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THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OFMALCOLM Xwith the assistance of Alex HaleyIntroduction by M. S. HandlerEpilogue by Alex HaleyBallantine Books New York

Sale of this book without a front cover may be unauthorized. If this book is coverless,it may have been reported to the publisher as "unsold or destroyed" and neither theauthor nor the publisher may have received payment for it.Copyright 1964 by Alex Haley and Malcolm XCopyright 1965 by Alex Haley and Betty ShabazzIntroduction copyright 1965 by M. S. HandlerAll rights reserved under International and Pan-American CopyrightConventions. Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, adivision of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneouslyin Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.T his edition published by arrangement with Grove Press, Inc."On Malcolm X" by Ossie Davis previously appeared in Group magazineand is reprinted by permission.Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 91-93124ISBN: 0-345-37671-4Cover design by Kristine V. MillsCover painting by Charles LillyManufactured in the United States of AmericaFirst Ballantine Books Edition: June 1973First Ballantine Books Trade Edition: February 1992

This book I dedicate to my beloved wife Bettyand to our children whose understanding and whose sacrificesmade it possible for me to do my work.

ightmareMascot" Homeboy"LauraHarlemiteDetroit RedHustlerTrappedCaughtSatanSavedSaviorMinister Malcolm XBlack MuslimsIcarusOutMeccaEl-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz1965Alex Haley : EpilogueOssie Davis : On Malcolm 419441524

M. S. HANDLERI NTRO D U CTI O NTheSunday before he was to officially announce his rupturewith Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X came to my home to dis cuss his plans and give me some necessary documentation .Mrs . Handler had never met Malcolm before this fateful visit.She served us coffee and cakes while Malcolm spoke in thecourteous, gentle manner that was his in private. It was obviousto me that Mrs . Handler was impressed by Malcolm. His per sonality fil led our living room .Malcolm 's attitude was that of a man who had reached acrossroads in his life and was making a choice under an innercompulsion . A wistful smile illuminated his countenance fromtime to time-a smile that said many things. I felt uneasy be cause Malcolm was evidently trying to say something which hispride and dignity prevented him from expressing. I sensed thatMalcolm was not confident he would succeed in escaping fromthe shadowy world which had held him in thrall.Mrs . Handler was quiet and thoughtful after Malcolm's de parture. Looking up suddenly, she said :" You know, it was like having tea with a black panther. "The description startled me. The black panther is an aristo crat in the animal kingdom. He is beautiful. He is dangerous.As a man, Malcolm X had the physical bearing and the innerself-confidence of a born aristocrat. And he was potentially dan gerous . No man in our time aroused fear and hatred in the whiteman as did Malcolm, because in him the white man sensed ani mplacable foe who could not be had for any price-a man un reservedly committed to the cause of liberating the black manix

XTHE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM Xin American society rather than integrating the black man intothat society.My first meeting with Malcolm X took place in March 1963in the Muslim restaurant of Temple Number Seven on LenoxAvenue. I had been assigned by The New York Times to inves tigate the growing pressures within the Negro community. Thirtyyears of experience as a reporter in Western and Eastern Europehad taught me that the forces in a developing social struggle arefrequently buried beneath the visible surface and make them selves felt in many ways long before they burst out into theopen. These generative forces make themselves felt through thepower of an idea long before their organizational forms canopenly challenge the establishment. It is the merit of Europeanpolitical scientists and sociologists to give a high priority to thepower of ideas in a social struggle. In the United States, it isour weakness to confuse the numerical strength of an organi zation and the publicity attached to leaders with the germinatingforces that sow the seeds of social upheaval in our community.In studying the growing pressures within the Negro com munity, I had not only to seek the opinions of the establishedleaders of the civil rights organizations but the opinions of thoseworking in the penumbra of the movement-"underground , "s o to speak. This i s why I sought out Malcolm X, whose ideashad reached me through the medium of Negro integrationists.Their thinking was already reflecting a high degree of nascentNegro nationalism .I did not know what to expect as I waited for Malcolm. I wasthe only white person in the restaurant, an immaculate estab l ishment tended by somber, handsome, uncommunicative Ne groes. Signs reading "Smoking Forbidden" were pasted on thehighly polished mirrors. I was served coffee but became uneasyin this aseptic, silent atmosphere as time passed. Malcolm fi nally arrived. He was very tal l , handsome, of impressive bear ing. His skin had a bronze hue.I rose to greet him and extended my hand . Malcolm 's handcame up slowly. I had the impression it was difficult for him to

INTRODUCTIONXitake my hand, but, noblesse oblige, he did. Malcolm then did acurious thing which he always repeated whenever we met inpublic in a restaurant in New York or Washington . He askedwhether I would mind if he took a seat facing the door. I hadhad similar requests put to me in Eastern European capitals.Malcolm was on the alert, he wished to see every person whoentered the restaurant. I quickly realized that Malcolm con stantly walked in danger.We spoke for more than three hours at this first encounter.His views about the white man were devastating, but at no timedid he transgress against my own personality and make me feelthat I, as an individual, shared in the guilt. He attributed thedegradation of the Negro people to the white man . He de nounced integration as a fraud. He contended that if the leadersof the established civil rights organizations persisted, the socialstruggle would end in bloodshed because he was certain thewhite man would never concede full integration. He arguedthe Muslim case for separation as the only solution in which theNegro could achieve his own identity, develop his own culture,and lay the foundations for a self-respecting productive com munity. He was vague about where the Negro state could beestablished.Malcolm refused to see the impossibility of the white manconceding secession from the United States; at this stage in hiscareer he contended it was the only solution. He defended Islamas a religion that did not recognize color bars . He denouncedChristianity as a religion designed for slaves and the Negroclergy as the curse of the black man, exploiting him for theirown purposes instead of seeking to liberate him , and acting ashandmaidens of the white community in its determination tokeep the Negroes in a subservient position.During this first encounter Malcolm also sought to enlightenme about the Negro mentality. He repeatedly cautioned me tobeware of Negro affirmations of good will toward the whiteman. He said that the Negro had been trained to dissemble andconceal his real thoughts, as a matter of survival . He argued

XiiTHE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM Xthat the Negro only tells the white man what he believes thewhite man wishes to hear, and that the art of dissemblingreached a point where even Negroes cannot truthfully say theyunderstand what their fellow Negroes believe. The art of decep tion practiced by the Negro was based on a thorough under standing of the white man's mores, he said; at the same timethe Negro has remained a closed book to the white man, whohas never displayed any interest in understanding the Negro.Malcolm's exposition of his social ideas was clear andthoughtful , if somewhat shocking to the white initiate, but mostdisconcerting in our talk was Malcolm's belief in Elijah Muham mad's history of the origins of man, and in a genetic theorydevised to prove the superiority of black over white-a theorystunning to me in its sheer absurdity.After this first encounter, I realized that there were two Mal colms-the private and the public person. His public perfor mances on television and at meeting halls produced an almostterrifying effect. His implacable marshaling of facts and his logichad something of a new dialectic, diabolic in its force. Hefrightened white television audiences, demolished his Negro op ponents, but elicited a remarkable response from Negro audi ences . Many Negro opponents in the end refused to make anypublic appearances on the same platform with him. The trou bled white audiences were confused, disturbed, felt themselvesthreatened. Some began to consider Malcolm evil incarnate.Malcolm appealed to the two most disparate elements in theNegro community-the depressed mass, and the galaxy of Ne gro writers and artists who have burst on the American scenein the past decade. The Negro middle class-the Negro "estab lishment' ' -abhorred and feared Malcolm as much as he de spised it.The impoverished Negroes respected Malcolm in the waythat wayward children respect the grandfather image. It wasalways a strange and moving experience to walk with Malcolmin Harlem. He was known to all . People glanced at him shyly.Sometimes Negro youngsters would ask for his autograph. It

INTRODUCTIONXiiialways seemed to me that their affection for Malcolm was in spired by the fact that although he had become a national figure,he was still a man of the people who, they felt, would neverbetray them. The Negroes have suffered too long from betrayalsand in Malcolm they sensed a man of mission. They knew hisorigins, with which they could identify. They knew his criminaland prison record, which he had never concealed. They lookedupon Malcolm with a certain wonderment. Here was a man,who had come from the lower depths which they still inhabited,who ┬Ěhad triumphed over his own criminality and his own ig norance to become a forceful leader and spokesman, an uncom promising champion of his people.Although many could not share his Muslim religious beliefs,they found in Malcolm's puritanism a standing reproach to theirown lives. Malcolm had purged himself of all the ills that afflictthe depressed Negro mass: drugs, alcohol, tobacco, not to speakof criminal pursuits . His personal life was impeccable-of apuritanism unattainable for the mass . Human redemption Malcolm had achieved it in his own lifetime, and this was knownto the Negro community.In his television appearances and at public meetings Malcolmarticulated the woes and the aspirations of the depressed Negromass in a way it was unable to do for itself. When he attackedthe white man, Malcolm did for the Negroes what they couldn'tdo for themselves-he attacked with a violence and anger thatspoke for the ages of misery. It was not an academic exerciseof just giving hell to "Mr. Charlie. "Many of the Negro writers and artists who are national fig ures today revered Malcolm for what they considered his ruthlesshonesty in stating the Negro case, his refusal to compromise,and his search for a group identity that had been destroyed bythe white man when he brought the Negroes in chains fromAfrica. The Negro writers and artists regarded Malcolm as thegreat catalyst, the man who inspired self-respect and devotionin the downtrodden millions .A group of these artists gathered one Sunday in my home,

XiYTHE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM Xand we talked about Malcolm. Their devotion to him as a manwas moving. One said : "Malcolm will never betray us. We havesuffered too much from betrayals in the past . "Malcolm's attitude toward the white man underwent a markedchange in 1964-a change that contributed to his break withElijah Muhammad and his racist doctrines. Malcolm's meteoriceruption on the national scene brought him into wider contactwith white men who were not the "devils" he had thought theywere. He was much in demand as a speaker at student forumsin Eastern universities and had appeared at many by the end ofhis short career as a national figure. He always spoke respect fully and with a certain surprise of the positive response ofwhite students to his lectures.A second factor that contributed to his conversion to widerhorizons was a growing doubt about the authenticity of ElijahMuhammad's version of the Muslim religion-a doubt that grewinto a certainty with more knowledge and more experience.Certain secular practices at the Chicago headquarters of ElijahMuhammad had come to Malcolm's notice and he was pro foundly shocked.Finally, he embarked on a number of prolonged trips toMecca and the newly independent African states through thegood offices of the representatives of the Arab League in theUnited States. It was on his first trip to Mecca that he came tothe conclusion that he had yet to discover Islam.Assassins' bullets ended Malcolm's career before he was ableto develop this new approach , which in essence recognized theNegroes as an integral part of the American community-a farcry from Elijah Muhammad's doctrine of separation. Malcolmhad reached the midpoint in redefining his attitude to this coun try and the white-black relationship. He no longer inveighedagainst the United States but against a segment of the UnitedStates represented by overt white supremacists in the South andcovert white supremacists in the North.It was Malcolm's intention to raise Negro militancy to a newhigh point with the main thrust aimed at both the Southern and

INTRODUCTIONXVNorthern white supremacists. The Negro problem, which he hadalways said should be renamed "the white man's problem , " wasbeginning to assume new dimensions for him in the last monthsof his life.To the very end, Malcolm sought