Tag Archives: MALCOLM X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley (audiobook)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz
(May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker occupied with the family’s eight children. His father, Earl Little, was an outspoken Baptist minister and avid supporter of black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Earl’s civil rights activism prompted death threats from the white supremacist organization Black Legion, forcing the family to relocate twice before Malcolm’s fourth birthday.

Malcolm’s siblings: (in order of birth) Ella, Earl and Mary (half-siblings from Earl’s previous marriage); Wilfred, Hilda, Philbert, Reginald and Yvonne.

Rev. Little was found dead in 1931 after being beaten and left on the train tracks, where he was run over by a streetcar. Malcolm was 6 at the time. No one was ever convicted of the crime but his death is widely attributed to the Black Legion. Malcolm’s mother spent the next 26 years in a Kalamazoo mental institution because of the uncertainty and paranoia around her husband’s murder, as well as the stress from her failure to provide for her 6 children at the height of the Great Depression.

Malcolm X was with the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and ’60s, where he worked under NOI leader, Elijah Muhammad expanding the group’s membership among black Americans nationwide. Due largely to his efforts, the NOI grew from 400 members at the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960.

Malcolm X became the minister of Temple No. 7 in Harlem and Temple No. 11 in Boston, while also founding temples in Hartford and Philadelphia. In 1960, he established the national newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, in order to further promote the message of the NOI.

In 1963, Malcolm X became disillusioned when he learned that Muhammad had violated his own teachings by carrying on many extramarital affairs. Malcolm’s feelings of betrayal, combined with Muhammad’s anger over Malcolm’s comments regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, led Malcolm leaving the NOI in 1964.

That same year, Malcolm X went on a trip through North Africa and the Middle East. The trip was a turning point in his life. He learned to place the American Civil Rights Movement within the context of a global anti-colonial struggle, embracing socialism and Pan-Africanism. Malcolm X also made the Hajj, the traditional Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during which he converted to traditional Islam and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Malcolm X announced the establishment of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) at a the Audubon Ballroom on June 28, 1964. He had written the group’s charter with John Henrik Clarke, Albert Cleage, Jesse Gray, and Gloria Richardson, among others.

Malcolm X, along with Clarke, wrote the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) Basic Unity Program:

  • Restoration: “In order to release ourselves from the oppression of our enslavers then, it is absolutely necessary for the Afro-American to restore communication with Africa.”
  • Reorientation: “We can learn much about Africa by reading informative books.”
  • Education: “The Organization of Afro-American Unity will devise original educational methods and procedures which will liberate the minds of our children. We will … encourage qualified Afro-Americans to write and publish the textbooks needed to liberate our minds … educating them [our children] at home.”
  • Economic Security: “After the Emancipation Proclamation … it was realized that the Afro-American constituted the largest homogeneous ethnic group with a common origin and common group experience in the United States and, if allowed to exercise economic or political freedom, would in a short period of time own this country. We must establish a technician bank. We must do this so that the newly independent nations of Africa can turn to us who are their brothers for the technicians they will need now and in the future.”
Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

Taken February 21, 1965, the day Malcolm X was assassinated.

At a speaking engagement in the Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965 three gunmen rushed Malcolm onstage. They shot him 15 times at close range. The 39-year-old was pronounced dead on arrival at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Fifteen hundred people attended Malcolm’s funeral in Harlem on February 27, 1965 at the Faith Temple Church of God in Christ (now Child’s Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ). After the ceremony, friends took the shovels away from the waiting gravediggers and buried Malcolm themselves.

Later that year, Betty gave birth to their twin daughters Malikah & Malaak.

Malcolm’s murderers, Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler (Muhammad Abdul Aziz) and Thomas 15X Johnson (Khalil Islam) were convicted of first-degree murder in March 1966. The three men were all members of the Nation of Islam.  Aziz was paroled in 1985; Islam was freed in 1987. Hayer (the only murderer that confessed), now known as Thomas Hagan, was freed in 2010. 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

“The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley.  Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black pride, black nationalism and Pan-Africanism. After the death of his subject Haley authored the book’s epilogue, which describes their collaboration and summarizes the end of Malcolm X’s life.

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book’s publication regarded Haley as the book’s ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to allow readers to feel as though Malcolm X were speaking directly to them. Haley also influenced some of Malcolm X’s literary choices; for example, when Malcolm X left the Nation Of Islam during the composition of the book, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of “suspense and drama” rather than rewriting earlier chapters into a polemic against the Nation. Furthermore, Haley’s proactive censorship of the manuscript’s antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography, increasing its commercial success and popularity although distorting Malcolm X’s public persona.”
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Malcolm X | The House Negro vs. The Field Negro

SPEECH TO SNCC WORKERS, SELMA, ALABAMA

FEB.4,1965

To understand this, you have to go back to what [the] young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro — back during slavery. There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes – they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good ’cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master’s house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, “We got a good house here,” the house Negro would say, “Yeah, we got a good house here.” Whenever the master said “we,” he said “we.” That’s how you can tell a house Negro.

If the master’s house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, “What’s the matter, boss, we sick?” We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, “Let’s run away, let’s escape, let’s separate,” the house Negro would look at you and say, “Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?” That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a “house nigger.” And that’s what we call him today, because we’ve still got some house niggers running around here.

Malcolm speaks

This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He’ll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about “I’m the only Negro out here.” “I’m the only one on my job.” “I’m the only one in this school.” You’re nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, “Let’s separate,” you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. “What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?” I mean, this is what you say. “I ain’t left nothing in Africa,” that’s what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.

On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negro — those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there was Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn’t get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call ‘em “chitt’lin’” nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That’s what you were — a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters. Continue reading

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I Was Afraid of Malcolm

From the album Don’t Call Me Buckwheat (1992)
Music & Lyrics by Garland Jeffreys

I was afraid of Malcolm
Just like any white man
Between the powder of the talcum
And the color of a black man
Fee fie fo fum
I was afraid of Malcolm
And the afro picks in the sand
Just like any white man

Now I see I was dumb
I bought the whole big shebang
White man afraid of Malcolm
Hit=2 0me like a boomerang
From the fire to the frying pan
I did the ostrich too
Cassius was the better man
But I took the white man’s cue

I was afraid of Malcolm
Just like any white man
Between the powder of the talcum
And the color of the man tan
Fee fie fo fum
I was afraid of Malcolm
And the afro picks in the sand
Just like any white man

Things got better each day
I landed on my own backbone
And when I think of all the hearsay
I’m standin’ in my own skin tone
Pictured as a man of distortion
Painted as a monster in monster proportion
Changing up with every bit of information
Painting like a master in God’s creation
Where each and every one and every body is equal
Where you don’t have to wait until
You see the sequel

I was afraid of Malcolm
Just like any white man
Between the powder of the talcum
And the color of a black man
Fee fie fo fum
I was afraid of Malcolm
And the afro picks in the sand
Just like any white man

Garland Jeffreys

Garland Jeffreys

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MALCOLM X: I Have No Fear Whatsoever of Anybody or Anything

Malcolm X explains why he was forced out of the Nation of Islam and that he has a rifle for protection.

After he left the Nation and made the pilgrimage to Mecca, he wrote in a letter:

“Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

“I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Ka’ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.”

“There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.”

el-malik-shabazz“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white – but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.”

“You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.”

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