American Icons: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Originally aired: September 24, 2010
Friday, August 26, 2011
This is an American revolution set down on the page.
When Malcolm X was assassinated at 39, his book nearly died with him. Today The Autobiography of Malcolm X — a favorite of President Obama and Justice Clarence Thomas alike — stands as a milestone in America’s struggle with race. The Autobiography is also a Horatio Alger tale, following a man’s journey from poverty to crime to militancy to wisdom. Muslims look to Malcolm as a figure of tolerance; a tea party activist claims him for the Right; Public Enemy’s Chuck D tells us, “This book is like food. It ain’t McDonalds — it’s sit down at the table and say grace.”
Bonus Track: Painting an Icon
Artist Charles Lilly's painting of Malcolm X adorns the cover of the Ballantine Books edition of The Autobiography. In this bonus cut, he explains his famous work.
Bonus Track: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar remembers Malcolm X
NBA Hall of Fame member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about hearing Malcolm X speak as a teenager in Harlem and the profound impact The Autobiography had on him in college.
Video: Studio 360 tours Alex Haley's writing studio