcolm X is a great example of manhood, integrity and courage, and that his story should be taught to all of our people; both young and old.
The autobiography of Malcolm X will dispel all of the lies that we have been taught to about Malcolm and will give great teaching lessons to our youth that will help them not fall victim to the traps of this world. It will also give those of you who do not have much knowledge on our American black history outside of Dr. Martin Luther King, an inside look at what life was like for our people between the 30’s to the 60’s. So I highly encourage all of my people to get this book for both you and your household.
Here is a direct link to his book on Amazon. Peace & love.