By Benjamin Berfield
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by Malcolm X and Alex Haley, is a timeless and compelling story. A renowned book on the Black American experience, Malcolm X is able to articulate the struggle of African Americans for centuries. Throughout his difficult life, Malcolm X changes as a person, constantly transforming his perspective on an essential question: What is right? His story, which encapsulates the stories of many others– captures how race has been, and still is, an issue in our country.
Malcolm X had a rough childhood, as his father was killed, which traumatized his mother as a result. He found light as a clerk in Boston, where he spent the early part of his adult life, as well as in New York City, where he developed dangerous habits such as drug dealing and gambling. Eventually he was arrested. While in prison, he began to adopt the religion Islam thanks to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. After his release from prison, Malcolm X became a member of the Nation of Islam where he focused on revolting against whites. Malcolm X, however, came to believe that Muhammad wasn’t as good a person as he thought, which prompted him to leave the organization. Through this departure, Malcolm X hoped he would have more power to express himself. He became a minister of the religion and after making the pilgrimage to Mecca, he focused on achieving equality toward integrating with others.
Based on the fact that Malcolm X was one of the most prominent civil rights activists, he gives a very interesting perspective on social issues. The most fascinating thing for me was how Malcom X changed over the years to become a better person. When he was first released from prison, Malcolm X had an aggressive approach to solving injustice, which was different from that of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who adopted a pacifist method. He later developed the strategy of working with others rather than fighting back. Sometimes to emerge as an important figure, people may need to change their perspective on certain aspects of life.
This book has had a resurgence in popularity because of today’s racial unrest. Currently there is an ongoing wave of civil protest against systemic racism towards Black people in the United States, mainly targeting police violence. For people to increase their understanding about today’s issues, they can read this book to educate themselves. Today, it still symbolizes the long-standing fight toward racial equality. Malcom X’s journey as a prominent civil rights activist expresses a crucial truth about the times of the past and the times of today–a truth that must be uncovered, revisited, and resolved.