Scholarly Editing

The Annual of the Association for Documentary Editing

2014, Volume 35

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

by Alex HaleyEdited by Amy E. Earhart et al.
Note: Below are transcriptions and images of typed 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 #30]

The most instantly angry I ever saw Malcolm X. was one day we were in his car driving in Harlem, and at 136th Street between Lenox and 7th Avenues he saw a group of young [illeg.] teen-age Negroes shooting fice dice against the doors of the Countee Cullen branch library which houses the great Schomberg Collection of Negro literature about and by Negroes. [1] Braking the car to a screeching stop, Malcolm X. bounded out and was over the dice-shooters like an avenging devil. They instantly recognized him, and nearly flattened against the wall at his fury. [illeg.] "You out here schooting craps [2] against this library, and inside it's full of white boys and girls in there studying about you!" The youth slunk away as Malcolm returned to the car furiously. He said, "I know how Christ felt when like he wished he had a whip when he saw the money-changers in the temple." [3]

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[Note #45]

Growing respect for whites -- who deaalt with him as a man . . . 160/161[4]

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[Note #46]

Walking the Harlem streets -- "making my little rounds." 161[5]

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[Note #47]

"niggers ruined it -- 164 [6]

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[Note #48]

"The BM[7] accepted took second-class so long WH[8] came to accept it as air he breathes."

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[Note #49]

The report from Ag.[9]

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[Note #50]

Adam Clayton Powell[10]. Knew what it was to get on the streets and organize from the streets. His finest moments ini his role as a Negro leaders, not in the pulpit preaching, but in the streets, organizing, agitating. He knew that to change anything, had to have man in streets to help you, and you had to physically be with him, to have his help.

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[Note #51]

“Respectable Negro” MX[11] jeered at. "He scathed us -- until he looked up and saw we had something." Hi "His social sciences studies hadn't told him . . ."

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[Note #52]

The aar aardvark [12]-- p. 166 (Lead into Ag's[13] graphic analysis [14]

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[Note #53]

Dolls[15] - Helen Lanier[16] PERSONAL ANECDOTES. In the International Motel, George Sims[17] said to Malcolm that he hoped that whatever di decision he had would be good for his wife and children. Malcolm X. looked at George, siad and he said, very sincerely, "You are right, sir. I appreciate your saying that."

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[Note #54]

Martin Luther King...admired his coolness under fire...if instead he of non-violent, he could have had the attitude of the labor leaders, what changes he could have wrought. Now they sit down at bargain as equals. Back in the 30s, before Roosevelt, looked upon as scum, radicals, anarchists. Now they are respectable. Labor Building today in Washington overlooks the White House.[18]

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[Note #55]

SMALL TALK. Most of it reminisence for the book. re hustlers ex-cons

About Redd Foxx[19]

About Billie Holiday[20]

About waiting in Smalls[21]

Hustling...making tips...perceive big spenders...

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[Note #56]

Malcolm was alleged to have money. The saddest I ever sayw him was re material things for his family. His life had been a dedication.[22]

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[Note #57]

Something about a man who comes out of prison, gets something going for himself.

Recidivism.[23]

"I can talk to the man lowest down, because I've been poast the man lowest down."

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[Note #58]

Man told him not to be a lawyer, but a carpenter. "I often think about this, maybe the most crucial point in my life." I probably would have been a lawyer. Because when I went to Boston, if I had told M my Sister Ella I wanted to go to Harvard Law School, she would have been struggling yet to get me in there, and through there.[24]

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[Note #59]

NAACP.[25] Basic thing wrong, it always had at top [illeg.] white people, who could dilute any strong show of militance, or of power. They could always draw the purse strings.

Negro has been only group in this country who has allowed other people to have been at the head of his organization.

The greatest and most militant organization that his country ever had was Marcus Garvey's,[26] who would have nothing white in his organization.

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[Note #60]

Scene where white boy and girl, college two, asaid they were convinced he was right in much he said, they wanted to help, what could they do?

He told them to go among own kind, convert them.

He told them he was suspicious of the white people who always wanted to be around Negroes. [27]

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[Note #61]

Tip against burglars. Keep a light burning. Ideally in the toilet. Nobody can never say when you might be in there, and the burglar knows that in there you would be especially quiet and not know hear any noise[28]

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[Note #62]

Malcolm's third great disillusion Re Cassius Clay 164 [29]

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[Note #63]

Death threats -- He would quickly check thed the door, then sit back down. 164 (dcescr)(see below it; re covert calls)[30]

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[Note #65]

Malcolm X. was forever curious. He wanted to learn.

He said, "If I ever take a vacation, I want to go to Museums, learn, look at the ancient art, artifacts.

The Egypian collection at the Museum of Natural History. He conducted children through museums.[31]

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[Note #66]

Malcolm's great firstsecond great disillusion Re statement about President Kennedy 164[32]

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[Note #67]

Malcolm was alleged to still use dope. I was with him for period of up to 12 hours, many times; I never saw the slightest sign.

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[Note #68]

I never heard him tell an off-colore story . . . or say, even, some double-entendre thing.

The prime rib roast bone. "I thought you were in here fasting, buddy."

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[Note #69]

He was in Mecca. Describing how he bent to pray. He took off his shoe, and showed me his toe, where h it had swelled.[33]

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[Note #70]

"If we Negroes had been as successful in building [illeg.] factories as in building churches, what a difference it would [illeg.] today." [34]

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[Note #71]

Great area of misunderstanding re Kennedy statement. "Tactically wrong to say . . .[35].

"You know, to show you, when media after you, they take you out of context.

"Victor Lasky had a whoL whole book[36] that was later said to be almost whooly wholly innuendoes and outright lies -- they made his book into a best-seller.

" "The machinery of the white man is rigged against us."

"Dr. King" -- see that "Communist-led" and "Communist-inspired."[37]

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[Note #72]

The train to Philadelphia...160[38]

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[Note #128]

The word "nigger" Malcolm used as a curse word, and that I remember he in two years he used it twice, then another time in another way

The exception way was once in an airport we witnessed a touching little family reunion scene in which some little [illeg.] children romped around playing and exclaiming in another sl language. "By tomorrow night, they'll know how to say their first English word -- nigger," observed Malcolm X. [39]

Now we talked about philosphies more - the books material was in hand. The other oaccasions (the [illeg.] Ph.D)

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[Note #129]

He was approached by a Negro man about 30, who identified himself as an ex-con, and said he wished Malcolm X's help in getting a job. "Brother," said Malcolm X., "do you really want to go straight?" The man assured that he did and Malcolm X. said, "What work can you do?" The man showed his hands. He said, "Anything I can do with these. I have no education. I just want to work where you're in charge."

Malcolm X. told the man to be at — at —, a week hence. He was going to be out of town.

When the man left, Malcolm X. said. "If he's there, if he's there on time, I'll get him a job. You can't hire a better man than an ex-con if he really wants to discipline himself. That's the first thing for rehabilitating anybody is giving them discipline. Without it, forget rehabilitation."

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[Note #130]

Malcolm -- anger: sheet 159

Another time that he was angry was about an editorial in the Saturday Evening Post. [40]166

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[Note #131]

"I would give anything to start a publishing company."

His frustrations -- he couldn't help provide coherent leadership to the real frustrations of the black masses. [41]

Sense of identity -- white culture does not include black.

Beauty always epitomized by white beauty standards.

"The psychic and psychological rigging against the black child. Bombarded by the billboards." [42]

When you can ground a people in their history, they know who they are.

Even in universities, they haven't taught about the black man. Just now the book publishers are beginning Negro history.[43]

However persecuted, if you know you havea a history. It helped the Jew out of every ghetto. No one can tell Jew he's "inferior" [44]

Emerging blacks of Africa, first thing get whites off soil; next thing, get black history known.

Civil War. Now we find almost a million black hands

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Notes

1. The Countee Cullen Library is a branch of the New York Public Library. Named after Harlem Renaissance author Countee Cullen, the library houses African American collections including the Schomburg Collection. Go
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2. The dice shooters are playing craps, a dice game where you bet on the roll of the dice. Haley includes this anecdote in both The Autobiography and "The Malcolm X I Knew."Go
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3. A biblical reference to Jesus braiding a whip to drive the money changers out of the temple. From John 2:15. Go
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4. Haley writes in The Autobiography: "Malcolm X's growing respect for individual whites seemed to be reserved for those who ignored on a personal basis the things he said about whites and who jousted with him as a man" (440).Go
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5. 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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6. As X became further estranged from the Nation of Islam, Haley reports that X stated: "We had the best organization the black man's ever had---niggers ruined it!" (411).Go
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7. "BM" is X's abbreviation for black man.Go
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8. This is probably a typo and should read "WM" for white man.Go
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9. Attorney General.Go
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10. Adam Clayton Powell (1908-1972) was an African American politican and preacher who represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. Go
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11. "MX" is shorthand for Malcolm X.Go
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12. X notes that he read the dictionary while in prison and points to aardvark as a word he remembers (The Autobiography, 172). Go
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13. Attorney General.Go
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14. Haley was interested in graphic analysis, and sent X's handwriting for analysis.Go
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15. Haley bought X's daughters dolls for Christmas. X noted, "this isn't something I'm proud to say, but I don't think I've ever bought one gift for my children. Everything they play with, either Betty got it for them, or somebody gave it to them, never me. That's not good, I know it. I've always been too busy'" (The Autobiography, 423). Go
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16. Helen Lanier was a waitress at Harlem's Twenty Two Club. On the birth of X's fourth child, Lanier gave the baby a layette. X was touched, noting "Why, I hardly know that girl!" (The Autobiography, 417). Go
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17. Sims was Alex Haley's boyhood friend and worked with Haley as a researcher.Go
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18. Haley includes this anecdote in "The Malcolm X I Knew." Haley believed that X "had a reluctant admiration for Dr. King" (339). However, Manning Marable presents considerable evidence of X's disagreement with King. Marable also chronicles X's increasing connection to labor, socialist, and Marxist groups prior to his assassination. See Marable, Malcolm X, 305-7, for additional information. Go
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19. Redd Foxx (1922-1991) was an American comedian whom X knew from his time in Harlem. He refers to "Chicago Red" as the "funniest dishwasher on this earth" (96). Go
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20. X knew the jazz singer Billie Holiday (1915-1959) when he was living in Harlem. See The Autobiography (110).Go
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21. Smalls is a jazz club that Malcolm X references in the The Autobiography.Go
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22. Haley emphasizes that X had not accrued a financial nest egg while working with the Nation of Islam, highlighting that X had to borrow money from his sister Ella to go abroad (The Autobiography, 430). Malcolm X stated "I finally convinced Betty that if anything ever happened to me, the Nation of Islam would take care of her for the rest of her life, and of our children until they were grown. I could never have been a bigger fool!" (291).Go
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23. X tells Haley that prison changes a person (The Autobiography, 392).Go
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24. When asked what he wants to be, X tells his teacher, Mr. Ostrowski, that he wants to be a lawyer. His teacher replies, "A lawyer--that's no realistic goal for a nigger," instead suggesting carpentry (The Autobiography, 36). X says this incident changed him. In "The Malcolm X I Knew," X notes that Ella would have taken in washing to send him to law school.Go
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25. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), an interracial group promoting civil rights.Go
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26. Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) formed the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which emphasized Pan-Africanism and a black economic system.Go
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27. X notes that he never really trusted whites that were "always so anxious to hang around Negroes, or to hang around in Negro communities" (376).Go
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28. X gives this tip when he talking about his experience as a burglar. Haley includes this anecdote in both The Autobiography (144) and "The Malcolm X I Knew."Go
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29. Malcolm X had a close relationship to Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). When X split with the Nation of Islam Clay cut off ties with him. See "The Malcolm X I Knew" for Malcolm X's response to the split.Go
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30. After his split with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X received a number of death threats and his home was firebombed. He told Haley, "I'm a marked man" (The Autobiography, 410).Go
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31. Haley includes this anecdote in "The Malcolm X I Knew." Haley emphasizes that Malcolm X was intellectually curious and regretted that he did not receive "the kind of academic education I wish I had been able to get-to have been a lawyer, perhaps" (379).Go
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32. Malcolm X stated that John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination was "chickens coming home to roost." His disappointment lies in his censure by Mr. Muhammad for the statement.Go
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33. Haley notes that X reported that his toe swelled from the prayer position during his visit to Mecca. (The Autobiography, 343)Go
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34. Malcolm X argues that religion has dulled the quest for economic independence. See the "Icarus" chapter for additional discussion of black economic independence.Go
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35. Elijah Muhammad silenced Malcolm X for his "chickens coming home to roost" statement after Kennedy's assassination.Go
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36. Lasky wrote the 1963 book JFK: The Man and the Myth, a negative take on Kennedy. Go
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37. Concerns about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X's possible ties to communism were rampant at this period. Go
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38. Haley took the train to Philadelphia with X (The Autobiography, 397).Go
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39. Haley recounts the story of "how Malcolm X never lost his racial perspective," noting that X stated that a group of children newly arrived to the United States would soon use their "first English world--nigger" (The Autobiography, 399). Go
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40. 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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41. Malcolm X noted that "I do believe that I have fought the best that I knew how, and the best that I could, with the shortcomings that I have had. I know that my shortcomings are many" (379).Go
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42. Malcolm X rejects conformance to white standards of beauty, particularly emphasizing the importance of natural hair (see The Autobiography, 258-59). Go
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43. The exclusion and incompleteness of African Americans from U.S. history is of great concern to Malcolm X. See the chapter "Saved" in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.Go
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44. X makes this statement in a December 1962 speech. See http://www.malcolm-x.org/speeches/spc_12__62.htm. Go
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