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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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Chapters 10 & 11

Summary (continued)

In the prison, Malcolm continued reading and studying books. He also began attending the debates and lectures organized in the prison. The debating society trained Malcolm in public speaking. Recalling this phase, Malcolm says that he was schooled in the streets of Harlem, but the prison was his university.

In the last year of his imprisonment, he was shifted to Charleston Prison. The reasons given for it ostensibly was that he had refused to take some shots or inoculation. The real reason was that, when he wasn't reading, Malcolm spent his time speaking to other convicts about the teachings of the Nation.

The Charleston Prison was far more strict. They did not have any lectures or debates where the inmates could meet or interact. In an attempt to contact the other prisoners he began going to the Bible class, attended by lots of black convicts. At the prison colony in Massachusetts he had read the Bible. A tall, white, blonde young student from the Harvard Seminary conducted the Bible class at the Charleston prison. For Malcolm then the student was nothing but a perfect 'devil'. Malcolm had to think really hard to upset the student because, the young student was well versed in his subject. Also, Malcolm had to think of something that would give the black convicts something to think and talk about.


Malcolm got an opportunity one day when the student had finished speaking about St. Paul. Malcolm put his hand up. When the student motioned him to speak, he stood up and asked: 'what color was Paul? Answering his own question, Malcolm states that Paul must have been black because he was a Hebrew. And the original Hebrews were black. This, the student could not contradict. He flushed red and agreed with Malcolm. Malcolm once again asked: 'what color was Jesus… He was Hebrew too… wasn't he?" he asked slowly. This question stunned not only the white student from Harvard, but also every one to the convict present in the class. The student walked around the class for a moment and replied that Jesus was brown. Malcolm left the discussion at that point for he was satisfied with the impact he had made.

Overnight the news of the Bible class spread through the entire prison. Wherever Malcolm went he could see the nodding and whispering. Malcolm made full use of the opportunity. Whenever he met a black inmate he began speaking about Elijah Muhammad and his teachings.

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