Norfolk Prison Colony


“…I can remember accurately the very first set of books that really impressed me. I have since bought that set of books and have it home for my children to read as they grow up. It’s called Wonders of the World. It’s full of pictures of archaeological finds, statues that depict, usually, non-European people.

I found books like Will Durant’s Story of Civilization. I read H.G. Wells’ Outline of History. Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois gave me a glimpse into the black people’s history before they came to this country. Carter G. Woodson’s Negro History opened my eyes about empires before the black slave was brought to the United States, and the early Negro struggles for freedom. J.A. Rogers’ three volumes of Sex and Race told about race-mixing before Christ’s time; about Aesop being a black man who told fables; about Egypt’s Pharaohs; about the great Coptic Christian Empires; about Ethiopia, the earth’s oldest continuous black civilization, as China is the oldest continuous civilization.

Mr. Muhammad’s teaching about how the white man had been created led me to Findings In Genetics by Gregor Mendel. (The dictionary’s ‘G’ section was where I had learned what “genetics” meant.) I really studied this book by the Austrian monk. Reading it over and over, especially certain sections, helped me to understand that if you started with a black man, a white man could be produced; but starting with a white man, you never could produce a black man ~ because the white chromosome is recessive. And since no one disputes that there was but one Original Man, the conclusion is clear…

…Books like the one by Frederick Olmstead opened my eyes to the horrors suffered when the slave was landed in the United States. The European woman, Fannie Kimball, who had married a Southern white slave owner, described how human beings were degraded. Of course I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In fact, I believe that’s the only novel I have ever read since I started serious reading…

…I read Herodotus, “the father of History”, or rather, I read about him. And I read the histories of various nations, which opened my eyes gradually, then wider and wider, to how the whole world’s white men had indeed acted like devils, pillaging and raping and bleeding and draining the whole world’s non-white people. I remember, for instance, books such as Will Durant’s story of the struggle to drive the British out of India…

…When I discovered philosophy, I tried to touch all the landmarks of philosophical development. Gradually, I read most of the old philosophers, Occidental and Oriental. The Oriental philosophers were the ones I came to prefer; finally, my impression was that most Occidental philosophy had largely been borrowed from the Oriental thinkers. Socrates, for instance, travelled in Egypt. Some sources even say that Socrates was initiated into some of the Egyptian mysteries. Obviously Socrates got some of his wisdom among the East’s wise men…

…Schopenhauer, Kant, Nietzsche, naturally, I read all of those. I don’t respect them; I am just trying to remember some of those whose theories I soaked up in those years. These three, it’s said, laid the groundwork on which the Fascist and Nazi philosophy was built. I don’t respect them because it seems to me that most of their time was spent arguing about things that are not really important. They remind me of so many of the Negro “intellectuals”, so-called, with whom I have come in contact ~ they are always arguing about something useless.

Spinoza impressed me for a while when I found out that he was black. A black Spanish Jew. The Jews excommunicated him because he advocated a pantheistic doctrine, something like the “allness of God”, or “God in everything”. The Jews read their burial services for Spinoza, meaning that he was dead as far as they were concerned; his family was run out of Spain, they ended up in Holland, I think.

I’ll tell you something. The whole stream of Western philosophy has now wound up in a cul-de-sac. The white man has perpetrated upon himself, as well as upon the black man, so gigantic a fraud that he has put himself into a crack. He did it through his elaborate, neurotic necessity to hide the black man’s true role in history…”

~ The Autobiography of Malcolm X
I was thumbing through the dictionary for some definition when it suddenly struck me:
If, as Malcolm X claims on pages 266-7 of his Autobiography, he hand-copied out the contents of an entire dictionary (as part of his effort to improve his penmanship whilst serving a 1946-52 prison sentence for burglary) this would mean that he not only wrote down every single known word (and its meaning) in the English language but every single thing that exists in the World and for which there is an English dictionary definition. He thus encountered almost everything that is humanly knowable and proceeded to systematize that data in a form that would later serve as the basis of his post-prison sermons in the service of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. And to think that this only marked the beginning of his prison studies…
In transcribing, by hand, the contents of an entire dictionary Malcolm X is responsible for performing one of the most stupefying scholastic feats in human history. 

#BecomeMalcolmX: Let this be OUR ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’. Strike a #MalcolmX pose to mark the 50th anniversary of the #MalcolmX Assassination – then NOMINATE your Facebook friends to take the #MalcolmXChallenge. And please don’t forget to SIGN and SHARE the #MalcolmX Petition at Change.Org.



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