A new introduction to Malcolm X’s autobiography reveals the civil rights leader’s hopes that his life could help black and white people.
The unpublished introduction, was read publicly for the first time last week by a Detroit lawyer who bought it from the estate of the autobiography’s collaborator, Alex Haley.
“I’m writing this book for the best interests of the Negro and the white man in America,” begins the introduction.
“Most sincerely I want my life story to do as much good for America and for both races as it possibly can. … I give my life to be used to benefit America and humanity, that America will learn that the Negro’s problem is a challenge to America’s consciousness and that the Negro is America’s problem.”
The existence of the introduction, and three other unpublished chapters has been known since entertainment lawyer Gregory J. Reed bought them at a 1992 auction of Haley’s estate. Some pages have been exhibited in a Detroit museum.
Reed read the introduction publicly for the first time last week to an audience of hundreds at the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. The organization was founded by the civil rights leader’s late widow and housed in the building where he was killed.
The introduction echoes the themes of the book tracing Malcolm X’s evolution from a child who lost his parents to violence, to a teenager lured into crime, eventual prison conviction and introduction to the Nation of Islam.
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