The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Alex Haley and Malcolm X

One of my most impactful reads in the past few years. Malcolm X as a figure has historically been extremely polarizing. But in recent years, he’s more or less been left out of the spotlight. He’s a bit between worlds. As a civil rights figure, he’s overshadowed by more populist voices such as MLK and as a religious figure, his views ultimately led to his demise. However, despite the lack of mention, I believe that Malcolm X was perhaps the most influential figure in recent history in terms of civil rights and racial equality.

Coming into the book, I had viewed Malcolm X as a one-dimensional militant figure that pushed the envelop and complimented the civil rights movement through being a channeled extremist. In other words, he helped make other civil rights leaders such as MLK a little easier to stomach for the white and more conservative portions of America. In fact, in his later years, he openly acknowledged this. However, reading over his biography, Malcolm X was someone who was more of a visionary, with views that crystalized future racial situations decades after being spoken/written.

Yet at the same time, he had his flaws. I found the hypocrisy of Malcolm X dripping through the pages. His view on women was “narrow” at yet and yet eagerly garnered support from the female population when it suited him. At times, it felt that Malcolm simply was optimizing for support. He knew that fundamentally, white and black America were at odds and thus spoke an highly divisive narrative to create support within black communities. Later, after leaving the Nation of Islam, he reshaped his views to attract support from both domestic and international audiences. Despite these flaws, Malcolm X’s view on civil rights and future American identity rings true for me today and will likely do so for decades to come.

Note - I’ve only posted books I’ve read in 2021 and beyond on here but I think I’ve only read a handful of books as impactful as Malcolm X was on me.


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