The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Hayley and Malcolm X
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.
– Malcolm X, Letter from Mecca
I don’t often read nonfiction books, and if I do I find myself reading a biography or autobiography of a person, which can be at times embellished. I decided to try this out (having bought it back in 2009 and never read it) because I am interested in the Civil Rights movement in general.
The amount of fascinating detail extracted from Malcolm X by Alex Hayley covers Malcolm’s entire life up until his assassination. It includes a lot of information about his criminal years in Boston and New York as Detroit Red, the beliefs of the Nation of Islam and their operations after he joined them out of prison as Malcolm X, his eventual mutual break from the NOI, and finally his hajj to Mecca as Malik el-Shabazz.
This is a great book for anyone to read, because I feel like there is a lot of misinformation about Malcolm X and what he stood for, including the nature of his hatred for the white man and the reasons behind his split from the NOI. It contains a lot of lessons on race relations and religious extremism, as well as a quite in-depth examination of Islam and how it was picked up as a major religion by African Americans along with Christianity. My favourite part of the book Malcolm X’s hajj to Mecca, and the fundamental change it wrought on his core being, and the demonstrations of the Muslim brotherhood that he encountered. I am not a muslim, and I will never complete the hajj, so having such an in-depth account of the pilgrimage helped he understand the religion better.
After this, I’d like to read The Autobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr. to see how it compares, and to fill in the details of his life that I am unaware of. (I did an extensive assignment on him and the civil rights movement in high school)