The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley, is nothing short of an amazing memoir. We read Malcolm Little’s firsthand account of being a black youth, facing a world of extreme racism and prejudice against people of color. He soon enters a world of drugs, prostitution, violence, and crime in the 1940s and ’50s. After he’s finally sent to jail for his transgressions, Malcolm undergoes an intense, 180 degree transformation, and ultimately leaves prison and his criminal path behind in pursuit of education, religion, and family. Through the Nation of Islam and its head, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm became a fervent activist for black supremacy (as opposed to integration and the Civil Rights Movement as preached by MLK, Jr.), as well as a devout Muslim minister and family man.
Reading this book will open your eyes to this controversial and intriguing man. His conversion to Islam was especially fascinating, and I admire that Malcolm so candidly admits his flaws and when he was wrong. Most people remember Malcolm X for his “reverse racism.” But what most people don’t know (or seem to forget) is that Malcolm eventually changed his beliefs again and abandoned the Nation of Islam, becoming a Sunni Muslim and renouncing racism against whites, as well as opening himself to the Civil Rights Movement, before he died.
This is not a light read. It took me several months to get through, as I felt it was best read carefully. Malcolm X truly shared an incredible story of personal transformation and important American history. I strongly recommend his gripping autobiography to everyone.