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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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Chapters 12 & 13

Summary

Chapter 12 tells the reader about Malcolm's first contact with the Black Muslims outside the prison.

In spring 1952, Malcolm informs Mr. Elijah Muhammad with great joy that he will soon be released. After his release, he decides to go to Detroit to be with his brother Wilfrid, since his sister Hilda wanted him to learn more about the Nation of Islam. According to Hilda, Malcolm could do this only by becoming a member of a temple of practicing Muslims.

A few months after Malcolm writes to Elijah Muhammad, he is released on parole. Upon leaving the prison, the first purchase he makes is a pair of glasses, a suitcase, and a wristwatch. Malcolm stays with Wilfrid and his family in Detroit and gets a job in a furniture store. His brother managed the furniture store. Malcolm was really impressed by the way Islam had influenced and changed the members in Wilfrid's family. Besides the members, who attended the meetings in the Temple, also greeted each other with a great deal of respect, and expressed a feeling of brotherhood towards each other.

However, Malcolm grew rather impatient with the functioning of the Temple. For he felt that nothing was being done to make new converts. The attitude among the members, it seemed to him, was that new converts will come on their own. But Malcolm thought differently. He sincerely felt that a little more effort by way of meeting people, talking and inviting them to the temple was required, if the organization was to grow.

Soon Malcolm got the opportunity to meet the spiritual leader Elijah Muhammad. At this meeting, Malcolm spoke frankly about his feelings, vis--vis the growth of the Temple. Elijah Muhammad listened to what he had to say and accepted his suggestions. He asked Malcolm to go ahead with his ideas of recruiting new members. As Malcolm's involvement in the rebuilding of the Temple became total, he met Elijah Muhammad more often to tell him about the latest developments. After a while, under the leader's instructions, Malcolm (along with his brothers), dropped his surname Little and took on the letter 'X' at the end of his name. 'X' denoted something unknown. In other words, since he was still unaware of his original African name, he like several others members added the letter 'X' at the end of his name. Pleased by his zeal and commitment, the spiritual leader appointed Malcolm the minister of Detroit Temple.


The chapter ends with a brief account of Elijah Muhammad's past. Mr. Muhammad was a humble worker when he met W.D. Fard, a trader. Fard called himself the messenger of Allah to awaken all the blacks in North America. Influenced by W.D. Fard, Elijah Muhammad joined him in founding the Nation of Islam. After giving the responsibility of the organization to Elijah Muhammad, W.D. Fard disappears. As Malcolm narrates the history, he refers to the spiritual head with an utmost respect and deep affection. Malcolm looked up to him and had more faith in Elijah than Elijah had in himself.

In the following chapter, Malcolm recalls that he quit his job at the Ford Motor Company to devote all his time in studying under Elijah Muhammad. He was studying to become a Black Muslim minister. This is in 1953. When Malcolm's studies are complete, he is sent to Boston, where he opens a temple within three months. Every evening he addressed the members. During the day, along with a few of his Muslim brothers, he roamed the streets to contact black youth and tell them about the Nation.

Malcolm's sister Ella, often visited the Mosque /Temple at Boston to hear him speak. However, when as usual at the end of the speech, Malcolm asked the members in the audience to stand up if they wished to join the Nation of Islam, Ella would never stand up.

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