Updated: Feb 21
After having this book collecting dust on my “to read” list for the longest, and after reading almost every “books you must read” list on the internet that had this very book at the tops of all of their ranks, I felt compelled to check it out and to know everything about this man and that I was doing myself an injustice by not doing so. Enough was enough. Once I had the time to invest, I decided to hunker down and get ta’ readin’.So read I did. Every minute that I had free I became entangled in his life’s story. I had to see what was the next story to be told, what was the next obstacle to be placed in front of Mr. Malcolm, and why was this man heralded as such an important figure in black history…in American history. I became obsessed.
Honestly, I knew very little of of Malcolm X going into this read, other than what I can only assume most knew of him-his fight for the black community and how outspoken he was. Oddly enough, I’ve always admired him, kind of in the way when you don’t really know someone but you feel like if you did, you’d have a friend. Look, I don’t really know how to explain it best but there’s always been an affinity there. With all of this being said, I went into reading this knowing that I’d enjoy it…
So here I was, hooked from just reading the first few chapters that went into details of his mother’s struggles with the children and mental health and his family’s ongoing attacks at the hands of the KKK. After hearing about his upbringing and then hearing about his disdain of the opposite race, I could see how it all made sense, for him at least. But Malcolm was much more than that and it would prove to be true in his later years. He was an anomaly in the 60s. He spoke his mind on what thought of the “White man” the “Black man” the “Brown man” and every other man and woman based of the harsh realities and injustices that he witnessed in his community, no matter how harsh it had been, and he was admired thtroughout all races for this. He would become a beacon of hope for all. His fight was to benefit everyone.
Malcom’s life truly was a movie in every sense of the word. His life was centered around drugs, prostitution, and robing, in the early days. Like one could assume, he landed himself in prison as a result. Some say that prison can save lives just as they can end others. In this case, I believe his was saved. He went in as “Satan” and left under the guidance of the Nation of Islam. Sure, we all know how his life tragically ended, but even though it was bound to be detailed in the book, and I knew this book was coming closer and closer to it’s end, I still got emotional when it played out because I had got to know Malcolm X throughout those 19 chapters. I learned about everyone in his life and what he thought of them, and how each relationship shaped shaped him. I learned how he bagan to have mixed feelings for his mentor Elijah Muhammad, yet never wanted to have those feelings known publicly. I also learned that he wished that he had been there more for his family, especially his daughters, after realizing he had missed so much of the small things that were taking place in their life and that he has yet to even buy them a gift. From a child and then on I felt connected to him as if I was there, and to have it end how it did, I felt as if I lost a loved one, in a sense.
Alex Haley, who sat down and interviewed with Malcolm X over a couple of years to help create this autobiography, did a phenomenal job bringing this project to life and his section at the end, which was from his perspective, added a great deal of depth for the reader. It’s nice to hear the life and times of Malcolm, but to hear how it translated to a book was just magic. Their relationship truly became nothing short of a genuine friendship all because of Alex’s “task” to simply interview Malcom.
Malcom was a great man. He was a black man, and he wasn’t ashamed to be so in an era where blacks were called everything else other that their own names, mistreated, and groomed to be less than rather than becoming someone great, and it all became normalized. Do yourself a favor and read this one. You won’t regret it. I didn’t.
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