The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Reexamined

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Behind The Autobiography of Malcolm X, there is a discussion over whether or not the book is an authentic depiction “of a martyred black icon or a sly act of ventriloquism by his more moderate collaborator,” that is Alex Haley.

This essay examines Malcolm X through Alex Haley’s words and Manning Marable’s new biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, taking into consideration the white audience that informed the narrative of the story.

“This, finally, is what is so potent in the story of Malcolm X for white readers: he grants us our moral agency. He is not asking for our pity. He is not asking for our money. He is asking us, in the plainest way possible, to exercise moral courage in our own lives just as he has done in his.”


Sam Riley is an adult who works at McSweeney's. More from this author →