New Views on Malcolm X
From a 1941 letter to friend Zelma Holman in Michigan, written from Boston by 16-year-old Malcolm —
Sorry I haven’t gotten around to writing you sooner but I have been very busy. You know how we traveling men are. How is everything in Jackson. Boston’s fine. The place is really jumpin’ ….
Listen, will you send me a picture of you. I want to show the fella’s [sic] out here that we have some fine girls in Michigan too and I want pictures of only the finest, no jive.’
I’m leaving for Florida after Xmas and when I leave there I’m going to try and spend the rest of the summer in California. I’ve already been in 23 different states. I’ll be in Georgia for about a month. …
I’ll stop boring you with this bad writing and poor spelling now and close. I do hope you will answer sooner than I wrote.
From a letter to half-sister Ella Collins, written from prison in 1948, the year after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier —
… This being Easter, I thought it would be nice of me if I tried to write you a charming letter. However, I fear I’ve lost my touch. Charming and flattering people used to be easy for me to do but now I’m finding it extremely difficult. Maybe I’m growing old and more serious. Better still, maybe I am just to [sic] evil. I do get my kicks by writing you irritating letters. I must have inherited some sadistic traits from someone along the line somewhere. Whom? …
Maybe I’m just beginning to find myself in this crazy world …
Now that the baseball season has begun I have much to occupy my mind because I follow Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers so closely that, at times, I forget I’m in prison.
Now that Yvonne has graduated from high school, why don’t you invite her out for the summer? It certainly couldn’t do any harm. Or have I made you lose faith in your brothers and sisters. One certainly can’t compare the rest of them with me. I stand in a class alone — all by myself …
From a letter to a friend in 1950, written after his conversion and name change —
My Most Dearly Beloved Brother Raymond,
May the All-Wise Allah be with you as I write, and may He bestow upon you Eternal Life. …
The most beautiful thing in the world, and is a beauty that forever attracts, is that which is read in the depths of ones [sic] eyes — therein lies the essence of ones [sic] Soul — the Book of Allah — for it is this deep unfathomable work of Nature that forever leaves the onlooker mute with silent admiration. …
Long ago the Brothers of our Black Nation knew and practised [sic] the Art of this True Beauty and they were perfectionists. …
So your father is a Preacher? Mine was also; that’s why he is dead today — he didn’t preach according to “Hoyle.” He was a devout Garveyite, in fact Marcus Garvey lived with us much of the time. He was a Muslim, you know. My mother was very close to him, having come from the Islands too. There is much more that I know today concerning that affair that I didn’t know before because of my youth and my dead mind (my mother taught us Islam from birth, but we never realized it. They put her in an asylum in 1938. You can imagine why) In 1931 my father was “placed” under a street car — again, you can imagine why. We children were all too young to fully ever know what was going down — but Brother, these devils were even then stomping out Islam. …
… Give Lonny my “hello” — he knew me in Flint as “Detroit Red.” He was working for “Chappie” at his nite club, and I worked in his gambling house. I wasn’t on the scene there too long, but there was a nice story behind my leaving hurriedly — which he may have heard (smile).
Your Brother in Truth,
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