Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2014, Volume 35

Alex Haley's Handwritten Notes from The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Alex HaleyEdited by Amy E. Earhart et al.
Note: Below are transcriptions and images of handwritten notes that Alex Haley compiled during his work on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. During the year and a half that Haley conducted interviews to gain information for the book, he would jot down notes on scrap paper, collect the scribbles, transcribe them into typed and written notes, and eventually piece together the notes to write The Autobiography. From the contents, it seems that Haley wrote this set of notecards during interviews conducted the last six to twelve months of Malcolm X's life. There is no indication that scholars are aware of this small holding of notecards, which might prove to be important clues to the production of The Autobiography. The notecards are also representations of the complicated relationship between Haley and X, an often-debated issue in scholarly circles. The notecards from which these materials are transcribed are housed in the Alex Haley Papers held by Cushing Library, Special Collections, at Texas A&M University.
[Note #31]

Sister Betty [1] has told me since they had three domestic flare-ups. Once she hung up on him, in 24 hours he was home. "I never did that again."

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[Note #32]

Shakespeare "to be, not to be" mss.[2] p. 43

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[Note #33]

"little rounds"[3] mss. p. 48-49 (more preachy) on soapbox

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[Note #34]

double-entry notebooks mss. p. 52

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[Note #35]

"You heard any thing?" [4] mss. p. 53

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[Note #36]

"saw - too much think he ever nurtured blanket white hatred" mss. p. 42

43 - white girl[5]

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[Note #37]

passport # C 294275 [6]

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[Note #38]

MX[7] [illeg.] Negroes mss. p. 48

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[Note #39]

re ex cons - [illeg.] "rhumba" [8]mss. p. 20

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[Note #40]

Couple named son after him. mss. p. 22[9]

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[Note #41]

"hell!" Dr. King[10] mss. p. 26

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[Note #42]

public m seeing Malcolm p. 33 - mss.

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[Note #43]

On train to Philadelphia [11] mss. p. 36

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[Note #44]

"Collective white man"[12] mss. p. 40

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[Note #64]

driving in car with him - I was scared - we talked of death.

"My father lived with death. All his brothers -"[13]

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[Note #73]

into large hotels mss. p.92

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[Note #74]

faces of white couple when MX[14] opened door mss. p. 93

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[Note #75]

NY State Police

FBI[15]

Burke Marshall[16]

Pinko [17] (mss. p. 94)

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[Note #76]

NY Times Poll Goldwater[18] - very pleased

New NY Times report King 73% irritated.[19] (mss. p. 96)

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[Note #77]

mid-summer 1964 MX [20] to Cairo - Africa.[21] mss. p. 97

I sent him clippings [22]- mss p. 100 he appreciated

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[Note #78]

SEP[23] editorial[24] mss. p. 100

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[Note #79]

avoiding problems re OAAU's[25] size mss. p. 106

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[Note #80]

photographed with carbine.[26] Had instructed wife to use, he said. mss. p. 109

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[Note #81]

reluctant sign contract.[27] mss. p. 110

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[Note #82]

dolls.[28] mss. p 111 dinner for Sister Betty[29] 111-12

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[Note #83]

George - Senator. mss. p. 112

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[Note #84]

last time saw him[30] mss p. 113

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[Note #85]

Hustler: "Biggest hustler in the world - " MX - anger re hustlers[31] - then - more formal, graphoanalysis[32]

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[Note #86]

taxicab incident

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[Note #87]

tirades against Negro leaders attacking Muhammed or himself.[33]

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[Note #88]

re Clay [34] mss. p. 58 follow through 68

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[Note #89]

discussing death[35] mss. p. 62 63

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[Note #90]

graphoanalysis[36] mss p. 69 - 70 - 71 "I could also have lived in a mansion"

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[Note #91]

MX[37] had wide range of contacts mss. p. 44 p. 71

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[Note #92]

after Mecca new beard[38] mss. p. 76

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[Note #93]

sidestepping new direction - "tell them which direction - " mss. p. 77

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[Note #94]

sorrow re Laura [39] mss. p. 81

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[Note #95]

busy day in hotel room - mss. p. 83

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[Note #96]

My analysis - cribbed from Ag [40] - mss. p. 87

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[Note #97]

his new direction OAAU[41] ... quotes mss. p. 90 .... 91

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[Note #98]

"I am caught in a public ambivalence, brother - "There are people who revere me, very mention of my name."

"I've unleashed this tiger, now the thing is can I ride him?"

"finances never discussed around me" mss p. 72

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Notes

1. Sister Betty is Malcolm X's wife, Betty Shabazz (1934-1997).Go
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2. A quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet, scene 3, act 1.Go
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3. Haley writes of X making "my little daily rounds" in Harlem to focus on "the black man down in the gutter where I came from" (The Autobiography, 402).Go
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4. This quote appears in The Autobiography, (404). Haley attributes this question to X's fear of retribution after his break with the Nation of Islam. Go
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5. This note may refer to the white college student whom Malcolm X mentions several times in his Autobiography. After speaking at her college, the student follows X to New York and confronts him. She asks, "What can I do?," to which he answers, "Nothing" (286). X later states that he regrets his response (376). The coed who is referenced in "The Malcolm X I Knew" may be this same woman, whom Haley portrays as delivering a verbal "put down" to X (21). Go
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6. During an interview with X, Haley attempts to read his passport. Noting his curiosity, X "thrust the passport toward me... Get the number straight, but it won't be anything the white devil doesn't already know. He issued me the passport'" (The Autobiography, 388). Go
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7. "MX" is shorthand for Malcolm X.Go
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8. "Ex cons" are ex-convicts. The rhumba is a ballroom dance that has African and Spanish origins.Go
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9. Malcolm X seemed surprised that a Harlem couple, who were not in the Nation of Islam, named their child after him (The Autobiography, 393).Go
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10. Haley writes that the only time he heard X curse was in response to a comment made by Martin Luther King who stated that Malcolm X's talk brought "misery upon Negroes" (The Autobiography, 394).Go
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11. Haley references the train ride he took to Philadelphia with Malcolm X in both The Autobiography (397) and "The Malcolm X I Knew" (12-13).Go
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12. X often specifies the collective white man to emphasize that behaviors of such a group are broad and representative.Go
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13. X notes that "All of my father’s brothers but one died violently" in "The Malcolm X I Knew" (26). Go
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14. "MX" is Malcolm X.Go
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15. Malcolm X was under intense FBI scrutiny during his life. Some FBI government documents are available at "The Life of Malcolm X."Go
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16. Burke Marshall (1922-2003) was a lawyer, head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, and author of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He was, according to Haley, investigating how X paid for his travel to the Middle East (The Autobiography, 418).Go
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17. "Pinko" is a derogatory term for communist sympathizer. Go
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18. Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) was the Republican Party candidate for president in 1964. He lost, by a landslide, to Lyndon B. Johnson. X supported his candidcacy, writing an essay titled "Why I Am for Goldwater."Go
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19. Haley reports that X was irritated that a New York Times poll of New York blacks revealed that 75 percent had believed that King was "doing the best work for Negroes." X received 6 percent (The Autobiography, 417).Go
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20. "MX" is Malcolm X.Go
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21. Malcolm X traveled to Cairo several times in 1964 where he attended two African Summit conferences.Go
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22. Haley kept in touch with X during his visit to Mecca, often sending clippings he thought would be of interest.Go
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23. "SEP" is the Saturday Evening Post.Go
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24. The Saturday Evening Post published a cover story on Malcolm X on September 12, 1964. Haley was interviewed by the magazine, and the SEP "flew photographer John Launois to Cairo to locate Malcolm X and photograph him in color" (The Autobiography, 418). When X received a copy of the article from Haley he was furious. The editorial negatively compared X to King: "If Malcolm X were not a Negro, his autobiography would be little more than a journal of abnormal psychology, the story of a burglar, dope pusher, addict and jailbird--with a family history of insanity--who acquires messianic delusions and sets forth to preach an upside-down religion of 'brotherly' hatred." ("The Lesson of Malcolm X," Saturday Evening Post, September 12, 1964, 84). Haley reports that X continued to be upset about the editorial, railing against it months later (The Autobiography, 422).Go
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25. Malcolm X told Haley that he would not reveal the OAAU's (Organization of Afro-American Unity) membership size (The Autobiography, 420-21).Go
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26. This note references the picture of Malcolm X with an M1 carbine that was published in Ebony magazine. Haley reveals that X says, "I taught my wife to use it, and instructed her to fire on anyone, white, black, or yellow, who tries to force his way inside" the house (The Autobiography, 422).Go
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27. Malcolm X was suspicious of the book contract for foreign publication rights after the Saturday Evening Post editorial, noting that his lawyer needed to see the contract before he signed it (The Autobiography, 422-23). Go
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28. Haley bought dolls as Christmas gifts for X's children, Attallah and Qubilah. X noted that "this isn't something I'm proud to say, but I don't think I've ever bought one gift for my children,...That's not good, I know it" (The Autobiography, 423).
29. Sister Betty is Malcolm X's wife, Betty Shabazz. Go
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30. Haley flew to Kennedy Airport in early January 1965 to meet X, the last meeting they would have prior to X's assassination (The Autobiography, 423-44).Go
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31. Malcolm X (here "MX") believed that a hustler was "the most dangerous black man in America" (The Autobiography, 311).Go
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32. Alex Haley was fascinated with graphoanalysis and had a postcard written by Malcolm X analyzed. He hoped to conduct further handwriting analysis on Malcolm X.Go
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33. Malcolm X often attacked black leaders that he disagreed with (see The Autobiography, 309-310.Go
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34. Boxer Cassius Clay, or Muhammad Ali (1942- ), was a close friend of X's until X separated from Elijah Muhammad.Go
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35. Malcolm X was convinced that he would be assassinated, and Haley includes multiple references to X's belief in his inevitable death (see, for example, The Autobiography, 381-82). Go
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36. Alex Haley was fascinated with graphoanalysis and had a postcard written by Malcolm X analyzed. He hoped to conduct further handwriting analysis on Malcolm X.Go
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37. "MX" is Malcolm X.Go
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38. Malcolm X returned from his trip to Africa and the Middle East with a beard (see The Autobiography, 337).Go
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39. Malcolm X discusses his relationship with Laura in The Autobiography. He states, after his visit to Mecca, that he regrets his treatment of her (414).Go
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40. Attorney General.Go
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41. The OAAU is the Organization of Afro-American Unity. After his trip to Mecca in 1964, Malcolm X founded the OAAU as an international Africanist organization.Go
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