The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

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Chapter 16 Summary: Out

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Last Updated May 18, 2023.

Due to Malcolm's persistence and devotion to the Nation of Islam, over 100 mosques were established across the United States by 1961. While his dedication to the cause remains steadfast, he believes the Nation of Islam could play an even bigger role in the overall struggle of African Americans if they took more action.

At the same time, Malcolm becomes aware of negative comments about him within the Nation of Islam, such as him enjoying being a "nationwide Mr. Big Shot." Recalling Elijah Muhammad's warning about envy and jealousy towards public figures, Malcolm isn't bothered by these remarks. However, he soon notices decreased coverage in the Nation of Islam's newspaper, Muhammad Speaks. Malcolm doesn't let this affect him, viewing resentment as a sign of weakness. But by 1963, the reactions of fellow Muslims distress him so much that he starts declining interview requests from journalists to avoid the spotlight.

Around this time, rumors emerge about Elijah Muhammad's alleged extramarital affairs. In 1963, the American media reports on these claims, leaving Malcolm appalled. Such behavior goes against the Nation of Islam's strict moral code; Malcolm's brother Reginald was even expelled from the Nation for similar misconduct.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Malcolm sees this as evidence that the hatred in white men has not stopped with the killing of defenseless people but has now reached the country's highest office. When asked his opinion on the tragedy, Malcolm says it's a case of "the chickens coming home to roost," which, when taken out of context, appears disrespectful and brash.

To distance Muslims from Malcolm's statement, Elijah Muhammad imposes a 90-day silence on him. Malcolm is deeply troubled and, considering recent reactions from Muslims, skeptical of Muhammad's condemnation. After a visit to his family doctor, Malcolm and his family, along with their friend Cassius Clay, take their first vacation to Miami since Malcolm and Betty's marriage. In Miami they attend a championship boxing match between Clay, a Muslim, and Sonny Liston, a Christian. Clay wins.

Back in New York, Malcolm announces his intention to create an organization aimed at helping African American men gain their human rights and address their mental, spiritual, economic, and political issues. This organization, called Muslim Mosque, Inc., would include all faiths of black men and put into practice what the Nation of Islam had only preached. People are excited about Malcolm's new mosque.

To prepare for this huge responsibility, Malcolm decides to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of the Arab prophet Muhammad, who founded Islam in the seventh century.

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