The Autobiography of Malcolm X: A Candid Look at the Life of an Influential Black Leader

1. Introduction

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a book that was published in 1965. It was co-authored by Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. The book is a riveting account of Malcolm X’s life, from his humble beginnings to his rise as a prominent black leader during the civil rights movement.

2. About the book

The book starts with a brief introduction by Haley, in which he talks about how he came to meet Malcolm X and why he decided to help him write his autobiography. He then proceeds to give a detailed account of Malcolm X’s life, starting from his early childhood.

Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His father, Earl Little, was a Baptist minister who was very active in the black nationalist movement. His mother, Louise Norton Little, was a homemaker. Malcolm had six siblings, four brothers and two sisters.

Malcolm’s early years were marked by tragedy. When he was six years old, his house was burned down by white supremacists. Shortly thereafter, his father was killed by the Ku Klux Klan. These events had a profound effect on Malcolm and shaped his views on race and politics for the rest of his life.

After his father’s death, Malcolm and his siblings were sent to live with different relatives. Malcolm ended up living with his maternal grandparents in Lansing, Michigan. He later dropped out of high school and moved to New York City, where he became involved in criminal activity. In 1946, he was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison for burglary.

It was during his time in prison that Malcolm began to educate himself on world history and political issues. He also started to practice the Nation of Islam’s teachings and converted to Islam. Upon his release from prison in 1952, he changed his last name from “Little” to “X” to symbolize his rejection of his “slave name.”

3. Malcolm X’s life

After leaving prison, Malcolm X quickly rose through the ranks of the Nation of Islam. He became one of the organization’s most outspoken and effective leaders. He spoke out against racism and white supremacy, and called for black self-defense and self-sufficiency. His views often put him at odds with the more mainstream civil rights movement, which advocated for peaceful protests and integration with whites.

In 1963, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam after disagreements with its leader, Elijah Muhammad. He then founded the Muslim Mosque Inc., an organization that advocated for black nationalism. The following year, he made a pilgrimage to Mecca, which helped him expand his views on race and religion. After returning from Mecca, he founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which advocated for racial equality for all people regardless of color.

On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was assassinated by three men associated with the Nation of Islam while giving a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. He was 39 years old at the time of his death.

4. Malcolm X’s autobiography

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is an important work not only because it tells the story of an influential black leader during the civil rights movement, but also because it provides insight into the mind of a man who was shaped by a lifetime of racism and violence.

The book is written in a candid, first-person style that allows readers to feel as if they are hearing Malcolm X’s story directly from him. He does not shy away from discussing the details of his criminal past or his time as a leader of the Nation of Islam. Instead, he uses these experiences to illustrate the injustices that black Americans faced during this time period.

Malcolm X’s story is one of transformation and redemption. He starts out as a lost and angry young man, but through his journey he finds Islam and comes to see the value in racial unity. The powerful writing style of the book helps the reader understand the importance of the transcendence of class differences and battles over racial dominance for Malcolm X.

5. Conclusion

Malcolm X was a complex and controversial figure during the civil rights movement. His autobiography provides readers with an intimate look at his life, his thoughts, and his motivations. It is an important work that sheds light on the mind of one of America’s most influential black leaders.


Malcolm X was motivated to tell his story in order to inspire other black Americans to fight for their rights. He wanted to show that it was possible to overcome a difficult upbringing and achieve success.

The collaboration between Malcolm X and Alex Haley came about because Haley was interested in writing a book about the black experience in America. Malcolm X agreed to be interviewed by Haley, and the resulting autobiography was published in 1965.

The main themes of the autobiography are race, identity, and self-improvement. Malcolm X discusses his experiences as a black man in America and how he eventually became a leader of the Nation of Islam. He also talks about his journey towards self-awareness and personal growth.

Malcolm X's account differs from other accounts of his life and experiences because it is told from his own perspective. In the autobiography, he is candid about his struggles and challenges, which gives readers a more intimate look at who he was as a person.

The autobiography is significant in terms of American history and race relations because it provides insight into the mind of one of the most influential figures of the Civil Rights Movement. It also offers a unique perspective on what it was like to be black in America during this time period.

Some lessons that can be learned from reading the autobiography today include understanding the importance of fighting for one's beliefs, being open-minded towards others, and continuing to learn and grow throughout life