One of the most influential men of his time, not only with the black community, but also with other people of every community. His beliefs for many people are hard to understand and probably thought as if his beliefs are wrong, but until someone actually reads The Autobiography of Malcolm X, then people will not really understand the complexity of the man Malcolm X. His autobiography takes you on a tour of probably lots of black men of this time and shows all the hardships and struggles that they had to go through. Showing the misleading teachings of the honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, and how Malcolm learns the real truth of his religion.
All should study the journey of Malcolm X’s life because it gives great insight into one of America’s great leaders. The struggles he had as young black boy and the influences he got there. To his teenage years where he developed most of his street smarts and learned how people really worked. Also his autobiography shows how for some people prison can teach and really help people to rehabilitate their lives. Then how Malcolm finds a way out in his new found faith in Allah. The autobiography also shows how Malcolm sees the true light of the Muslim religion with his pilgrimage to Mecca.
At first Malcolm grows up as a typical black child, but soon his life changes with some of the most terrible things that can happen to a young boy. I think one of the most influential things that happened to Malcolm is when his father is killed. Not only is this very terrible to a any young boy, but it is the way that his father is killed and by whom is killed that makes the most influence. Malcolm’s father was a Baptist minister and an organizer for the Marcus Aurelius Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. When Malcolm used to go with his father to the meetings that his father threw for the people, I think that Malcolm took a lot of what his father did to what he did and how he influenced later in his own life. An example of this is in The Autobiography of Malcolm X where Malcolm says “but still the image of him that made me proudest was his crusading and militant campaigning with words of Marcus Garvey.” (9). Malcolm’s father leaving him was very influential because he never had that guidance that a father gives his children, but more importantly that his father was killed by the white Black Legion. The Black Legion was a hateful group much like the Ku Klux Klan, but they wore black robes instead of white robes.
The killing of his father by the Black Legion stood in Malcolm’s head as he gets older and affects the way he thinks of white people. The fact that the insurance company would not give his mother the money that she deserved because they found his father on the streetcar tracks. So he obviously bashed himself in the head and stumbled over to the tracks to commit suicide. This was just another reason in Malcolm’s head why the white people are the devil. The way that his father was laid half dead on the streetcar tracks by white people who just let him suffer half dead. The event of his father’s death just put more and more aggression towards white people in Malcolm’s life.
One of the most important events that shaped Malcolm’s life was when Mr. Ostrowski, his eight-grade teacher, told him he should be realistic in life. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X his teacher says, “Malcolm, one of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic. Don’t misunderstand me, now. We all here like you, you know that. But you’ve got to be realistic about being a nig*er. A lawyer-that’s no realistic goal for a nig*er. You need to think about something you can be.” (43). The things that his teacher told him crushed his dreams, and made him feel worthless. His teacher if not the most is one of the most influential people because of that statement, that’s the statement that pushed him away from school. That eventually pushed Malcolm towards street life, which eventually shaped his aspect of life the most.
Shorty, I think had one of the strongest influences on Malcolm’s life. Shorty basically showed Malcolm how to live the street life. He also got Malcolm his first job, and showed him how to make extra money by hustling people at the ballroom. Shorty also introduced Malcolm to lots of new people, took him to parties, and even showed Malcolm how to dress. Shorty also gave Malcolm his first conk, which Malcolm eventually seen as a black man trying to look white. Shorty I think was one of the few people that Malcolm trusted because and felt that was really his friend because when Malcolm returned to Boston, Shorty was the first person that he looked up.
Harlem, New York was where Malcolm got his hustling almost down to perfection. This is where he seen even more how all the white people wanted to be where all the blacks were. Malcolm was well respected in Harlem and he always tried to get as much street knowledge as possible. He would talk to the prostitutes who would tell them way men went and how women wanted to be treated. He also refined his hustling game to almost perfection. This is also the place where Malcolm met Sammy the pimp. This is another big influence on his life; he also took Malcolm under his wing much like Shorty did in Boston. When Malcolm got into a dispute with West Indian Archie, is what basically pushed Malcolm out of Harlem. This was a big event because soon after Malcolm got into probably his most illegal activity with Shorty and Sophia. That activity soon got Malcolm in prison, and that is where he turned his life in another direction.
In prison Malcolm had a very cold filling about God, which gave him the nickname Satan. In prison he met one person who would turn him onto something that would let him be free, books. Bimbi was one of the prison inmates who was always at the library reading books and turned Malcolm on to books also. Books for Malcolm was the first step in him being able to get free from some of that hatred that he had deep within himself and actually be free. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm says “and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.” (199).
Just copying the dictionary over and over again fascinated Malcolm and turned him on to bigger books and bigger things. Eventually all the reading he had gave him great knowledge in the fields of history, philosophy, and other subjects that would help him later in his life to preach and influence.
The most important influence in Malcolm’s life, by far was being introduced to the Muslim faith by his family. The religion went so well with Malcolm because of his experiences with the white race. The letters from Elijah Muhammad just caught Malcolm by his soul and just pulled him in the religion, being one of it’s most important followers. What ever Elijah Muhammad said Malcolm did, he did not even question Elijah’s removal of Reginald from the National of Islam. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X writes that “I was his most faithful servant, and I know today that I did believe in him more than he believed in himself.” (242).
The way that the Nation of Islam turned its back on Malcolm X was one of the greatest things that could of happened to Malcolm. At first it started with some of the Muslim followers getting jealously because Malcolm basically was the public figure that everyone in the world saw. Not only would the people of the Nation of Islam turn their backs, but also Elijah Muhammad would too. Malcolm could not believe it, but eventually when he makes his pilgrimage to Mecca he sees the light. Elijah Muhammad behind Malcolm’s back spread the word that Malcolm could not be trusted and how he should be not part of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm knew that he was being set up from the highest authority of the Nation of Islam.
Muslim Mosque, Inc. was Malcolm’s own organization that was going to fight the black man’s civil rights. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X writes ” it would carry into practice what the Nation of Islam had only preached.” (363). Before Malcolm could really start this organization he made his most influential trips of his life to the holy land of Mecca. On this trip Malcolm seen the true hospitality of the Muslim faith and finally seen that people in Mecca treated everyone as brothers and they seen no color.
Dr. Omar Azzan and his father made the greatest impacts on Malcolm’s new look at life when he made his pilgrimage. He finally understood that the white men that he had experienced in America were only a few of the white race. He knew that the white man is not the devil and that only some white men treat black men with no respect and dignity. This pilgrimage really turned his life around the right way. Malcolm later visited other countries including Africa and soon begins preaching his new message about black and white relations.
I think that The Autobiography of Malcolm X gives a lot of insight to how a black man can easily go in the wrong direction. Malcolm’s early life shows how some little comments from people can impact someone so heavily. If Malcolm’s eight-grade teacher would not of told Malcolm that he could not be a lawyer. Would Malcolm eventually became a lawyer, would he of ever made such an impact on the civil rights movement like he did? Or would he have still turned away from the street life and still became a hustler. The influences that I mentioned all through Malcolm’s life made heavy impacts, but for me I think that the one that made the most was Elijah Muhammad, even though he eventually set him up. I think without Elijah Muhammad Malcolm would of probably turned his life away from crime, but probably would of still not of made an impact as he did. I think that we can learn a lot from his life, from not always letting some comments affect your life so much to always keep your guard up. I think that this should be read in every high school class because I think people need to know the truth about him. In my own life I have heard many bad things about Malcolm X, that I believed, but until now I know the truth about the man. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X writes “He will make use of me dead, as he has made use of me alive, as a convenient symbol of “hatred”" (439).