Title – The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Author – Alex Haley
Genre – Non-Fiction
Why I Read This Book The Autobiography of Malcolm X:
In the three months I have been incarcerated at the Federal Prison camp in Oxford, WI, I have read 14 books and several short stories. I have chosen to stay within a limited genre of non-fiction because I only want to read books that will expand my way of thinking and broaden my vocabulary. There have been 3 books that I have already read that mentioned The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Michael Santos also mentions it in his Daily Journal Workbook! At that point, even though I knew very little about Malcolm X, I HAD to read his autobiography.
I actually do love reading autobiographies because you are reading the words of the author as they would use them. It is as if they are sitting across from you at dinner telling you their life story. Malcolm X provided me with a unique voice that I am definitely not familiar with so it was exciting to read about his life in this Country from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.
What I Learned from Reading Malcolm X Autobiography:
I will NEVER understand what it is like to be a black man in this country. I will CERTAINLY never understand what it was like to be a black man in this Country during the 1920’s – 1950’s when “Civil Rights” seemed like a novel idea on paper but FAR from ever seeming like a reality. As you read about Malcolm X’s upbringing, you can certainly begin to see why he had such a dislike for the “white man”.
It was when Malcolm X was sent to prison for 7 years that I really admired his discipline, work ethic, and drive. Malcolm X dropped out of school in the 7th grade and while in prison during his early 20’s, he became frustrated that his letters to family and later to politicians and other people of influence were not writing him back. He realized his two main handicaps:
1) His writing was barely legible.
2) His vocabulary consisted of slang and profanity.
HOW Malcolm X solved these 2 problems was so inspiring. First, he would hand write every page in the dictionary (improved his handwriting) and then study each word he wrote along with the definition (improved his vocabulary). The byproduct of improving his vocabulary led to reading more books which furthered his education while in prison which led to better speaking skills which eventually allowed Malcolm X to travel all over the world speaking at elite Colleges and Universities. At one such speaking engagement on a University campus, someone asked him “What’s you Alma Mater?”. Malcolm X simply replied “Books”.
Another huge take away was Malcolm X’s view on prison and I can only do it justice by quoting him directly–“A prisoner has the time he can put to good use. I’d put prison second to college as the best place to go if he needs to do some thinking. If he’s MOTIVATED, in prison he can change his life.” AGREED!!!
How reading this book will contribute to my success:
A lot has changed since Malcolm X lived and since he was assassinated. Malcom X’s complete 180 degree turn in his views on the relationships between races actually led to his assassination. One thing that has NOT changed for hundreds of years has been the power of change through reading books. Prior to coming to prison, I was a consistent reader but it was for entertainment purposes only. Since arriving to prison 3 months ago, I have used books to grow as a human and to use this time wisely. Malcolm X proves your life COULD be on a completely different trajectory IF you are MOTIVATED to do so.
Especially at a Federal Prison camp like this one in Oxford, WI, there is A LOT of downtime. Many guys choose to sleep and watch TV to pass the time. Just because I have a college degree and there is not any programs available to get a Master’s Degree, that doesn’t mean I can not further my education in terms of personal finance, leadership, history, etc. Like Malcolm X, I plan on leaving prison on a FORWARD trajectory and be an important contributor to society.
My name is Jeff and I was sentenced to 34 months in a Federal Prison Camp in Oxford, WI, after committing a white-collar crime several years ago. Before self-surrendering on June 6, 2022, I promised my wife and family that I WILL exit prison a better husband, son, brother, Christian, future employee, and overall better member of society because I am going to better myself in three ways:
1) Physically–Not just for vanity purposes but a better operating body equals a better operating mind.
2) Mentally–Reading books, stories, papers, and magazines that educate and elevate my mind and expand my vocabulary.
3) Spiritually–For ME, this means learning more from the Bible but it can also mean whatever “Greater Good” you believe in.
Shortly after self-surrendering and reading Michael Santos’s book “Earning Freedom–Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term”, it inspired me to want to help just 1 person who is possibly heading to prison so I started emailing my family Posts that my sister uses to post as a Blog on Reddit dot com called “Letters From Federal Prison”. I believe to date it has over 5,000 views and shares plus there are 2 comments from people advising that the Blog has helped them. This has motivated me to keep writing (which I have NEVER done anything like this before) and I REALLY want to help more people when I return to society next year.
Thanks for letting me do this and I hope this helps!! Let me know if any changes are needed.